Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mediterranean Cruise (Part I) - Barcelona

Trips would be more enjoyable if they didn't require airline travel. We started our Mediterranean trip Monday with a flight that was scheduled to leave Denver at 12:30 PM. We were suppose to have an hour and 15 minute layover in Chicago before catching our connecting flight to Rome. When we checked in, we were informed that our flight would be delayed by 20 minutes. After arriving at the concourse gate from which our plane was to leave, the delay had been revised to 25 minutes. They stopped revising the scheduled departure time after that; it ended up being a 45 minute delay. By the time we arrived at the gate, midway down concourse G at O'Hare's Terminal 3, we had 15 minutes to catch our plane to Rome, gated at the distal end of concourse K. We did it in 8 minutes, looking like O.J. Simpson in that old Avis commercial. There was some delay in the departure for Rome, and, miraculously, our baggage also made the connection.
Airlines also discriminate against tall people. They seem to think people, these days, are getting shorter. I have a difficult time getting into a comfortable position and usually try to get an aisle seat, just so I can occasionally stretch out my legs. I'm also rarely able to sleep on an airline. The flight from Chicago to Rome was an overnight flight that was about 9.5 hours long and I slept very little. Fortunately, I had an aisle seat and was able to get up several times to stretch my legs. We had about a 5 hour layover in Rome before catching our connecting flight to Barcelona. However, they didn't know from which gate the plane would depart when we checked it. The boarding passes we received stated the plane would be leaving from gate "D??". The plane was to start boarding at 13:40 and we kept checking the electronic status board waiting for the gate to be announced. At 13:50 the board was updated and the gate identified. The aircraft we boarded was made by Airbus and I had been assigned a middle seat, so that I could sit next to Peggy who wanted a window seat. This was the tightest fit I can ever remember having; I even had trouble just sitting down. My right knee intruded into Peggy's space and my left knee extended in the lady's space, next to me in the aisle seat. Fortunately, the plane was only about half full, so as soon as I could I moved across the aisle where no one was sitting. I probably slept more on the 2 hour flight to Barcelona than I did on the previous flight to Rome.
But, we arrived and are now in Barcelona at a nice hotel near the center of town. Whereas I am not a Spanish speaker, Peggy is quite fluent. I enjoy listening to her converse with the local people and she translates for me. During the taxi ride from the airport, our driver told Peggy about an area near our hotel with good places to eat. After checking into our hotel and resting for about an hour we went looking for a place in the area that our taxi driver had recommended. There were a lot of people out and I always enjoy just watching people when I travel to other countries. Like their food, people in different countries seem to have a distinct flavor. The people here in Barcelona have been very friendly and helpful and don't seem at all put off by my not knowing their language. Although I don't understand Spanish, smiles and laughter in any language don't require translation.
Two days before we left Denver, Peggy hurt her back and it looked like we might have to cancel the trip. After a night of pain and not being able to sleep, I took her to the emergency room. They took X-rays and the Doctor decided that she had sprained ligaments between bones in her pelvis. He prescribed pain pills and thought the pain would subside after a few days. Peggy decided she could handle it and I was surprised at how well she has done; especially after having to sit for 9.5 hours on the Rome flight. Before the trip, she bought a small pillow to support her back while sitting and that seems to have helped. It still hurts her but it hasn't slowed her down (she beat me on that mad dash down the concourses at O'Hare).
Tomorrow we only have half a day in Barcelona before we board our cruise ship. Not yet sure what we will do, but I noticed a Geology Museum just a few blocks from our hotel.

Love all the balconies.

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