Monday, November 15, 2004

Barcelona, Spain—Madrid, Spain—Miami, Florida—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—Day 289

After almost twenty four hours of traveling—taxis to planes, to more planes to taxis—I made it to Philadelphia. For the most part, my time spent traveling across the two continents was pleasant. I had a nice flight from Barcelona to Madrid (albeit a little too early in the morning for my liking) and then fly from Madrid to Miami.

I had quite the ordeal going through customs in Madrid—not when I checked my bags in Barcelona, but boarding the flight to Madrid. I arrived to the airport and had a few hours to kill before the flight to Miami would leave. So I wandered around the airport (my third time this year!) and attempted to go into the Iberian Airlines frequent traveler club, only to be refused. The woman told me, “sorry, we don’t accept gold members, only platinum.” Its funny because after all of this traveling (and after all of the frequent flier miles I’ve accumulated) its become sort of my secret goal (one I only think about when I occasionally check my airline points online) is to become a platinum member. After these flights today I just over 1,000 miles short of making it.

Feeling rejected (but determined to come back someday and use the lounge—I’ll show them!) I killed my time reading magazines before my flight began to board. This is when I was pulled aside and made to wait for quite some time until I was thoroughly interrogated as to where I was going and where I came from.

People that work at airlines don’t like those passengers who live in one place but fly from another. The girl asked me, “so, where do you live?” I said “Arizona” So she says, “where did you fly to Europe from” and I said “Toledo, Ohio.” While this was true, she didn’t appreciate it and got more suspicious. Luckily I had my rail pass with me (after she asked me how I traveled all around Europe) so I was able to show her proof of my adventures (I didn’t mention the hippos…I don’t think that would have helped me in this case).

Satisfied, she sent me on my way to the plane and ten hours, two movies, five failed attempts to use my laptop on the plane and two meals later, I was in Miami where I would remain for the next 5 hours until my flight to Philadelphia. The guy sitting next to me and I had quite the time trying to get my laptop adapter to work. He was really nice and offered for me to use his (“if it breaks, it’s the company’s problem not mine!”) but we found that even using his mine wasn’t working. It’s a mystery really why it didn’t work—something that I will leave up to my computer savvy brother to explain to me later.

First thing I did upon my arrival in Miami (after getting lost on my way to the correct terminal after customs—the customs guy was really nice—he told me after looking at my customs form, “I don’t even want to KNOW where you’ve been!” which was like the best thing he could have possibly said) was finding a calling card to call my family and loved ones abroad. This turned into a two hour fiasco of broken pay phones and money-stealing calling cards. However, when things finally worked I was able to let everyone know that I had made it safely back to the States.

I then found my gate (at first I was so early to the airport that I didn’t even have a gate!) and plugged in my laptop to charge the battery (which had since died on the flight from Madrid). I then boarded my late night flight to Philly (late night for me—it was like 2 a.m. Spain time!) and I faded in and out of consciousness the whole flight back only woken up with the girls around me passed Doritos and Oreos back and forth. Since I was on the isle, and they were all sitting around me, I often had to wake up to pass their goodies to and fro. They did offer me some but the idea of Doritos wasn’t sounding too good just then.

I landed in Philadelphia and got a thirty dollar cab right to my hotel. Thirty dollars! I thought he would ask for my arm AND my leg as a tip!

Welcome to the United States…