Our favorite UBER drivers (my uncle and aunt) kindly drove us to the airport. As it turns out, later in the day it started snowing…furiously. They made it back to their home safely but had we needed to go later, there would certainly have been issues.
We entered the lineup at 3:50 PM and were pleasantly surprised that the length of the KLM lineup was not too bad. They only had two service people which was definitely not enough. But, to their credit, they quickly got more staff which was great.
Online sign-in was something we had done the night before. Due to that bit of foresight we got to go to ‘Sky Priority’. That was really beneficial as that line was much shorter.
The first bit done we were now in the security lineup at 4:15. All things considered we managed to get through that very quick as well. No major issues by any people in the various ‘corrals’ at all.
Now we have a couple of hours before we can actually get on the plane. Knowing what was likely to be a less that satisfying supper on the plane, sitting down for a quick bite seemed like a good idea. There’s a place called ‘Deluxe Burger’. Not wanting anything heavy they also had a decent selection of salad items. Decision made, we each had one…chef’s for Rose and Caesar for me. Likely the best Caesar salad I have had in a restaurant in a very long time. I won’t go into details, but I’m a little ‘Sheldon-like’ about some things, Caesar salad being one. Rose even commented on her chef salad as being much better than expected. So…if you’re going to be on an extended flight and think you should eat before getting on your plane, this place is noteworthy. Smart that we did as dinner on the plane was less than stellar.
My ‘chicken’ was covered in ‘pesto’ with rice and something else on the side…also served with chickpeas and a dessert…of sorts. Edible yes…terrible, no…good, not really. The white wine, Chenin Blanc, was a surprise as I don’t have a lot of experience with South African wines. This, I’m sure, is Not an expensive choice but it was certainly more enjoyable than I would have anticipated. Can’t say the same for the Shiraz however. It was…disappointing.
Finally the plane is now moving at 7:49 PM. Now we have stopped short of the runway for a de-icing process. This takes a bit of time which naturally delays departure. (Side note…WiFi available in flight. One hour free but text messaging only. Full service available at a cost and is suspect depending on location.)
De-icing finally finished at 8:10 and I notice it is quite white on the field beside the runway. Glad to see it fade away as we are Airborne 8:19!
Cruising altitude 39,020 ft – 10,064 m
Cruising speed 676 mph – 1,087 kph
Flying time 7:41 hours/minutes
Once again I tried for a complimentary upgrade to business class…didn’t work which was disappointing especially given how impressed the crew all were with my graft. At landing they came around and gave us a mini of Bols Liquor in a ceramic figurine (specially made for KLM) and some chocolates. So…not a total wash I guess.
First 6000+ steps for the day all done in airports (and about another 4,000 done after we got to our hotel). I think there may be some personal records set in this department on this trip. Time will tell.
As we got closer to landing I happened to get a couple of shots out the window. Certainly not the greatest, but they do show some interesting things.
AMS airport is flippin’ huge! Way more restaurants than YEG and certainly very creative to boot. And, to their credit, it only took about 45 minutes to get through the inevitable lineup for passport control, despite appearances.
As luck would have it, we had to walk to the very last gate in the terminal to catch our Barcelona flight connection. There was only one moving sidewalk working in the direction we were going. Several others were in place…but under repair. This certainly contributed to the overall step count.
Now we wait for the Barcelona flight but fortunately it was not too drawn out. Onboard the plane at 2:10 PM local time and then we get to sit, waiting for two people that are late.
Wheels up 2:47 pm local and back down at 4:30 local time.
Welcome to Barcelona!! The temperature is a balmy 21 C with only the slightest breeze.
Prior to leaving home we had arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. As a solution to a transportation problem, it worked well. As an introduction to Barcelona…let’s say he was not talkative person. At all. His driving technique, while not dangerous, leaves one wondering how he can be cost-effective, even with a hybrid vehicle. The speed limits on the freeways and highways go from 100 to 120 KPH and 40 to 80 within the city depending on where you are. He followed all those but with a gas pedal that was a stuck in a mandatory speed-up/slow-down behavior. Continuously. It’s like his foot had some kind of nervous twitch!
Now we’re in the city proper and it turns out to be quite a drive from the airport to our hotel (Best Western Dante). All the while that foot keeps twitching. On top of this are the motorcycle drivers. Apparently, if you’re on a motorcycle, the lines dividing the lanes of traffic serve a secondary purpose as motorcycle-specific lanes. This is coupled with the obligatory weaving between the front of one car and the trunk of another to assist the motorcycle-lane change. By the way…slowing down while doing this is totally optional.
Having made it to our hotel unscathed seems remarkable but it was accomplished. Up to the room (which changes tomorrow…more on that tomorrow) to store our luggage and out on to the street we go. Up and down probably about four or five blocks checking out the neighborhood. Life certainly takes on a different feel after dark. Not blatantly dangerous, just a different ambience. Most restaurants don’t open til 7:30 or 8 PM…stores and super markets are open til midnight in a number of cases.
Supper seemed a good idea but we didn’t find the Tapas bar we were really looking for til after we made a home-made sandwich decision. As we didn’t feel much like a sit-down dinner, we thought we would do what we have done so many times in the past…find a deli (or supermarket) buy local meats, cheese, buns…and wine (DUH!!) and create our own. Worked great, again, I might add.
Iberico ham, Pechuga de Pavo Braseada (thin sliced turkey breast), Garcia Baquero Oveja, (sheep’s cheese) and Ciabatta buns…slam it all together into a perfect sandwich…pair it with El Coto Crianza…why go out when you can do it at home? Soooo Good!!
Tomorrow starts the real investigation of this amazing city. Stay tuned!