March 6, 2010 Third Day On a Train to Barcelona from Madrid
Travel Notes I:
1. The pace of life in Spain is so much more leisurely than California. While back at home I must constantly remind myself, slow down, breath, it does not have to be so fast. Remember Spain.
2. If I walked into the streets of Saint Petersburg I would know I was in a different place. Even when I walk into the streets of London and Paris I know I am in a different place, but here in Madrid I could not tell that I was somewhere different until I spoke to the people and heard Spanish.
3. So far what I have seen of Madrid on the streets is not particularly photogenic. It just looks like home.
4. Somehow I had Madrid matched with Athens in my mind. But there is no comparison. Madrid pairs with Toronto, my home town, more than anywhere else. I must also say that I had Spain paired with Mexico, but especially after seeing Madrid and Barcelona nothing could be farther from the truth. Greece pairs with Mexico. Spain is a first rate, modern country. This is a place I will return you. Next time I will be armed with Spanish.
5. Concierges are essential. Every morning I have a talk with the concierges to plan my day. They arm you for a day!
Travel Notes II:
1. There is nothing nicer than having a good hotel room with a concierge, especially in a country where you do not speak the language. Yes, it costs more, but it is worth it. Fly cheap if you must, but do not go cheap on the hotel. After a long day it is so relaxing to return to a clean, quiet and safe room. Never forget this because it is tempting to go cheap.
2. In one’s carry-on luggage always take an AC power plug adapter for all the airports you will be going through. In London I could not charge my phone because I did not carry one in my carry-on. In Spain my luggage did not arrive, so again I could not charge my computer or phone until my main bags arrived. Consider taking more on the carry-on in case of baggage loss.
3. Carry a small water bottle onto the plane, but don’t drink too much.
4. Never carry a water bottle through security, even if you bought it inside security in another airport. This caused me a 15 minute delay and a full body search in London. I brought some water on the plane from Los Angeles after I had passed the LAX security.
5. Carry snacks in your carry-on. This has paid off for me.
6. While traveling in Europe always bring a tailored suit jacket. They dress more formally here than in California. I am underdressed, especially in this hotel.
7. Always bring an umbrella! I usually do, but this time I decided not to bring one because I had just purchased a first class water proof coat. Then at the last minute and threw the umbrella into my baggage. If would have been a horrible day without that umbrella. It rained all day and it is still raining!
8. Again, thank God for concierges! It is so hard to get information without knowing the language and these people save the day.
9. Learn a little travel Spanish. French does not help! There is a huge Spanish speaking world out there; all of South America is calling, so learn some Spanish. Besides, it is a nice language in spite of what I think of Mexico.
10. My iphone is an wonderful travel companion. It just works and it is my best friend.