Thursday, January 8, 2009

un cafe por favor!!!!!

Well, I've spent my first full 24 hours in Spain and am enjoying it, the love/hate relationship with the place I enjoy and love so much ~ but at the same time hating it.... flashback to the journey....

Started early and drove my sister to work as normal and when I got home, finished moving the stuff into my carry-on, which I decided my usual small camera bag was too small as I stuff it with camera, lens, accessories of both camera and laptop, and CLOTHES! It was simply too much this time and decided my slightly bigger wheeled bag would be better, and it was, though I left a lens and tripod at home, plus a few other things. Then I discovered I hadn't packed any clothes at all, so had to last-minute pack enough to last me a month in my spanish apartment.

That done, went down to wait for my transport to the airport with my two bursting at the seams suitcases.... I had so much in hand that I decided to also leave at home the hanging chair I picked up at a street fair, to hang in my balcony so I can enjoy the warm bright sol.... Once at the airport, I discovered I waited 32,8 minutes at the wrong place, and had to move all my stuff about 100 feet to the proper place. The line wasn't too bad and it took only about 20minutes to get to finally check in, something I wasn't allowed to do online to make my airport experience a bit better. Once rid of my two big suitcases which I paid a few bucks to encase in plastic - and glad I did - I sat and waited for the flight to leave a few hours later... I've always showed up hours earlier than necessary for my flights and even in recent times as much as over eight hours!! The plane was a 747 and was to be the second time I've flown on a 747... it wasn't the smoothest ride but certainly wasn't the worst. I hoped to see my City from above but the fog and cloud-covered Bay Area prevented that.....

The flight went well though I intentionally did so that I can sleep well after reaching bed-time in Sevilla. I was very happy to be able to watch three films I've never seen previously and actually enjoyed these movies!!! An adorable little baby boy sat with his single mother in the seat in front of me and I spent most of my time entertaining... then we landed at Frankfurt, Germany and now this is a different chapter!

I've flown many times into Frankfurt but this was the worst experience yet! Now they have regulations that require NON-EU travelers to pass through TWO separate and very strict security checkpoints though they may just be connecting with other flights.... I normally wouldn't mind this as it ensures WE are safe while traveling, but the sensitivity of the metal-detectors was so high that even my credit cards were hit by the metal detectors. A security man then hand-wanded me and the credit cards sounded again; he looked at my credit cards, felt them then returned them to me. Personally I wondered if he was memorizing my numbers!! Really... to configure detectors so high as to even ping on credit cards is stupid, making unnecessary work for the security personnel and to build a very huge inconvenience for already weary travelers. As result, I will now be booking my flights to someplace other than Germany and the UK, which I was told today has the same strict rules.

From Germany to Barcelona (BCN) was okay save for slight rough weather, and BCN is not a bad place but it's a very boring and commercial airport, so I don't enjoy being there. Of course the signs in catalan, english and spanish aren't too kind either..... grrrrrr

Take-off from BCN was during a most golden and cloudy sunset, and managed to get a snapshot from inside the terminal as the flight departed typically 12mins late from the catalan airport. As we finally climbed to the cruise attitude, the sunset grew in color from orange-red to blood-red and lasted a veeeery long time. I snapped away even as my camera battery flashed steadily since I forgot to charge it a final time before departure from SFO, being too busy with other things. When I arrived at the Sevilla airport, I already noticed changes in that small airport. In the past, it has always taken them 20mins or more to start loading the bags to the claim baggage area; this time it took them 15mins. I was impressed!! Plus the ramp leading to the baggage claim area was more direct and thus quicker. Again I was glad to be in Spain as the airport baggage push carts are free to use, unlike in the states. After picking up my still-wrapped in plastic suitcases, I trudged out to the sidewalk to await my friends but not till I had helped a few people getting to Sevilla to find their stuff and get to the taxis or the bus. I was shocked at how the departure pickup area was so changed, and more confusing to me as a traveler than a driver who has to pick up someone... I was glad to have seen these changes so in the chance one of my family or friends visit me and I had to drive to Sevilla to get them, at least I am familiar with the airport renovations.

At my friend's house later, I got busy getting my stuff in order so when I bus to Rota on Friday, things would be organized. I also wanted to let friend's and family know I was finally arrived and back so that they could finally celebration my absence - hahahahahaaaaaa I was tired from the long trip and my eyes were blinking like falling stars upon my weary body, but finally after 2am Wednesday night did I finally get to sleep. I must've been very tired because they have a grandfather clock and I didn't hear it at all all that time I slept... till after 11am later that day. After showering I took the bus to Sevilla, then walked downtown from the plaza de Armas bus station to see the sights, see what changes had happened since my departure from Spain, and to look for a few things for friends.
Can you believe this unedited and uncropped picture was created with a cell camera?

I was personally shocked at the number of businesses that I had seen that were now closed. On one busy main street in the center of town typically termed the street of the bridesmaids, due to the many businesses catering to that..... I found the street almost barren and empty so many businesses were now gone. It was sad to see this..... It is amazing how much the economy in one region of the world can interfere and affect so many others. Don't people realize how everything and anything is internationally, as well as locally inter-related?

Though the sol shone warmly in an otherwise-chilly clear sky over Sevilla, there were people abound, but just not buying. I saw lots of empty stores with a lone salesperson within. The cigarette smoke from the many smokers left a smell in the air where I walked, and I aimed for the clear spot around them. I walked into many stores to get an idea of current prices per product since I'd been gone so long, and it wasn't encouraging though I was glad to see prices hadn't skyrocketed as I thought would happen. My camera battery was dead so it stayed in the house being charged so I charged my cell phone just enough so I could use it as my camera in the streets of downtown Sevilla!
In Sevilla some cafe bars still use chalk to record a customer's tally on the metal/wood counters. These days this isn't seen too often but always a flash to the past when I see it done...

In bright sunlight it gives quite good results and I am always happy with the pictures it allows me to capture when big heavy camera isn't available. With a SIM card within that I had purchased at the BCN airport,
I now have a spanish cell phone number! My nephew back in the City told me about it when I mentioned that I could unlock my cell as the store I had wanted to take it to be unlocked was closed.... that as I had a ATT SIM inside, they would give me a "unlock" code functional only with an international SIM inside. In my case it was complicated as I was using my cell from Oregon with a grandfathered San Franciscan SIM inside... but both were ATT and eventually, was told the unlock code which worked this morning!!!

One of the first things I did was to buy my bus ticket for Friday to get to Rota, and now scouting around, seeing the sights in beautiful historic Sevilla, then back "home" to wait for tomorrow, when I return to Sevilla again but then stay downtown to meet my friends and get my bags to finish this final portion of a very long and tiring journey.

I'll be "home" in my apartment at about 7pm, then to figure out HOW to ferry two big heavy suitcases from the bus station to my apt, just three blocks away, still carrying my camera and other small but too heavy bag also.a store display included hidden fans which blew the skirts up, a la Marilyn-style... how "creative"! Another cell picture!!