Feb 042011

Day 1/2 (February 2/3)
“Today” has been quite a long day for me. I started out in Houston and now I finally made it to Spain.

On the way to Marseille to meet Mark, my plane stopped in Amsterdam. Actually, it arrived about an hour early. The flight was uneventful. I was impressed with my first KLM flight. They minimized the announcements so we could sleep, gave us great food, handed us a warm towel to clean up before breakfast, and the best part was finding free wifi at the Amsterdam airport. Next time I fly to Marseille, I might just take KLM again instead of Air France. I’ve had enough of the Paris airport anyway. =)

Arriving in the Amsterdam airport was almost like how I picture entering the Mall of Americas would be. There were oodles of shops, great signage, fun areas to hang out, and a whole play forest for the kids. I didn’t check out the mini museum, but I did stop in a few stores on my way to my next terminal. I watched the sun rise which did wonders to my inner time schedule. It certainly felt like morning rather than late at night.

The flight from to Marseille was mostly uneventful. I can’t say much about it since I was sleeping the entire time, but I did catch snippets from the pilot letting us know we’d be delayed due to various technical difficulties. I think we finally took off about 30 minutes late, however, the pilot also informed us that he was going to contact the military so we could fly through their restricted air space and make up the time. The pilot was probably just trying to impress us. Maybe his boss was on the plane and he wanted a raise. In any case, whatever he did worked because we arrived right on time.

Soon after, Mark and I found each other and all was good. Finally, our vacation can start. The rest of the day was a typical travel day in Europe. We stowed Mark’s care package/action packer/birthday gifts at the Marseille hotel we are coming back to and headed to the train station. There are 2 connections to get to Barcelona from Marseille, but we were up for it. In the meantime we enjoyed the beautiful day outside. At about 60 degrees and sunny, the weather was infinitely better than the frozen Houston I just left. Per a recommendation from Mark’s coworkers, we tried a CBO at McDonalds. That’s chicken/bacon/onion for all you Americans. There were even bacon bits on the top of the bun instead of sesame seeds. It was indeed tasty and not the typical McD hamburger options.

We almost had a hiccup while on the train. Our 2nd of 3 trains was running late and we never thought we’d make the 15 minute connection. We worried for about 20 minutes while we waited for the station to appear in the window and avoided discussing what we would do if we got stuck in Figueres. The conductor definitely did update us on the announcement system, but we couldn’t understand what was going to happen. Well, apparently many people were making that connection and when we arrived at the station 5 minutes after our train to Barcelona should have left, low and behold, there was the train waiting for us. =) What a relief. I don’t know if I could have canceled one more thing about this trip.

We are staying the night in Barcelona at the hotel on top of the train station. I thought that was pretty convenient when I booked it. Tomorrow we fly to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I’m ready to relax.

Our hotel, dubbed The Hotel in the Sky was almost like moving into a submarine or a space station room. They went to great extremes to decorate the hotel so it was very modern and space age. The hallways were completely dark with only stripes of blue light every 8 feet. Outside the elevator were circular pod-like chairs that immediately reminded me of CERN in Switzerland. The room was stark white with modern furniture and lighting. The bathroom consisted of 3 stark white pods, one for the toilet, the shower, and then an area for the sink. The bed was amazingly comfortable and we slept so well.

If and when we come back from Barcelona, we will definitely consider staying here again.

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