The preparation just about killed us. Yesterday, I finally decided to take my Sony Vaio instead of my PowerBook. So in the afternoon, while Kurt was running errands, I asked him to get me a spare battery. It was a bit after 6, and calling around to all the Fry's in the area yielded nada. But one guy at Fry's was actually helpful (he's probably fired now), and told me to check the Sony Style store. First, I called Valley Fair, and they had a heavy battery extender, and then I called Stanford. They had it!! But it was 6:40 and they closed at 7. I called Phil and asked him to hop in his car and race over there. Kurt was out and about and on his way north, and he proceeded there. Phil got there a few minutes before Kurt, with four minutes to spare, and got the battery! Woo-hoo! It's the little things in life... now I have 8 hours of entertainment pleasure waiting for me on the plane.
In the AM, I madly dashed off a letter to the IRS (long story), and finished an important note to one of my clients. As soon as I sent it, my mother-in-law was at the door with Phil, ready to pick us up. Three outfit changes later, and we were off, with luggage in the rear and Coda in my lap. I think she sensed that we might be leaving.
We checked in (no line) four hours early, hoping to get an exit row. Because the flight is oversold, they're not giving those away until the gate opens at 12:45. This also means our upgrade is unlikely. But fortunately Kurt & I are in a mini row of our own (on the side of the plane), and Phil has an aisle seat a few rows back.
We holed up in the Red Carpet Club while waiting. Phil and I dashed out to Il Fornaio and bought some lunch to bring back to the club. It was yummy! I left early to go wait at the gate to see if we would get our exit row. No dice. The flight was very full.
When it came time to board, we waited for our upgrade. No dice again... only 1Ks got upgrades. At least our seats were in premier economy. Phil was about 10 rows back in regular economy, but at least he had an aisle.
Imagine my surprise when the rows were 3-4-3 rather than 2-5-2. Sitting in the middle seat was a young German man (18ish), with bleached short-cropped hair wearing a tank top that said "Yes, sir". (He reminded me a bit of the young German woman I sat next to last year on my way to Germany.)
We gave him the window, and Kurt got the aisle. The young man proceeded to tell me that he'd just spent 3 weeks visiting SF for the first time. The trip was all paid for by some guy he'd met in Germany last year, who was a bit older and I guess had a nice job. The fellow kept mentioning his boyfriend, who did not come on the trip. I asked him what his boyfriend thought of all this, and he said "we'll see what happens when I get back". Mysterious! After a brief spot chatting, the fellow was quiet for the rest of the trip, listening to the new iPod this guy had given him as well. (Nice friend!)
Kurt and I watched the Return of the King (extended version), and Orange County on my little Vaio laptop. It helped pass the time nicely. The extra battery I bought came in handy, and the two batteries together lasted the entire trip.
We landed in Frankfurt on time (I think), at around 10 AM, and walked miles to get over to the proper terminal where our flight was to leave from. As we had a couple hours between flights, I wanted to go to one of the airline clubs to nap. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me bring two guests in (only one), so we left and went to wait in the gate area.
Our flight left a little late. This time we were all in the same row. I curled up in Kurt's lap and half slept the entire flight. We arrived in Barcelona at about 2:30.
Barcelona is a very nice airport. It's huge! Where the ceilings in Frankfurt's airport are low and claustrophic, the building in Barcelona is expansive. It looks fairly new, has a lot of shopping, and did I mention... it's huge!
But as smoking is allowed in the airport, parts of it (like the bathrooms) are also a little disgusting. It's difficult to get away from the smoke, perhaps more so (from what I've seen so far) than even in other parts of Europe.
We walked down to baggage claim where baggage was already streaming out. (It was a lonnnng walk, but the baggage handlers must be very efficient nevertheless.) Sadly, only two of our bags came out. Mine were missing. So we waited in a not-as-efficient line to report the missing bags.
They told me that mine had missed the flight (odd, since we had such a long layover), and would be arriving in the evening. We found out later this was not to be.