Barcelona, Bilbao, Basques, and Biarritz

May 2003

I got nervous when the clerk at the check-in counter paged me. There was still a crowd gathered there and they didn't look happy. I had heard that the flight was overbooked, but I had an assigned seat. I hoped.

The clerk asked for my boarding pass and replaced it with a new one, making no comment. I glanced at the new one. Seat 11G. Something told me that, whereas my former Seat 26A was smack dab in the middle of coach, 11G was mighty close to the lofty atmosphere of business class.

Then they called for first and business class to board -- rows 1 through 16.

I knew it was going to be a good trip.

I had never before experienced life behind the cabin curtains. All of my preparations for the eight hour flight -- noise-cancelling headphones, gourmet sandwiches prepared at home, laptop and DVDs in case the movie sucks -- paled by comparison to the simple luxury of a seat that reclined fully, a foot rest, and flight crew at your beckon call.

Dinner was prepared, not slapped from a hot tray onto a plastic tray. No foil wrapping, but actual china. Okay, so the knife was plastic, but I got a metal fork and spoon. I slept -- actually slept -- on the flight. I woke up and was able to wash up using a real washcloth before being served breakfast.

I arrived in Barcelona feeling rested and able to face the day -- or at least the trip from the airport to Antonia's flat. As promised, Antonia met me and we took the bus into town and the subway up the hill to her flat. Easy. Painless. I had crossed the Atlantic with energy to spare.

The terrace attached to Antonia's sopra attico flat is a thing of wonder -- a vast sea of terra cotta just high enough to provide a view of the sea across the rooftops of Barcelona. We were soon ensconced with coffee and pasteries.

Later I managed a brief shopping foray to Fnac, a European chain somewhere between Tower, Barnes and Noble, and The Wiz. I was shopping for Spanish CDs, but I could have stocked up on books, movies, computers, or personal electronics as well.

After a nap back at the flat we entertained Antonia's friend Scott, a technical writer with whom I'd exchagned some business related email in the past.

Siesta aside, I was out like a light when we finally turned them off around midnight.

Please No reading -- just show me the pictures

Elephant and Castle -- one of many unsusal rain spouts circling the cathedral rooftop.

Copyright 2002 Mia's Mar Vista News. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction by permission only.