Friday, February 6, 2009

unfriendly skies of IBERiA

The aircraft shown below belongs to the spanish airline company Iberia. This airline is KNOWN to be the subject of strikes usually scheduled during the busiest times of tourist travel during the summer. Already into 2009, the Iberia pilots struck again in January of this year and for a day disrupted travel plans of many travelers .... This is how this company's pilots strike to get the attention of their country and of their company in order to demand more money for their individual salaries, no matter what the cost. I remember in 2006 how the Iberia airport workers had their strike, and simply walked onto the runway of the Barcelona runways and basically closed down the airport operations. They did not care then nor now how all of the canceled flights affected thousands of travelers and to have their lives disrupted, the amount of money lost when your flights are missed, hotels costs, etc.... all they care is to cause enough chaos so that they can get a higher salary. This is all supported by the spanish government who refuses to charge any of those who participated in that 2006 strike (huelga) and to not declare any such strike illegal only encourages more future strikes as those strike participants now know they will never be punished.

This is irresponsible behavior by the goverment, by the pilots, and by Iberia, and as I was just in Spain recently, noticed the new Iberia television commericals now advertising new LOW - very low fares throughout Europe and even to the USA. Of course, this is all a ploy to get new and old clients to fly their airlines but would you fly such a reckless and irresponsible airline that wrecks havoc on your and other travelers' lives, at any cost?

I hope everyone will boycott this stupid company and I hope they go out of business - SOON! All you need to do is to experience the airport experience during any one of their strikes, to lose your ticket value, to miss your future flight connections, to have days and days sleeping on uncomfortable airport floors and/or those very uncomfortable spanish airport benches.... and in addition to have your baggage lost for months as in the big strike of 2006, and you wil feel as I do!

at any cost!!! Do not use IBERIA for any of your flights anywhere on this planet! Tell your friends to boycott Iberia also, a company that allows these pilots to do this which encourages such irresponsible behavior by trained "professional" airline pilots... greedy individuals who think only of themselves and nobody else.

Also while I was in Spain, I read just days before I departed that tourism through spanish airports dropped to an all-time low.... don't they realize that as long as they encourage this type of behavior and those airline strikes, that tourists previously thinking of a trip to Spain will abandon that dream and go elsewhere? They seem to not think these strikes affect anyone.... one doesn't have to be an university graduate nor a rocket-scientist to realize this....

I think the spanish tourism board and the government as a whole is going to wake up to a very rude awakening in the tourism trade very soon, if these strikes continue and nobody is charged with disruption of traveler's travels and monetary losses.

Let them travel during a strike and lose all of their hard-earned money and waste their vacations sleeping on floors of a flithy spanish airport, and see how THEY like it.... they would feel as these poor innocent travelers would, but they don't and like any country's officials... they have lost sight of how it feels to be a normal common citizen at the pity of those strikes.

back in the City from Spain

... and what a heck of a looong flight it was ~ slept very little on the journey which for me started in Rota early Wednesday morning by cleaning up everything a final time. I love seeing my apartment so clean and "empty" and I will return one day though not soon enough. Arriving at the Sevilla airport just before 8am, I had enough time to check in and relax, if that is possible in an airport that is filthy, dirty and so old the bench leather coverings are crusted and wrinkled, and the gate waiting areas have floor spill drops so old and so visible, I would be embarrassed to say I worked there. I thought about a complaint but know it would get the standardized form-letter complaint reply and nothing would be done. I've suggested and complained on previous occasions about poor service, airport workers allowing people to smoke within the airport and not saying anything, etc., but the spanish are accustomed to their lifestyle, and complaints or suggestions do not last long in the system.

Aboard the Sevilla to Barcelona flight, I was distressed after we took off and I didn't have my camera out and at the ready; the raindrops as it again poured as we took off were so beautiful upon the tiny cabin windows that I wished I could have recorded its slow movement across my window.... by time I did get out the camera, the raindrops were gone being high above the clouds and in Barcelona it wasn't even raining any longer. There my next segment was delayed due to heavy fog at Munich, which was a change from the usual Frankfurt. I dreaded returning to Germany as a passenger due to their double security checkpoints but was later pleasantly surprised when after finally arriving and moving fast to the next gate - which of course seemed to be miles and miles away - I didn't have to pass through any security checkpoints at all! Even as we were still taxiing to the Munich terminal, the PA system in the aircraft warned all travelers to hurry to their connecting flights as the airport security can be very slow and time-consuming.

Seen in the men's restrooms in the
Munich airport, a great airport when compared with the old and filthy Sevilla airport. Seems that the urinal designers thought ahead in an attempt to inprove the aim of those using these facilities. I've seen this before but was never able to get a picture and this time I was prepared! A few others saw me snapping pictures of the urinals and thought I was crazy till I pointed out to them it wasn't the urinal but the fly I was interested in... then the response was laughter.... and in an airport, who can't use a bit of laughter?

