Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back we go again

My car was recently in for the 4th time for a problem that began last year and just can't seem to get fixed. It was with that in mind that we headed off to the airport yesterday morning with visions in my head of us standing by the side of the road alongside a dead car while we watched our plane take off, thus ruining a vacation before it even began. But the car held itself together and we got to the airport on time and things began to unfold just as they should.

Beginning with the security check. We both lucked out by getting TSA Precheck which means no unloading of things and no removing of shoes, a nice gift from whatever powers control our Travel Fate. All was rolling along nicely until the rube in front of me decided that he and the woman in front of him had to stand right at the x-ray machine output and gather their goods instead of taking advantage of the 20 foot conveyor that our government was graciously providing. When I suggested he move down, he countered with how hard it was and instead continue to rummage through his backpack. Choosing to avoid a federal beef I let it go and just grumbled under my breath while trying to pull my stuff through the 6" of space he was allowing me.

The first leg went well and the second let went well enough once they dealt with the cargo problem that cost us 15 minutes and the pilot scheduling error that meant another 30 minutes. We got underway, got fed and settled in to watch some movies. Dallas Buyer's Club was excellent which is far more than I can say for Nebraska which seemed to have a hard time deciding if it was August, Osage County or National Lampoons Summer Vacation. I guess it got a nomination for best picture based on the fact that it was shot in black and white because beyond that, the only redeeming value for me was the soundtrack. I was glad when it was over.

I had about 5 hours left so I decided to try and catch some sleep, something that is very difficult for me. You see, I am the kind of person who cannot sleep unless every little thing is just perfect. Things like my eyebrows being symmetrically aligned and no toes being within 4 inches of the edge of the bed. Never mind the lightshow from the plane cabin that plays on your closed eyelids or the constant rummaging around of the crew in the galley. In short it's rare when I fall asleep and ever rarer when I remain so for more than 10 minutes. On this trip though I did manage to nod off, only to wake up with the toes on my left foot permanently numb and my left eye so out of focus that even the clearest and cleanest Coke bottle bottom couldn't improve on it. However, looking at the clock I realized I'd been out for almost 90 minutes so it was a win, physical damage aside.

We arrived an hour late, caught a cab, had a nice conversation with the cabbie regarding the state of the world economy and then planted ourselves at Atocha station for the 2 hour wait for our train. The coffee was good and we were greatly entertained by a large group of Boomer Americans attempting to order iced tea. The time passed well and before long we were plowing our way across the Spanish meseta on our way to Sevilla. Things have changed a bit in the intervening years - when we first rode Renfe there were strict rules about cell phone usage that people assiduously observed. Ringers were turned down and people spoke sotto voce. Alas, no more. Today it was hard to tell whether I was on a train in Spain or a place in China because it was noisy as heck. Technology marches on I guess.

Our train was on time and we killed a few minutes in the station trying to contact our rental agent before grabbing a cab and heading into the old city. I was surprised how fast we got there, remembering a long walk to the station once on last year's trip. I was doubly surprised to be deposited in front of our favorite tapas bar which is where the provided address turned out to be. The agent showed up and we walked to our place which turned out to be across the alley from our second favorite tapas place, on the first floor of a beautiful building that features a light shaft in the center, bathed in sunlight and bird song. A big step up from last year's place that had the 10' extension cord on the microwave that had to be run across the middle of the kitchen floor. We unpacked, took a quick trip to the big market for fruit, bread, cheese, jamon, and yogurt and then headed out to find some dinner after unpacking our supplies. Rather than mess around we went back down the street to our favorite tapas place and filled ourselves up on duck magret, garlic mushrooms, papas, a glass of beer and a copa de tinto. The day wound down watching the swifts wheel around the Giralda as the sun set behind it and categorizing the tourists walking up and down the street, reading menus.

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