After a short night, we find ourselves in Madrid. We stop at the Spanair lounge looking for breakfast but only find chips and olives, plus all manner of alcohol. Breakfast of champions!
The Madrid airport is one long long long building and it takes us about 40 minutes to walk from international arrivals to domestic departures for our flight to Barcelona. When we get to the gate, it seems that nobody’s there. We find a seat by the window and talk about what we do when we get to Barcelona. After, I swear, about 5 minutes, we look over our shoulder to see half the people in the airport lined up to board the flight. There were no announcements made at all! Yikes. We are now at the back of a very very long line. Turns out that in Spain, there are no boarding zone numbers or division of boarding. Everybody on the flight just lines up in an orderly fashion and files in.
Well, with our carry-ons (which were way bigger than anybody else’s) we could not risk getting on last and having the overhead full. So, I decided to see if our frequent flyer status would do anything for us. Leaving George and Morgan, I went to the front of the line and flashed my ticket, which had Star Alliance Gold on it. It seemed to mean something. “Stand here,” they said. I waved to George and Morgan to come forward. At first, people were like, “hey, get to the back of the line!” But when we said the magic word, “Preferred,” the sea parted like we were Moses and company. Oh, the power!
We were the first through the line with our carry-ons, which one of the agents tried to take from us. The other one waved her away and, in the process of boarding, switched our seats from row 15 to row 3. Wooohooo, we’re in business class and might get something to eat that’s not chips and olives!
However, the great food was not to be. Although we were in the business class section, we were ignored by the flight attendants who were serving drinks, croissants, and hot chocolate and churros (hot chocolate so thick that it coats the churro when you dip it, yum). I guess because of our last minute seat switch, there were no churros for us. Bummer. Every time when we tried to catch the eye of the flight attendant, he would look away, pretending not to speak English. Hm.
All was better when we arrived at the Barcelona airport. Still nice and shiny from the rebuild for the 1998 Olympics, it was easy to maneuver. We found the cash machine and the bus that took us to our first destination, Sitges.
Usually, when I cruise, I like to arrive in or near the port a couple of days prior to boarding the ship. If you have the cruise ship book your airfare (and pay lots more for the privilege), you don’t have to worry because it is their responsibility to get you from your home airport to the ship, no matter what. If there’s a problem, they handle it one way or another, without a cost to you. We book our airfare independently from the cruise line and forfeit that guarantee. Since you never know what kind of delay can happen enroute, I plan one or two “chill” days somewhere near the embarkation port as a buffer.
This trip, our “chill” days are in Sitges, a beach town south of Barcelona.
Our room’s not ready yet so we go across the street to have a bite to eat. Morgan’s still not 100%, so when lunch is finished, we check in and George and I leave him in the room and go for the walk that needs to keep us awake until at least 8am.
I’ll tell you more about Sitges in the next post.
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