Day one: So long SF, hello Barcelona

Off on another adventure today.  Sisters and I had a mid-afternoon departure so that gave me time this morning to get the kids over for breakfast and a brief visit with their aunties.  Of course the last minute second guessing my luggage threw me off my schedule and turned into disorganized packing and rushing around.  I’m usually not this careless and sure enough I forgot several things.  We took off around 11am and the original plan was to take the BART train to SFO. However,in true Diego form we ended calling Femi from the town car service to meet us at my office.  Honestly, sometimes it’s just they way to go and eases the stress  We arrived at SFO with hours to spare and headed off to the Air France lounge to wait it out.  For me, I was finally able to sit down for two hours and bang out the work I thought I was going to get done this morning.  I set up shop at one table while my sisters sat  behind me.  After 15 years taking care of our elderly father and transporting him twice a year between two counties, Vonny’s autopilot kicked in as she delivered plates of sandwiches and fruit cups to my table as I worked and ensured I was properly hydrated.  I looked up at her and said, “Am I Dad now?”  “Yup.” She said.

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At boarding, I still has to resolve the issue that I was not seated with my sisters. The gate attendant was the same gentleman who checked our bags.   He’s managed to score me a window seat in row 11.  Vonny and Linda were in row 46….  Anyway, they boarded first and I told them to get on and see if their seat mate would trade.  I waited a bit as I didn’t want to get into the cattle call of people boarding.  However the kind gate attendant waves me on through the empty premier boarding line.  Why thank you, sir!  I made my way to row 11 and found that row 10 did not have a seat at the window.  That meant here was an extra 2.5 feet two stretch out!  What an excellent seat in row 11!  If it wasn’t for the fact that my two sisters were in the back it would have major score!  Alas, upon discovery of this treat I immediately received a text from the back 40 saying the gentleman was happy to trade. So bags and I schlepped back 35 rows.  When I got back there, my sisters were laughing because when they made the request to trade seats, the Frenchman made hand gestures as if typing and said, “Oh the blond on the computer?”  What?  I guess the dude was in the lounge with us and must have observed the two hours I frantically spent trying to get work done….or the moment I finished, threw up my arms and declared, “Yes! Vacation now!”

It’s a very large double decker plane with a very cool stairs in the back that curved to the second level. Very handy when one wants to stretch their legs. Like a previous KLM flight, the TV screen came equipt with a USB port to keep devices charged.  They have far more move offerings than other airlines inducing a very large selection of French films which is a big plus for me. They were very kind to warn me of the contents. Trust me, I’m from the land of American films of gratuitous sex, violence, drugs and ridiculous Disney princesses,  my “sensibilities” can’t be offended more than that solely on a movie about Yves Saint Laurent.

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But the most awesome thing in this gigantic airbus had to be the tail mounted camera.  From it you could have an exterior view of takeoff, landing and the flight I between. I think I watched this view of the plane more than in-flight movies.  Apparently there was a nose camera too but it wasn’t working. To bad, that would have been a surreal visual.

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Unlike my KLM experience of being fed well balanced snacks every 2 hours, this airlines is Air France so I was pleased that in-flight meal was quite tastefully arranged for airplane food, with a “wheat germ” and shiitake salad and an option of mustard grain chicken or goat cheese ravioli.  However I was puzzled by the random tub of Motts applesauce. Do the French like applesauce?  What was most impressive was that wine and other aperitifs were provided WITH dinner, no one asking for my credit card.  At the end of dinner, along with coffee they offered cognac.  How tres magnifique!

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We ended up late to Paris and we had less than an hour to catch our connection to Barcelona.  This less than an hour was greatly reduced as we were held up at security by repeated beeping of the metal detector, Vonny’s bag search over a bottle of face lotion and Linda’s need for a restroom.  Another dash to airport tram…passport check (where the very aloof passport agent gave me a very slow slide glance and sent me on my way with a quick side jerk of his head) and dashed  across another long stretch to the gate. As we rushed I passed the French shop Reppetto and it took all my being not to stop and look at their shoes…devastating. A bit late but we made it. As I had anticipated due the number of passengers trying to make this connection from SFO, they held the flight.  It appeared the three if us were the last three they were waiting for.  We crossed our fingers and hoped the luggage would make it too.

In a short flight, we made it to Barcelona , Met by William, another wonderful driver, he took our bags and transported these three weary travelers to the Royal Hotel all the while telling us about the sites as we go. I can’t remember much.

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I really needed sleep by this point.  The location could not have been better, smack in the middle of Las Ramblas. Traveling with my sisters, this get’s about as close to budget travel as we go (ha ha). Perfect room for 3 sisters of a certain age.

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After a short nap we went for an evening stroll that turned into evening shopping and dinner and goofing off.

I loved strolling these narrow streets.  The old buildings with shuttered windows, rod iron balcony railings, intimate parks behind stone walls, small markets and vendors. The echo of Spanish voices in this cafe society life.  You know how people say the grass is always greener?  It is indeed and I love this city already.  Full of people and excitement into the night.

 

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I was overwhelmed by the number of people out and about into the late hour. This is my kind of culture. But it’s only brief glimpse.  We are off on a cruise to France and Italy tomorrow morning and will be gone for a week. My review of Barcelona will have to continue next Sunday.  Good night.

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Click here for Day 2

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