Friday, June 5, 2015

The Long Trip Home

Wednesday, 3 June, 2015:

Flying home on Iberia

So, finally, the adventure of our sixth season coaching American football in Europe came to a close today.

After the bullfights last night we spent some more time repacking and redistributing the weight of each of our three pieces of luggage that would need to go in the cargo hold of our two flights home. The goal was to guesstimate that each piece was at or below the allowed 23 kilos per bag.

We would strive to arrive early enough at the airport to have time to weigh them ourselves before the check-in. If our guesses were off then we would have either repack yet again or, shades of the Great Trapani Airport Disaster of 2009,  jettison clothing for any passersby who wanted them.

As it turned out, neither of us could sleep due to the excitement of the flights home. Thus at about 4:45 a.m. we were both out of bed and getting ready for the day at hand.

Our taxi cab driver arrived at 6:10 a.m. to whisk us off the Madrid's Barajas Airport which in normal traffic would be about a 25 minutes.

Not this morning.

In the traffic free streets at this early hour, our driver channeled his inner Mario Andretti and attacked the road at breakneck speeds. He had us at Laurie's Terminal 2 in about ten minutes.

It was exciting.

First things first, we weighed our bags and voilà, all three bags were below 23 kilos.

We did good!!!

There was no one in line at the open Air France counter, so check-in was fast, but with a twist.

Laurie's plane to Paris did not leave for about two hours but another flight to the French capital left in about 15 minutes. The lady at check-in said that Laurie and her luggage could still get on it, which would give her more time to make her connecting flight out of Paris to Los Angeles, so off she went.

Once on her way, I had to board the Shuttle bus to Terminal 4 where all International flights destined for non-European Union countries depart. This ten minute bus ride was nowhere near as exhilarating as the taxi ride.

Unlike Laurie's experience at the Air France check-in counter, mine with Iberia was long and tedious. It took me almost two hours to get through Iberia's long check-in lines and even more crowded Security Check lines.

Once through check-in and Security it would be clear sailing right?


A sign announced that the time needed to go from Security to the U gates where my flight was leaving was another 23 minutes. The sign was pretty much dead on correct as to the time needed to cover the distance.

The good thing about all of this was that because of Laurie's early flight, I had lots of time to kill so was in no rush.

My flight left on time and, I must admit, the Iberian flight was much better than my previous experiences on this airline. My seat was wider than usual and I had lots of knee room! Additionally, I had my desired aisle seat with no one seated next to me. Throw in an excellent entertainment center allowing me to watch two fun movies (Kingsmen, The Secret Service and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and all of Season Three of the BBC's latest take on their Sherlock Holmes series.

The smooth 12 and a half hour flight arrived about 20 minutes earlier than expected at LAX which gave me lots of time to get both my bag and Laurie's two bags before she got through Customs. Her flight from Paris had arrived about twenty minutes after mine. Amid the thousands of people who traveled through the Bradley International Terminal that day, we spotted each other across the terminal and headed for the final check point and the exit. It was like a movie.

Koreen FitzGerald picked us up and we were headed to Camarillo through rush hour traffic, a little more than an hour away.

To sum up our day, we had breakfast in Madrid, Laurie ate lunch in Paris and we were joined by the Brian and Koreen FitzGerald for dinner at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo.

Life is good.

Someone asked if we brought home any souvenirs.

Why yes . . .

. . . yes we did . . .

. . . INDEED!!!

Part of Laurie's shoe and
shawl collection

Laurie's attempt to corner
the Spanish fan market

We were tired but safely at home.

Life is really good on both sides of the Atlantic as it turns out.

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