Monday, July 18, 2011

News from the trip

This is a great way for me to share pictures from my trip for relatives who care. I don't claim this will be interesting for anyone, but it is good for me to journal again about our trip. If you want to see the pictures larger, merely click on them.

We left the fourth of July, hubby driving the four of us to the airport shuttle. I had packed and repacked our suitcase, and packed very thorough carry-ons for all four of us. Each child was to be responsible for his or her own backpack at all times. Each contained small games, a water bottle, a journal, a pen, and an art set. Someone's contained a bunch of pokemon stuff as well. I shan't say whose, but I will let it leak that it wasn't me.

At the airport, our flight was late in getting in, then delayed a bit longer. Finally, after we were all seated, the flight attendants couldn't get the door to close properly. I guess this is a "thing," 'cause we wheeled back to the gate and had a airplane service personnel called and bam! they fixed it right away. Meanwhile, our 1 1/2 hour lay-over in Madrid looked dwindled away.

Sure enough, we landed about the time of take-off. Or, when take-off was supposed to be. Turns out, after many, many, many lines and enquiries, that the Venice baggage handlers were experiencing a bit of a sciopero, or strike. We had tickets reissused for the evening, after 7. What to do? What to do with three jet-lagged kiddos in a foreign country with heavy backpacks?

Hit downtown, of course! First, we visited information about three or four times. Then, we sought out the Iberian flight desk and obtained a food voucher. Next we wandered up and down floors trying to find the salida from flight departures. More tricky than it sounds in Madrid airport. Next was finding the money exchange. Then, the luggage storage area, complete with a very helpful 7 foot tall Manuel who was the only one there with English skills. Finally, we found the metro level and took one metro 7 stops, and a commuter train, several more, and out we popped to SOL, city center. Hooray!

Sol is where all East and West street numbers originate, and where many of the protests set up shop. We looked around the plaza a few minutes, then headed to a restaurant where I staggered under the prices and proceeded to order one of the grosser meals in my life, especially for that price.

8 oz. Cokes cost about 5 bucks. Those, my children deeply appreciated. The cream of cantaloupe soup, not so deeply, and the cold shots of split pea soup, not at all. After the meal, we wandered out again and went West. First, we saw the statue of the bear eating at the tree. We saw this symbol many times, but this is the famous statue. Next, I tried for the City Hall, but, unfortunately, I was turned around. We did see some fantastic architecture, the financial district, a fine art museum, and a couple parks. The two littler ones ran and played in the park inside the boulevard of the Paseo del Prado. After that, I spotted a double decker tourist bus in the Plaza de Neptuno. Having ascertained that the tour would be an hour, we hopped on and enjoyed the hot sun on the upper deck as we drove up the Paseo de la Castellana all the way to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, or the soccer stadium. Then, we went East a short bit and then turned back South on the Calle de Serrano to where we began.

Worried we were cutting it short, we hopped off a stop early, and high tailed it through the metros again. Children were flagging, and what is worse, mommy was flagging, too. Back at the airport, we continued our multi-faceted conversations with Iberian Air, finally coming to the conclusion that flights would be allowed into Venice after midnight only. Accordingly, our flight would take off at 9:50pm, getting us in at 12:10am. Many fellow travellers were ticked off, because they were supposed to board a cruise ship that morning at the port of Venice. It was difficult enough getting ahold of our friends, the Wells, who were picking us up.

They were very understanding, having lived in the culture of 7 years. After getting our baggage and struggling through those glass doors (and questioning myself why I was doing this)...

We had arrived!

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