Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Barcelona to Beijing - the trip around the other way

As we had traveled from opposite ends of the Earth our departure times were pretty different - hers was much earlier than mine but “Gallant” being my middle name, I decided to accompany her to the airport 6 hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. I figured I would see her off and hole up in the Star Alliance lounge and nurse the black mood I was in having discovered that my wait in Beijing had extended from 4 hours to 8 due to some sort of unexplained delay.

We had arranged for a cab with the front desk before turning in and it was not there when we went down at 6:30. Another pulled up and the same boxer-like guy who had met us on arrival told us not to take it. It was a strange moment, something about this not being the one they called and it not being “secure” so we went back in the lobby to wait. While it has been very nice to have a little Spanish here in Spain, some conversations were a little too tough to decipher.

A group of drunken young men came by and tried to come in and the boxer made it clear that they were not welcome. Guys like this are a not very nice part of staying on La Rambla; the partying goes on until dawn and if your room overlooks the street you are treated to yelling and screaming and even groups singing what must be futbol songs until 5 in the morning. The upside is convenience, the downside noise. You really end up with perhaps one quiet hour before the businesses start opening up and the noise of deliveries brings to mind the never ending explosions of firecrackers I hear in my Chinese neighborhood. Next time, La Rambla for sure but definitely on a side street.

The ride to the airport was faster than expected as was our check-in process. Security was a breeze although the layout of the area more or less forced you to carry trays with your belongings while trying to lead your suitcases over to the metal detectors. Once inside we found a small café and had orange juice and croissants and a cup of coffee at a stand-up coffee bar. I waited with My Lovely Wife and sent her down the jet way on her leg to London at 8:40 heading back to my lonely bachelor existence.

So now I’m killing time in yet another lounge listening to the conversations of the business people around me. One man speaking Catalan complaining about a strike in Greece that upended his travel plans. Two very loud American military officers talking about the logistics of moving vehicles between the Navy and the Marines, feeling for some reason that explicit language helps convey their message more clearly. It does send a message, but I suspect it’s not the one they intend. Lounge crowds are such a mish-mash.

For me, it’s here to Munich and then on to Beijing where I have the option of trying to find an earlier flight of just dealing with the cards I’ve been dealt. It’s a funny thing, it usually seems as though there are a hundred flights a day to Dalian, but for some reason not today. Ah well, we see how it goes, perhaps another night at the Shangri La is in order.

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