As soon as I arrived at the gate, I was boarded and after four others behind me followed, the cabin doors were closed and we took off inside a recently-delivered new A340-600 plane that was beautiful to relax and enjoy this 11-hour flight back to San Francisco!! Not only first- and business-class areas look nice but even the economy class area was a delight! Each and every seat in the aircraft had its own LED touch-screen media center that allowed passengers to view music videos, see a wide selection of movies, listen to over 10 styles of radio-system music, or even learn about the airline company! As a result, I watched a total of four on-demand movies throughout the long-journey, interrupted frequently by my getting the camera to snap away at the gorgeous sunset that lasted half of the long-haul flight and amazingly enough turned even more flaming red just as I thought the sunset would finally end after four hours! It turned out it was to end but as the flight route took us from Germany to the Americas on a northwestern curve taking us over the Norwegian Sea, Iceland, Greenland, then just north of Hudson Bay then toward Vancouver Island, BC..... it seems when the plane finally took its downward curve just as I saw the sunset colors fading; remembering in San Francisco a month ago, the bearing angle of the sunset then was about 240-degrees, so when we turned southwesternly, according to the visual map of our route, we turned toward the sun and that accounted for it glowing once again to finally end later after six hours!!!
Amazingly enough, the last two hours were the most colorful as the horizon burned with an intense flaming-red color. I believe this is the very first time I have seen such a sunset lasting more than three-hours, plus no sunrise! In fact, I saw two sunsets on this flight!!

The movies I saw were Eagle Eye which I've wanted to see but hate SF theaters, Ghost Town which I thought was stupid but cried during the last 15mins of the movie, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Nights In Rodanthe - an excellent movie which I am glad I watched after seeing it starred Richard Gere and Diane Lane. I also cried during the last 10mins of Nights In Rodanthe for the sad ending though it ended on a happier note....

It seems strange to be back in the City, and in a place where I have a car as I had to walk during my month in Spain which I don't mind at all if I were wearing the proper shoes for that type of activity. Even with the high amount of walking, unfortunately I gained weight instead of losing ~ I blame all that great olive oil in the spanish food eaten out in town, and cooking at home ~ the first time ever I've gained instead of lost weight in my trips to Spain. Perhaps all I really need to do is stop eating enough for four or five persons at a sitting!! hahahahaaaa


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

gas prices in Spain and more

....while in the passenger seat of a friend's car - unusual place for me to be - we stopped to buy gas and I decided to snap a pix of the gas prices in this part of Andalucia. While this might even look cheap after the exchange rate is considered, remember this is the price per liter! when I lived in Spain, the prices were much different and I was paying up to 60€ per liter to fill my tank. Also remember that here the diesel (gasoleo A) is cheaper than unleaded and what everyone is buying these days. My old car while i lived here was also a diesel..... but it had great tubro power and I really loved passing sedans up steep hills/mountains even when my car was loaded down with heavy furniture in the back!!
I joked with friends upon my arrival in Spain about how green everything looked. Again on the bus I noticed how unnatural Andalucia appeared in such vivid colors ~ I told my spanish friends that while on the bus it looked so unreal that I thought I had hopped on the wrong bus and was headed north to Galicia instead of Andalucia. Galicia - in the NW region of Spain - is similar to our northwest in that it rains.... and rains, and rains even more. As a result, everything there is very green!!

The pictures above are both taken with my cell camera - I've just posted my last pictures if you care to see them.

I'm back on the road again as I start my travels to return to San Francisco. I can't believe how quickly this month lasted, or didn't last. It all went by so quickly!! The last three days were spent cleaning, packing and re-boxing stuff, almost all at the same time, and the apartment was so clean as I left this morning. Though it rained throughout my stay, I enjoy the rain and the cool pleasure it brings to me. I love seeing storm clouds over the Bay of Cadiz also, and there were certainly a lot of those. Tomorrow morning I get my final ride to the Sevilla airport and start those flights back to the states......

Monday, February 2, 2009

last night's storms

Last night it actually hailed in Rota... it was already past the sunset - there was no color at all - and the hail struck my balcony windows with such a force I actually thought someone was throwing pebbles against the glass. Accompanied by thunder and lightning, it made me wish I had brought my tripod but of course where would I set up to shoot? hahahahaa
the day after the storms, gorgeous clouds (cell cam pix)

More cleaning and packing, moving things from one box that was packed more than two and a half years ago, into other boxes to make more space. Finding things I haven't seen since... well, since I initially left Rota over two years ago.

One thing you should remember if you own property in this part of Spain and are using an agency to rent out your place: I've discovered one cannot trust the lousy Rota real estate agency I used when I left - these people don't even need to be licensed here - were the only ones who had keys to my place, along with a friend. When I told him I was returning for three weeks in January of 2008, he mentioned he would setup my bed as it was dismantled. I said sure and thanks so much!! A few weeks later he asked if I had allowed someone to come into my apartment. I didn't and told him that; it appears someone was in my apartment and used the bed! Once I got to Rota, I could see what my friend had seen and I thought the same thing: the real estate agency as they were the only others with a key. Though I complained and demanded an explanation, they didn't claim any responsibility for it. I've mentioned this to many spanish and american friends living in Spain and am told this happens quite often. Some worker in that agency knows that the owner is gone, the place is empty and just takes the keys and uses it at their convenience to have a party of two or of ten, and leave a mess. At least I didn't have a lot they could do in my apartment, as I had hardly anything but lots of boxes, but I have heard some horror stories in Sevilla and other places. So, be very careful and always have friends with an extra key to call and ask to have them check your place.

I cannot believe it's only three more days I have three remaining days in Spain and by the end of this new week I'll be back in the big City. YUCK! Now to figure out how to get my stuff to Rota!!!