Boarding starts early. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I am one of about 25 "Premium" passengers. There is capacity for 30. There are 5 or 6 empty seats, including the 2 next to me. I don't think economy seating is full either, but we have been given specific instructions to remain in our "class" section of the cabin so I don't know for sure.
The stewardess are sharply dressed right down to their red gloves. Everything is high tech including electronically controlled glass to darken the windows. We are immediately offered the included wine, champagne, or other beverage of your choice.
All passengers are boarded and seated at least 20 minutes prior to our scheduled departure from the gate. We quickly climb to our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. I decline the offer of food at 11:30 PM. I am not a late diner.
Three displays across the bulkhead in the front of the cabin display the ever changing important information. Altitude, ground speed, time since departure and expected time until arrival. A map showing our location and the ocal time in Newark and Barcelona are also displayed.
For the first hour the flight goes as expected, then we run into strong headwinds and turbulence. Nothing serious, but a lot more motion that what one will usually encounter on a cruise ship, and a lot faster. The captain tries flying at different altitudes. He can't escape mother nature. Our ground speed drops, and one by one minutes are added to our expected arrival time, Ultimately over 30 minutes are added.
The next 7 1/2 hours are bumpy but quiet I try to sleep but basically fail. The seats are quite comfortable with plenty of leg room and a good amount of recline, but my attempt at sleep is unsuccessful.
Breakfast is served about an hour before our scheduled landing. One cube of mellon that is barely over a bite. One half of a strawberry, two bites of prosciutto, and a roll. I will guess it cost more to cut the strawberries than it would to serve a whole one.
We hit the runway pretty hard as we land, the plane rattles and takes a hop as the tires squeal, but it is no where near the worst I have encountered. We taxi to a gate and the gangway is moved into position. It is about 1 PM local time.
Signage is excellent directing us to baggage claim and custom's clearance. I appreciate the availability of free luggage carts. Ours is the only plane that has landed recently at this terminal so it is nearly empty.
I am soon in a cab headed to my rental apartment. I can't check in until 3:00. Exactly where to meet was not specifically covered. I ring the door buzzer, but no response. Since I am early, I will wait until 3 before calling. I already know the owner won't be here as she told me she is sending a friend to accommodate my early arrival.
I knew before i booked that the Metro, or underground, or subway, whichever you prefer is across the street. There is also a grocery store, and several cafe's within a 100 feet. A fruit stand is literally at my front door, well 18 inches to the side.
A stranger approaches, I learn she is the "friend" to get me into the apartment.The apartment is interesting. I would guess the building to be 100 years old. The lift will barely hold the two of us and my two suitcases, but it is much better than trying to navigate the narrow stairs the two stories to the first floor. Actually an elevator is a luxury for many apartments in buildings of this age. It is very slow, but it works.
Even if small and old, everything is very clean. A small galley kitchen wide enough for one, no helpers here. The small fridge is almost brand new and is more than adequate for my needs. TV with cable, and free WiFi. I doubt I will even turn on the stereo. Oh, the shower, smaller than any I have ever encountered on a cruise ship, but plenty of hot water providing you remember the gas valve and water heater.
Yes, If you want hot water, you first must turn on the gas, and then the instant hot water heater. When hot water is not needed, or you are not using the stove, the gas is to be turned off. I "heard" something about a gas leak in the building. I consciously attribute my understanding to a loss of meaning in a conversation between a person that doesn't speak English and a person that doesn't understand Catalan. I'm not concerned, the building has been here for over a hundred years, it will make it another five days. Well at least the odds are in my favor.
I unpack and head to the market to get a few basics. I didn't think to take a shopping bag with me, so I had to pay two cents for a disposable one, a common practice in much of Europe.
My next venture is into the metro to turn my voucher, bought at home, into a usable ticket. After studying the kiosk I think I have it figured out. Everything works except no ticket is dispensed. Kiosks just are not cooperating with me on this trip. While I am pondering my error, another person purchases a ticket, and two are dispensed. Problem solved, not my error, just stuck in the machine.
I explore the local neighborhood, grab a bite to eat at a nearby cafe, and hit the pillow early. It has been a long day and a half.