Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back on the Spanish Ranch

So yeah, traveling around to European capitals is fun and all, but there's really nothing like coming home. Especially when home is Barcelona. And ESPECIALLY when you have a really cute French guy waiting for you upon arrival... with a "veggie explosion" in the fridge.

And of course no trip of mine would be complete without some travel issues, namely:

1. After a very easy (too easy) train ride on the EuroStar from Paris to London, all I had to do was jump on the Victoria line at King's Cross station and get off at Pimlico, where my friend Lisa lives. But upon arrival, after waiting in a tube ticket line for a while, the announcement on the loudspeaker went, "Please be advised that trains are not running on the Victoria Line between King's Cross and Victoria due to a person under the train."

I'm not kidding. Apparently this is part of a "transparency initiative" to keep people fully abreast of such situations so they don't freak out over terrorism or something similar. As I approached the entrance, I asked a transit worker if there might be an alternate route. She was standing next to a whiteboard that repeated, in cute curvy writing, that a person was under a train on the Victoria line, and she told me to take the Circle line and switch at Victoria. Great!

I waited for the Circle line for about 30 minutes, only to finally go back to my starting point and learn that, "oh, the Circle line is experiencing severe delays. You can go to some other place I can't remember and then get a bus...." I left and took a taxi, 4 pounds poorer.

But hey, I got to have dinner with Marco! And that made it all okay.

2. In other news... I fell asleep on my flight back to Barcelona this evening after a long, tiring day of meetings and presentations. I woke up as the flight attendant said in Spanish (and repeated in English) that we'd be landing soon in Madrid. MADRID??? I thought for a few minutes that I'd missed an important announcement or gotten on the wrong plane somehow two hours earlier. No. She was just confused. Whew!

3. When we landed at Barcelona, we had to go through security after getting off the plane and before going through immigration. WHO GOES THROUGH SECURITY TO GET OUT OF THE AIRPORT???? It was truly bizarre and also quite useless, as every single person who walked through the metal detector and beeped (myself included) was just waved through. Very secure!

4. One last point.... does anyone else find the music that they force you to listen to on airplanes really annoying? This is a phenomenon I only noticed a few years ago. While you're waiting to take off, they pipe in music over the plane's loudspeakers, which are usually such poor quality that the "music" just comes out sounding like grating twinkly noises. The worst was when "Beautiful" by James Blunt was one of the featured songs on loop all the time... ugh! They don't turn off the music until the captain gives the all-clear to the flight attendants about 15 minutes after takeoff. And you're literally forced to listen to it, because that is the exact period of time you're not allowed to drown it out with your ipod. Does anyone else not see the point of this added in-flight irritation? Just curious.


Xavi said...

And people complain about the French public transport !?!?! Well, I guess that you will be trained for you arrival in Paris ! Oh no... you still need to get used to French strikes and everyone trying to get a velib to cross the city, or trying to find a friendly taxi driver to get you to your final destination... Well, maybe I should take out the word friendly ! Anyway, with Frenchy next to you, you will survive all these situations !

NoellieBellie said...

Geez, just as I was thinking everything would turn out alright in Paris... :)

Tanya said...

I think they use the music to calm the passengers...sounds like they're not exactly getting the results they're looking for :-)

Living in Paris tip of the day: I would totally recommend getting a bike. I wish I had done that. I used the Velib and stuff and luckily didn't experience any metro strikes, but it would have been great to have my own ride with a basket for going to market or just getting around. Plus, biking down the Champs-Elysees is just plain fun!

NoellieBellie said...

Thanks Tanya! I'm planning to bring my crappy Decathlon bike from Barcelona so I don't care if it gets stolen. (I rode a bike the entire time I lived in Manhattan, rain or shine, to avoid subways as much as possible.)

And I also learned I can drive my 50cc scooter there without problems! Woo hoo! Then again "without problems" is always relative.... :)

Anonymous said...

Definitely hate the music they put while taking off / landing. By the way, can anyone explain me why iPod is forbidden during those moments ? I do not see any security reason.

I love the way they are so open about the (several) problems they face in London transports. At least you know why you are waiting (even for 30 sec.).