Well, as it turns out I picked the most appropriate name possible for this blog, aventura bonita!
I should start with I arrived in Madrid earlier today, Saturday the 4th. However, let me tell you that was no easy task! What an adventure it has been getting here.
The first part of this story begins a few weeks ago when I realized I had been mistaken and I was not leaving on the 3rd of January, I was leaving on the 4th! Because I was leaving on Saturday…silly Katie. For my last week in the U.S. I had some wonderful plans of relaxed packing, final meals, and plenty of goodbyes. So, you can imagine my surprise on Thursday at 5pm when I check my email and see a message from US Airways reminding me to check in up to 24 hrs in advance for my flight. After a moment’s hesitation, I realized that I actually had been correct – I was leaving on the third – as in tomorrow! All of my nice plans went right out the window in that moment. I can’t lie, there was some panic on my part, and because I hadn’t started packing ran upstairs and started pulling clothes off the shelves.
Well, I got all packed and calmed down after a glass of wine or two, and was able to enjoy my last evening with a delicious dinner, a favorite movie, and Dodger. But all through this mini-packing adventure, snow had been falling. And it kept falling.
As (luck?) would have it, a nice winter storm came and left and beautiful layer of snow on the Northeast. Unfortunately, this made traveling from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Madrid a bit more stressful. Monitoring the flights carefully, Philly was averaging 3 hour delays on incoming flights. My layover was not three hours. Luckily, I have a good friend there who was willing to put me up for the night if need be, and at this point I was just going to roll with whatever punches came my way.
On the way to the airport, I got the first phone call (of five?) from US Air saying that my flight had been delayed by 30 minutes. Not a biggie. I got to the gate, boarded, and everything seemed alright with the thirty minute delay. However, upon speaking with one of the crew members, we would probably be on the runway for at least another half an hour. Still okay. About ten minutes later, turns out we won’t be taking off for another hour and so they are letting us get off the plane. Not good. I learned long ago and from countless stories, this is not a good sign. I wasn’t going anywhere until they called all of the passengers with connections to go speak to the gate desk (half of the plane got off). After ten minutes of standing in line with some not-too-patients fellow travelers, they frantically called us all to get back on the plane, our flight time had been moved back up….like I said, an adventure.
In what feels like a miracle, the flight to Madrid has been delayed and I had time to get to the gate (a hike), grab some food, and meet my roommate Jenny. We boarded the flight on time and were in our seats for about 45 minutes or more when they let us know that we were going to wait for the connecting flights so we can get all of the passengers. As a relatively frequent traveler, and one who was almost in the same position, I was happy to hear this. I never begrudge the airline for something like this. But then we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally an hour and half later we have all of the passengers, and push back from the gate. And sit there. For another thirty minutes until the pilot announces we will need to go to the de-icing station! *sigh* Another 45 minutes or longer (and without movies or air conditioning) sitting on the ground. At this point, I’m starting to doze off because 1. I can’t stay awake on planes 2. It’s warm and 3. I have to be up in about six hours to start my tour of Europe!
Finally, at 10:35 the plane takes off amongst claps from the already weary passengers. What was originally a 6:45 flight now is four hours late. A great adventure! Some hostess-and-turbulence airplane sleep followed for me until we we landed around 11:15am local time. Walked right through customs (just had to show my passport) and out the doors! Although I was secretly hoping that my baggage would be lost and just meet me in Granada, it was all there.
A bottle of water and cup of coffee later, the ISA staff met us and we shuffled out in the rain (yes, it’s 50 and rainy bleh) and took the bus to our hotel, which is where I sit now after a nice lunch (with wine of course) and a shower.
Like I said, a beautiful adventure! Hopefully more to come.