Monday, September 17, 2007

Day Seven: Onward Ho! Barcelona here we come.

Fountain Play


  • Catch airplane to Barcelona
  • Will we get our promised date night tonight?
  • Beach or City?

We may have awoke in the Disney hotel, but our thoughts were straining from wandering into the visions of wonder we experienced as in our dreams the day before. We had other sights ahead of us; ones which the travel books could hardly prepare us for. It was hard to pull ourselves out of the Disney world, but on the road we must and our Fearless Leader and Mr. Navigator lead us as fast as the Tour Bus could take us to the airport where we'd get a quick ride on a nobler steed to the Catalonian city of Barcelona. If only we could just find our way there. We've gotten lost in Paris before and this time was no different. Though they pulled us out of it, we were still running later than we had hoped. I was regretting making that last stop in the gift shop of the hotel for a few final reminders of our Disney experience. In the end it all came down to mere minutes.

Fearless Leader dropped us and the luggage off at the front doors while he went to park the Tour Bus and we wandered through the terminal looking for our check-in desk. Our eyes not having adjusted to our new surroundings, we simply asked for help at the nearest desk and followed her instructions to an out-of-the-way counter with a line of shady looking individuals who kept trying to cut in front of us. Something didn't seem right, but in our desperation to board our flight we stuck it out only to find that the line we'd stood in was for people to purchase last minute flights. So we made a mad dash to the correct line just to stand for an eternal wait. Have you any idea what it's like trying to keep excited children in reachable distance while there are mountains of luggage and dozens of legs to crawl around? Patience was running a bit thin, but its amazing how patience can run on vapors when it has to. Fearless Leader caught up to us all out of breath and gave us a few moments of conversation. He explained that he could not find a parking spot for the Tour Bus so he parked it illegally and would have to go back and try a different approach after he'd checked the bags. He seemed to be our lucky charm and the line started to move miraculously. Once we were at the front we checked his bags separately and as fast as the woman could handle them and off he ran again promising to meet up with us at the gate. As we walked the maze of terminals I wished I'd picked a few moonstones to drop on the ground to help speed up his search for the gate. We found the right terminal and made our way through security without any issues but once we entered the terminal there was no direction to our plane. We stood in a group of dazed foreigners all looking around aimlessly and hoping one or another would take the lead and direct us to the gate. A few strayed from the group in opposite directions hoping to catch a hidden sign with no luck. Finally a man who saw us desperate looking women with children and took it upon himself to grab us by the arm towards what the whole group hoped would be our plane. I am still not sure if it was luck or if he really did have an idea of inspiration, whatever the case we found our gate just as they were lining up and boarding. It was not assigned seating so we had been planning on getting there early to get first dibs on seating together. Instead we sat down and waited for Fearless Leader . . . until we were the last ones in the terminal. Thinking of a plan we sent Mr. Navigator running back to the security check point to help our Fearless Leader find the correct gate while the women and children clambered aboard the last flight of the day to Barcelona.

I cannot say whose error it was, but they had no record of Screech Monkey and no ticket for her. She was a lap baby, but they still needed confirmation she would be on the plane. If anything I was grateful that it was buying our men a little time, but if they didn't let the baby on what good would it have been anyway? They started checking the rosters and found 4 Jackson's on it and, our Man being nowhere in sight, we were allowed to board under the assumption that the baby was the 4th out of our families 5. I worried if this would be a problem later, but figured things really couldn't get much worse, right? We found seats for all us girls in one section of seating and waited to see the men walk into the plane. We waited until the stewards began making the calls and preparing to shut the door and I boldly approached to tell them we still had two men out there. They checked their watches and said we still had 5 minutes before they were supposed to take off so they'd wait that long. The whole plane sat and waited what seemed forever and finally a bold little stewardess came over and asked us if our final destination was Barcelona. When we replied yes she giggled, glanced at the rest of the passengers and asked, "Well, wouldn't you prefer to leave the men behind then?" My reply was as honest as I could make it, "Sure, if you could leave the kids behind as well."

Finally Mr. Navigator came bursting through the hatch breathing heavy and began exaggerated conversation with the stewards at the front. When he came walking back to us he explained that he waited at security as long as he felt he could and had to come back to the plane to keep it from taking off with them. They told him they'd wait a minute or so more and to take a seat and not worry. Not worry? Our Fearless Leader was out there somewhere in that terminal or, worse yet, still trying to park the beast of a Tour Bus. We began discussing our options: get off and catch the flight tomorrow, catch a flight on another airline, fly to Barcelona with no way to contact our rented apartment or Fearless Leader and hope that we meet up again sometime on the streets of Barcelona over the next few days? We were just getting out of our seats to grab our things when one of the stewards came towards us and explained security had just called and they had found our missing man. Ahhh . . . we sat back in our seats and settled in for the flight. The passengers were sitting patiently waiting for the taxi to begin when in runs this wild haired man and his carry-on. He had run a mile from the end of the parking lot and through the terminals, why stop on the plane? He ran to the very back of the plane until he realized he must be at the end of his destination; he passed us right by with the look of his mission in his eyes. Once he reached the end of the aisle we called out to him and he turned around with realization dawning on his face, enough to find the only seat left for him on the plane. Did the whole plane began clapping for him or was this just my overactive imagination playing a trick on me?

