The Hacienda Hotel, as it turned out, was an experiment which we won’t repeat. Its prime business seems to be airline crews. Very little room was accessible to park and unload our bags. After check in, I asked for a help and the Bell Captain came out and unloaded the luggage (TIP). Since there was no bell closet, the Bell Captain left our bags on the curb and disappeared. The shuttle bus was trying to back up and we were in the way. Another car came in the drive and we were in the way. In fact, for most of our stay, we were in the way.


I drove to the parking lot behind the hotel, and my card would not open the gate. Another car came and I backed out hoping to get in on his card swipe. He tried four or five times and backed out as a third car appeared. She tried many, many times, backed up and went away.


I called Michael. She sent the security guard who was playing bellman and had escorted her and the four bags to our room in the distant South Tower (TIP). He came to the parking lot and opened the gate for the two cars. The woman had disappeared into the night.


In the morning, at 5:30 AM, a different security officer lugged our bags to the shuttle (TIP). The shuttle guy loaded our bags, and then unloaded them at Delta (TIP).


At Delta, (and this is a tip), we got a Skycap with a flatbed cart. Remember, these are large bags. We packed for two climates, and each nudged the 50lb limit. He took us to the special Skycap ticketing counter; no line and fast service (TIP). I hadn’t left town yet and I was already down $40.


The whole reason for our stay overnight at the Hacienda was the predicted major storm scheduled to hit in the early hours. We took off into blue skies.


We had great seats in economy on the flight to NY. Delta’s 757’s have two seats by the main exit door on the right. Instead of the “three” configuration, the space for the third seat is exactly that; space.


Not so good was the flight out of NY. After we arrived at JFK, we ate at a Chiles Too before it was time to board for Barcelona. We had seats on the 767’s “two” side pretty far towards the back. As we neared our seats I started to take off my leather jacket. What leather jacket?? I had left it on the chair at Chiles.


Now I had to fight the incoming horde to get to the door at the front of the plane to go back into the airport.

“You can’t do that,” said the flight attendant, “We’ll have to escort you off and back on”. My escort was the First Officer (co-pilot) and he had to accompany me the long walk around a few corners to Chiles. My waiter was just taking a break and I caught him outside the restaurant. He had the jacket stashed in the back. The uniformed pilot with me in leather headed back to the plane.


As I walked towards the rear of the plane various people asked if I had found the jacket. (I was wearing it). Word had spread that I was the idiot of the day.


If you’ve flown economy, you probably suspect, as I do, that the erased CIA tapes showed someone belted into an economy seat. After we took off, Michael and I put our seats into the luxurious three inch recline. Immediately, the heavyset woman behind me banged on my seat and said I was touching her knees. I moved the seat out of knee intimacy. The woman in front of me reclined and touched my knees. It was a long night.


With all that in mind, realize that I had to walk three times through Delta’s business class with their new lie flat seats. Kind of like making a poor kid walk through Toys ‘R Us the day before Christmas.


We landed early in Barcelona, tailwind, zipped through immigration,  and our luggage among the first off the ramp. We loaded it onto two free carts (no TIP), and headed out to meet our tour guide.


Patrico was waiting for us with a sign that said “Geoff Edwards”. He was relieved to see us. Apparently, he had confused our 7AM arrival time for the date, and had waited three hours for us the day before.


That was his surprise. Ours was that it was still night and dark. “Oh yes,” said Patrico. “This is our winter and it doesn’t get light until 8.”dsc00120.JPGdsc00135.JPG



Halfway into our tour, the sun rose over Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city, marked by wonderful architecture, and although marred by graffiti, kept very clean and litter free.


 It was too early to shop, but we watched vendors setting up their Christmas wares. Cars were arriving with holly branches, trees being set up, and Santa Clauses being arrayed. All seemed in a great mood.  dsc00142.JPG dsc00145.JPG

At nine we were dropped off at the pier. Checking in would not be for an hour; boarding for an hour and a half. I snagged a baggage handler and, although too early, asked him to take care of the bags (TIP).


Having an hour to fill, we headed to a coffee/food/bar at the far end of the terminal building that Michael had seen on our way in. While she stood in line to get us some coffee, I went to the men’s room. The men’s room was single occupancy, and although spacious, contained only a sink and toilet. A glowing red button identified the light switch. I turned on the lights and locked the door. Travel and the 9 hour change in time have an effect, so I know you’ll understand when I tell you I was sitting, not standing.


In what seemed like less than a minute, the lights started to dim, then go out. I was in total blackness, except for that glowing red dot way over there. Yes, I did crash into the sink trying to get to the little red glow. But, not the second time.dsc00121.JPG


Checking in and boarding took a bit of time, but even with 3000 folks to put through the process, it moved smoothly. We are Diamond members of the Crown and Anchor Society, which means we’ve sailed with RCCL over five times, and we get a few perks. One is quicker check in, and today that was more than welcome.


Cabins were not available until 1 PM, almost 24 hours after we had last left a bed. We grabbed lunch in the Windjammer café and counted the minutes until 1.


It was quite a day.dsc00158.JPG

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