2005-12-24: Christmas Eve
24th December 2005 - Spain Day 0
We left for Spain after receiving a letter from the electricity company threatening to turn off the power in the next two days unless we paid up quick smart. Hopefully they only meant the Swindon place. The journey into Reading started as typical public transport. We waited with all our luggage at one stop, then decided the bus wasn't coming for ages (despite the presence of an old lady, normally a sure sign a bus is coming). On the way to the next bus stop the bus came, so I had to run along with the luggage to catch the bus. As we got off the bus at Reading my backpack strap broke, leaving a heavy bag sagging on one shoulder. We were going to get safety pins to fix it but realized that the airport wouldn't allow me to take a bag on with safety pins in it.
We took our bus to Heathrow and then joined the short queue. Thank you pre-booked tickets, an anomaly I found amusing till I saw the pre-Christmas line ups at Heathrow. There were what looked like entire tribes of Indians carrying the entire villages worth of luggage with them. Security was its normal inconvienience, Edtya and I went through all the normal disrobing for airport security and then she still got frisked in a random search. Edyta always seems to get targeted. Our flight from France was fine. The onward flight to Barcelona was good, they actually served a real meal. It must have been a Christmas treat. The plane seemed to be full of Asians, or the Spanish people look far more Asian than we had thought they did.
Our entry into Barcelona involved no customs. They don't even check your passport. It also involved no luggage. We waited till the conveyor built shut down and then looked about in dismay. We went over to the lost luggage desk to lodge the complaint. Luckily they spoke English but couldn't do much more than enter the complaint into the system. Edyta was jovial about the situation which was good. The luggage was likely to turn up the following day anyway (we were the last flight for the night), how hard can it be to lose something with bar codes and stuff all over it? Without luggage I figured at least it will be easy for us to get into town anyway. We followed the signs pointing to the train station, only to find the entrance was in the process of being dismantled. We then found a bus to the city, only to find that we had missed the last bus for the night. So we walked back to the arrival terminal and then spotted where the train station was. The dismantled entrance was for an air bridge leading to the station, we just followed under the bridge. At the station we found a sign in Spanish over the ticket machines. I guessed that it meant the trains weren't running. Edyta was sure they should be but I was telling her it was Christmas Eve after all. Another set of tourists confirmed for us that the trains weren't running. By this stage all we had left was taxis. All of the first lot of taxis were gone when we got to the taxi rank but luckily some more turned up soon. The driver we had was possessed by Ayrton Senna. He was tearing through the streets of Barcelona. I couldn't see the speedo, but I don't think I would've wanted to. At least it was cheap, especially compared to UK taxi prices.
Finally, late at night on Christmas Eve we arrived without our luggage at the hotel. It is a nice hotel. We stood in front of the room for a while trying to work the lock. The room is big (for a hotel) and there is even a bath for Edyta. I watched some TV while Edyta bathed. There was the standard BBC World channel, the one where the BBC spreads the most boring news articles it can find all around the world, and often with more ads about what is coming than the length of the show. I watched another channel that did the narration of a movie till I realized I was watching a Polish TV channel.