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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Trip Home.....minus our luggage

The Trip Home.......minus our luggage
MA & the Invisible Man

Our journey home started at 6AM Saturday morning, Barcelona time.  That's 11PM Friday night here in Texas.  We gathered our bags, got them downstairs, had a quick breakfast and caught the 7:45AM hotel shuttle to the airport.  We were booked on Continental scheduled to depart at 10:45.  The lines at the airport were long as we waited to check our two bags and pass through security.  Something to note, you don't have to remove your shoes in Europe when going through the security checks.  We had time to grab some coffee upstairs before boarding. 

The Continental flight from Barcelona to Newark was on a Boeing 757, our least favorite of Continental's fleet. We paid extra for the bulkhead row because the seats in this airplane are so close and passengers are so crowded that any extra room is a luxury. 

As the doors closed and we settled in, the pilot announced that we had missed our takeoff slot and that we would be put back into the lottery for takeoff assignments.  Our new takeoff time was now 12:05 PM and we would be sitting on the airplane at the gate for at least an hour.  Immediately we realized we would miss our connection from Newark to Houston.

The flight across Spain and the Atlantic was uneventful.  To kill the time I watched some classic movies:  Dr. Strangelove and Casablanca.  We arrived in Newark and got through passport control.  Our bags were the last to be taken off the plane and we gathered them and went through customs and right back to Continental check-in to see what the next available the flight to Houston would be.  It was to leave in 45 minutes and we hustled back through security and were the last to board, this time on a Boeing 777, a beautiful airplane with leg room too.

We had MA's cell phone but the battery was out of juice and we couldn't call Susan about our flight changes.  A Continental Captain noticed our plight and was kind enough to loan us his. 

Finally, we got off the plane in IAH, 20 hours after that quick breakfast in Barcelona (!) and got down to Baggage Claim.  After waiting until all the bags had dropped down on the conveyor belt it became painfully obvious our bags did not make the flight.  I filed a claim with Continental, who promised prompt delivery.

We were very happy to see Susan and Jacob.  Jacob had great news about the St. Mark soccer team.  They are undefeated and won a tournament while we were gone.  Both of us thought Jacob grew at least an inch during the time we were gone.

We got home, dropped our carry-on bags on the floor and called it a night.  I vaguely heard the phone ring around 1:30 in the morning and it was a Fedex delivery with our bags.  I went out to the gate and let him in.  I think I was asleep when all this happened because both bags were in the garage when I got up this morning.

MA and I went to church this morning to worship our Lord and give thanks for His protection and safe travel.  It was especially good to see Dr. Young back in the pulpit after months of recovery from open heart surgery.  His new series is on 1st John, a small book in the New Testament with a powerful message.  It answers the question, "What is God like?"  We gave HIM thanks for all that He has done for us.

We ran into MA's Bible study co-teacher, Paul Bice.  MA asked for her "job back"!  He seemed glad to see us both!

As I look back on our travels surely we have seen some remarkable historical sights and some of the great beauty of this world. But most of all we met some wonderful folks along the way.  Truly God has made a beautiful world for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Houston! The Wendels are glad to be home!

MA & WW in Eze over looking Monaco

Friday, October 1, 2010

Last Day in Barcelona....going home tomorrow

Friday....last day in Barcelona

We had one more day in Barcelona and decide to make the most of it going back downtown to see the Gaudi museum.  We caught the 165 bus to Plaza Espanya, the L-1 subway to Catalunya and the northbound L-3 subway to the museum.  My little compass comes in handy to tell what direction is what when your're in a strange place.  We found the museum, bought tickets and went through thiis wonderfully creative architectural creation.  This guy is revered in Spain and especally Barcelona.  You can see his creative genius and imagination in the photos we'll post later..

After the museum we found an empty sidewalk bench and had lunch, ham and cheese sandwiches MA made that were left over from our breakfast buffet.  We then decided to go back to the La Rambla and watch some more "human statues" come to life.  We stopped for a cold drink and went to pay only to find out it was "cash only" and we had no Euros.  Finally convinced the waiter to take dollars. Don't take your ATM card to Europe, doesn't work here that we can tell. Late in the afternoon we reversed our trip; L-1 to Catalunya and 165 bus to the hotel.  We're starting to feel like natives!

This has been a magnificent and memorable trip for us but there's nothing like home, family and dear friends and we look forward to all after our arrive Saturday evening. We want to thank Paul Bice for stepping up to the plate one more time and teaching our Bible Study class for MA.   And thanks for reading the travel blog.  We have a lot of fun doing it but think we'll stay home for a while, except for a long weekend in Chicago late this month to catch up with Jim and Sue and the grandkids.

Later!  WW

Barcelona subway

Stuck in Barcelona Day 2

Stuck in Barcelona: Day 2

MA and I decided to make the most of our delay in Barcelona so we started checking out ways to get to the central part of the city from the Airport Marriott. The hotel has a shuttle that would take us part of the way, but we had missed the morning run. A very helpful concierge here carefully showed us how to get the local bus to the Pla├ža Espanya and then transfer onto the L-1 subway to the Plaza de Catalunya, the central hub for everything we wanted to do.

So we started our day on the #165 bus made by Mercedes-Benz. It made various stops before getting on the “freeway” to downtown and after 30 minutes we arrived to the transfer point for the Metro station and the L-1 subway. We found a T-10 ticket dispenser (ten rides) and purchased a ticket with enabled both of us to ride for 5 times, bus or subway. Following the signs, we found the L-1 and hopped on. Ten minutes later we arrived at Catalunya and rode the escalator up to street level. This huge plaza is the heart of Barcelona with major streets extending outward from it.

We decided to revisit the fascinating La Rambla, a huge pedestrian street about a mile in length leading to the waterfront. It is lined with cafes, newsstands, artists, flower shops, and performing artists. We had a ball watching the human statues come to life when someone drops a coin in their bucket and the reactions of the people watching them perform. I got some really great photos of these strange performers and I will share them with you at a later date.