Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I Can Now Go Home With No Hassle (Let's Hope I Don't Jinx Myself)

I'm leaving Barcelona on Friday. I have a 3:30 flight out of Girona-Barcelona airport to London-Stansted Airport, upon which I'll be spending the night in London, before flying back to the States the next day. However, for a little bit, I wasn't sure if I was even going to get out of Spain. Spanish baggage handlers were threatening a strike during the upcoming May Day weekend holiday, choosing April 29 and May 4 as their strike days. The 29th is the day I fly out of Girona. Until now.

From Ryan Air's website:

Ryanair was advised today 27th April that the proposed strike action by Spanish Baggage Handlers for Friday 29th April & Wednesday 4th May 2005 has been cancelled. Normal flight operations will apply and check-in baggage will be accepted in accordance with Ryanair's terms and conditions. Ryanair apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers by this threatened strike action which is now cancelled.

Thank God. Otherwise, if the strike was going to carry on, I would have been screwed. I have a huge suitcase, a huge duffel bag, a smaller travel bag and a book bag - the latter two I'd carry on. There was no way they would let me carry on my two big bags, and I don't know how I would have gotten my bags to London in time for my Saturday afternoon flight home out of Heathrow.

Anyway, I could not believe, that of all the days the unions here chose to strike, they had to pick the day I was leaving. I somehow have the best luck flying to and from Europe. I say this because coming to Barcelona via Paris in January, I missed my flight from Newark to Paris because my flight out of Pittsburgh was delayed a half hour. Fortunately, the folks at Air France at Newark were able to put me on stand-by on the next flight to Paris -- only problem was that the flight was out of Kennedy airport! They advised me to get in a cab ASAP and high-tail it to JFK. They said if my bags didn't come in off the Pittsburgh-Newark flight, forget about them (because they were tagged final destination Barcelona) and get over to JFK. Of course, my bags didn't show up.

So I get a taxi, tell the cabbie (a really nice guy from Egypt) my "situation," and he gets me to JFK in 45 minutes -- half the time in normally takes to get from Newark International to JFK. The bill came to (including tip) 120 freaking dollars. Drama already, and I hadn't even left the country! I checked in at JFK -- 10 minutes before the flight closed -- and, thankfully, I was bumped up from stand-by. Walking to my gate, I finally began to breath again. I was at least going to Europe. My two big bags, on the other hand, didn't make it to Barcelona until four days after I arrived. As you can imagine my first week basically sucked. But I made the most of it.

And so, here I am, four months later, ready to head back home. My Spanish has gotten a lot better - from where it was. I can read the paper and hold a basic conversation. I got to see a lot of Catalonia, London (again; and I'll be visiting again on Friday!), San Sebastian, Rome, and Mainz and Wiesbaden, Germany. Also during the course of my stay, I got an internship at the Claremont Institute in California (which is, I think, about an hour or so east of Los Angeles). I'll be working there from the beginning of June to the end of July. So I'll have May to re-adjust (i.e. catching up on Seinfeld re-runs, Brit Hume, ESPN, etc.) and all of August to get ready for my last semester at Penn State. And then, sometime early next year, I voluntarily become property of the United States government and the United States Army!

Lot of stuff going on right now. Pretty exciting time. Barcelona to California to PSU to the Army. The scary part is how fast it's all going by.


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