Tuesday, August 30, 2011

getting there is half the fun

Leaving the United States never goes as smoothly as it could.  I completely blame this on the fact that Southwest Airlines doesn't fly internationally, although it's hard to blame Hurricane Irene on that fact.  Because the storm was hitting NYC and my hometown on Saturday & Sunday, I was unsure if my flight would leave as scheduled Monday evening.  It did, but after the Northeast was on hold for 2 days, the train was sold out to the city and parts of the thruway were closed.  I ended up taking a shuttle from the Albany airport down to JFK.  Typically the drive is about 3 hours, but because the thruway was closed the ride ended up being around 6 hours.  Thankfully I had left at 9:30am, so I still had plenty of time to sit around the airport.  My flights went well, I accidentally packed my faithful Dramamine in my checked luggage so I was force to rely on red wine to knock me out.  It did, but only after I played several levels of airport mania and watched Water for Elephants.

I arrived in Geneva Switzerland at some point earlier today ( I am beyond confused with time zones and jet lag) Where I had to clear customs once to leave the international terminal and again when I entered a different international terminal.  My fight to barcelona wasn't listed yet, so I had no idea which terminal to go to, so I had wandered into "B" which was not the correct guess.  I then asked 2 different employees how to find terminal "D" and all they kept telling me was to go up the stairs.... ( escalator for the record and not labled that its terminal D at all.)

My arrival into Barcelona lacked any kind of fanfare.  The most stressful 10 minutes was while watching the baggage claim pop out bags and question if my luggage had made it.  I had my doubts, but thankfully it did join me for my journey.  There was no customs once I arrived (or maybe I snuck into the country) but I'm bummed I didn't receive a stamp in my passport.  I also question how they maintain any form of records of my arrival/departure since I never checked in with anyone.  Thankfully that means I wasn't questioned about the 18 pack of Luna Mini's I smuggled in with my stuff.

I took a cab rather than attempting public transportation primarily because I'm so tired that I'm certain I'd end up back in Geneva somehow.  The driver wasn't totally sure of where I was staying (and either was I) so he left me near the metro stop that my Lonely Planet said it was near.  Unfortunately my GPS and googlemaps have destroyed any ability I may have had in reading maps.  I aimlessly wandered around the streets for close to 35 minutes before I finally began to understand where I was in relation to the map.  The hostel is quite nice and within walking distance to the beach.  Not super close, but still walkable.  I wandered around a bit hoping to stay awake until an acceptable hour.

The first thing I attempted to order in Spanish was an Iced Green Tea from Starbucks and the barista could tell I was American from 3 blocks away.  I definitely have a lot to learn. I still can't believe I'm actually here.  Never in a million years did I think I had the guts to travel abroad alone.

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