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Entries in Chris Pasley (14)

Sunday
Jul202008

English Lesson #12: No Recuerdo

My fellow Road Scholar, Chris, started bugging me to write an update about our trip to BarcelonaEngland. ever since we got on the plane to fly back to I figure I better write the update and get Chris off my back before an entire year goes by since the trip. In case you’ve been in a Road Scholars vacuum, the delayed update is due in large part to the topic of another TRS blog: The Speed Bump Chronicles. But I’m not here to make excuses, I’m here to tell stories; and this story will have to be told mainly in pictures because, quite honestly, I don’t remember much of it. That’s a function of both how much time has passed and how much of a good time we had.

After my harem left, I had exactly ten days to myself before my friend and veteran Road Scholar Chris Pasley arrived. Chris would be with me for two weekends and we planned overnight trips for each one. After much debate, it was decided we would visit Barcelona, Spain the first weekend and hang out in London on weekend number two. We planned London for the second weekend so Chris could stay closer to the airport to catch his flight home. Unfortunately, that meant after his ten hour flight from Los Angeles, he would have the privilege of hanging out at Heathrow airport until I met up with him to catch our flight to Barcelona.

By now it should be a forgone conclusion that I didn’t travel anywhere without my new Road Scholar companion, Mark. We left work about noon on Friday and headed to the airport. To avoid having to take the train, Mark decided to simply return his rental car for the weekend, a strategy he’d already used for previous trips. The plan was working wonderfully. We dropped off the car, took the shuttle to our terminal, and made the rendezvous with Chris without a hitch (I sent Jen’s cell phone home with the girls and Chris picked it up from them before flying out from LA so I could communicate with him after he arrived in London).

Mark and I made our way to the check in counter at Iberia airlines. With plenty of time to kill between flights, Chris had already checked in for the short flight to Barcelona. Iberia’s check in procedure was very much like the procedure at Venice’s Marco Polo airport; flight numbers are listed on an electronic status board and next to them the numbers of the ticket counters that are processing that flight. Mark and I checked the board: counters one through six. We stood in line for counter number six because it was the closest to us. It soon became apparent that we picked the slowest line available. Everybody was moving faster than we were. Several times we contemplated switching lines, but finally decided we had too much invested and Murphy would likely not be on our side. We stayed put. Finally, it was our turn. We were in the wrong line. Flights to Barcelona were being handled at counters one through five. I was furious, but there was a hint of a language barrier and, after my speech to the girls about keeping a low profile, I was trying to practice what I preach. I mumbled under my breath that the sign said one through six and Mark and I dragged our bags over to the line for desks one through five, which of course by now was the longest line in the place.

Eventually we arrived in Barcelona. Usually when I travel to a new city, especially one with a rail system, I bring along with me one of those laminated streetwise maps that includes points of interests and mass transit stops. I must have been in vacation mode for Barcelona because we took the tram from the airport, arrived in the main train station, and had absolutely no clue where we were trying to go. It took me about thirty minutes of flipping through maps in a gift shop to remember I brought the GPS with me. This is what happens when I travel sober. This is probably a good time to mention the weather in Barcelona was beautiful. Compared to England, the 80 degrees in Spain felt like Vegas in the summertime. I think the heat was starting to affect me, and I was definitely getting parched. Another thirty minutes of figuring out the rail system and we finally were on our way to the hotel.

Barcelona is famous for many things: the works of Antoni Gaudi, including Las Pedreras and Sagrada Familia; Las Ramblas, a huge pedestrian retail and restaurant zone; its sea port; the Olympic park from the 1992 summer games; topless beaches; and, of course, tapas. We took it all in. Mark even got solicited by a prostitute at Las Ramblas. Nicest place. From one liter cervezas at the sea port to our ad hoc pub crawl on the back alleys of Las Ramblas to Chris’ purchase of the green fairy, a good time was had by all…at least that’s what it looks like from the pictures.