We flew, we landed, we gathered our luggage, and we hopped on the only taxi out of the two in Barcelona willing to pile in seven people at once to our awaiting apartment without any further issues, Once weWatching the fountain got into the apartment we just wanted to crash on the beds and let out a sigh of relief. We'd made it. Now what? Food. It was now after 3pm and the last thing we'd had was some of that buffet food at the Disneyland hotel before we left around 8 or 9. We had an apartment with a full kitchen, we need to use it, right? We'd been told there was a shopping area just a few block in "that" direction, so we just needed to get there, right? Well, first is was a wandering discussion over whether or not we should eat out or eat in which led to a wandering discussion that if we ate out should we go to where the action is about a half our down the metro tracks or stick around here and enjoy the pool or the beach which led to the discussion that we were discussing too much on an empty stomach and we should just decide if we should eat in or out which lead to . . . yes, the whole conversation all over again. I am sure you all know the symptoms. Finally, Grammy made up a shopping list for dinner and the next days and we figured we'd go try to find the shopping center and if we found a place to eat along the way we would stop. Mirages appeared on all corners, but it was siesta time and most of the places would not serve us, at least the places we had discussed long enough to agree on wouldn't. Finally we picked a place that served at a pace slower than even a siesta. I was getting a bit grumpy, no, I had been grumpy; my patience had run on vapors long enough and had nothing to refuel itself with, not even the salty Barcelona air seemed able to do it. The kids were grumpy when we told them they had to leave the beds, they were grumpy when we told them we couldn't let them hop in the pool, and now they were grumpy to have to sit at a table to eat a food which didn't seem to want to ever make it to the table. The promise of ice cream afterwards held them in the seats, but not quietly. Every wiggle or grimace seemed to set my nerves on end. I just wanted to get moving: eat, hunt down food and a stroller, walk back briskly and hit the pool or the beach. But by the end of the meal even this seemed improbable. Bed? Movie? They even offered to give us our date night and it goes to show you how exhausted I really was when we had to turn it down. There was no way we were going to keep our sleepy brains awake long enough to make anything out of an evening.

Eventually we drug ourselves out of the quicksand of that tapas place, let the kids play in the fountain in the courtyard, and eventually found the grocery store in the middle of the mall where we stocked up on our beer, cheese, wine, bread, and snacks; all local. We also found a stroller as the airlines wouldn't let us bring anything on for the baby who didn't have a ticket, not even the crib came to Barcelona with us. We came with the bare minimum leaving everything else behind in the Tour Bus and it felt good to be carrying a little less than normal. The new fold-up stroller was a God-send. Thank you Grammy & Pa! The thing saw more mileage than it was meant for in just the three days of Barcelona, not to mention the rest of the trip.

On the way out of the mall it began to rain. Yup, it began to rain in Barcelona. No use trying to stay dryIt was just a drizzle so we began the walk back and when we got into a park where the rain turned into downpour. We all huddled under one of the sculptures and lived in the moment with really nowhere to go and no timeframe to stick to. We were in a new and wondrous city stuck under one of it's many artistic features just watching the rain. It was a beautiful moment. It didn't matter that the beach was now out of question for the rest of the day, in fact, it just made the moment a little more relaxed. When we finally wandered back into the apartment we were all soaked and in need of dry cloths. We tucked the children into bed together and pulled out the cheese and beers. We sat on the couch and planned out our next adventure and watched a slide show of all the photos we'd taken so far on our trip. (I'm updating the photo albums to the right as I go, so feel free to look through them yourself as well.)

W.C. Report:

Considering the awful French toilets, the Spanish do a pretty good job with their toilets, though I was surprised that the restaurant we ate at shared their toilet with the next restaurant over. They seem to be just as easy to find as in any American mall. It was a welcome change.

Tragedy Report:

Shortly after leaving the plane the girls began to take stock of their backpacks full of books and toys. They'd taken out their most precious items during the short flight to play with them, some of those being the tiny Polly Pocket-style Princesses that they'd gotten in Disneyland. Squirrel Monkey let out a shriek as we walked towards Baggage Claim when she realized Sleeping Beauties tiny squirrel was MIA. I momentarily considered making my way back to the plane to collect the toy, but with everyone trying to get on with the journey as quickly as possible I had to tell her I was sorry but Squirrel would have to stay on the plane for more adventures elsewhere. She howled all the way to Baggage Claim and beyond.

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