So it's a bit belated, but for those who haven't gotten a phone call from me, you get this instead. Yes, I have made it to Spain alive (and calling the US is expensive, dagnabbit). DrupalCon starts on Wednesday, so in the mean time I am doing my best to uplhold the image of the stupid American tourist.
I will spare you the daily blow by blow, as this isn't that sort of blog, but I will make a few comments on the wonders of international travel...
I still don't know what the deal is wit American security. Supposedly it's nice and tight now, or at least that's the image that the government is trying to present. Despite that, I was through both baggage check-in and security in about 20 minutes. It was no different from a domestic flight, and apparently international flights don't even have a separate terminal anymore. It took longer to walk from security to my airplane than it did to get through security. And this makes me feel safer, right?
The flight was fine, and the 777 is a nice aircraft. American Airlines even offered a hot meal for dinner that was surpisingly good. Despite a slightly delayed take-off we got to London Heathrow a few minutes early.
Let me briefly sum up Heathrow airport. Heathrow consists of about 100 km of identical corridor, arranged into four convenient terminals to get lost in. Each terminal also has a complete shopping mall, including all the usual airport stores as well as an electronics store where one can purchase duty-free laptops. There must be a business case for that, but I have no idea what it is. Oh, and on rare occasions you'll find an airplane.
I am willing to give Heathrow thumbs-up as a civilized place, however, because they had a quite nice seafood bar tucked in between the luggage store and the store selling computer games. The Scottish smoked salmon was tasty, even though it was raw. Must be an English thing.
A quick bi-lingual flight down to Barcelona on Iberia Airlines later, I finally arrived in Spain. Here I finally felt that I was leaving the USA, as I was asked to fill out a small paper form of my travel plans that they didn't check the validity of. Barcelona Airport doesn't have anything particularly remarkable to say about it, aside from having an inexplicable Trojan Horse in the lobby. It probably makes sense to someone.
The taxi ride to the hotel was also smooth, and quite familiar. Not only did he have the exact same GPS unit as American taxis are now sporting, the driver only spoke Spanish. It felt just like Chicago.
At the hotel I met up with my roommate for the week, Wim Leers of Belgium. After getting settled we went to locate dinner. Although we toyed briefly with the idea of a nearby Chinese restaurant, we decided something more topical was appropriate so took the tram until we spotted something that looked edible. I decided to be adventurous and get brazed rabbit. Predictably, it tasted like chicken. It didn't look like it, though. It still looked like a rabbit, complete with its left legs. Fortuntely there was no head, but prying meat off of the spine was difficult at times.
I also realized I made one key error. I had taken great care to ensure all of my electronics had European-capable power adapters, and I had a plug adapter and power strip. What I did not think to ensure was that the power strip itself could handle European voltage! I discovered my error when I managed to knock out power to the whole hotel room. Fortunately it had breakers so we just had to get the front desk to reset them, but word to the wise when traveling: Check the power strip, too. *sigh*
And so ends the journey to Spain. Watch this space for properly geeky reports from DrupalCon (if I have the energy for it) as soon as they start happening.