Airplane Travel 2016

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 3


All trips start with a trip to our major airport: Los Angeles International, an adventure in itself.  This trip was easy: because our departure time was in the afternoon, we only had to leave 3 1/2 hours early as there was no traffic.  Park, shuttle, clear security and we found ourselves in the new Tom Bradley terminal, a huge upgrade from the last time we were here.  It’s in the same place, but everything’s fancy, including the treats you can buy.  Dave, my husband, is carrying my travel bag for me, and his travel bag is a backpack.  This worked out pretty well for us.LisSpainAirTravel_3 LisSpainAirTravel_4

Until the time they wanted to board us.  We were on one of those jumbo jets with two levels, and unbelievably there was a Southwest-style boarding style, where you line up behind the uniformed gate agent holding a sign for your section.  All the people down to the blue overhead sign were getting on our flight, including a high school band (in the green shirts).  One sat next to us, and at the end of the trip, he stuffed the airline’s blanket into his backpack and said “Now I’ve got a souvenir for my sister.”  Okey-dokey.  LisSpainAirTravel_5I’m reading Deep Thoughts.  It may not be the best thing to read about dying just before you get in a silver tube and hurtle yourself across nine time zones.LisSpainAirTravel_6

Cute snack crackers, though.  I should really start photographing the meals we are served.LisSpainAirTravel_7I was fascinated with these udder-like squirt tubes on the condiments in the Frankfurt airport for their brats and pretzels.  Actually a clever way to dispense the stuff, but I felt pretty silly while doing it.LisSpainAirTravel_8Translated signs in airports are always entertaining.LisSpainAirTravel_9Looking out the window of our TAP Portugal airplane towards another of their planes, with Lufthansa’s planes in the background.LisSpainAirTravel_10What I did a lot of, while traveling.  There’s not much room on airplanes for anything, but I was able to get this organized.  I only lost a spool of thread once, coming home, and Dave located and retrieved it for me.  LisSpainAirTravel_11This was the view from our bus in the Sevilla airport.  The airline was so excited that we were there early, but that meant that we had no gate to go to as there was a plane in it, so they off-loaded us onto giant people mover busses and take us to the gate.  WE arrive there about the same time, even a little later, but for their airplane “on-time records,” THEY are early.LisSpainAirTravel_12Is this the best thing we can export?LisSpainAirTravel_13I’m pretty sure this was in the Lisbon airport.  Building design in foreign countries can be so radically different from what we’re used to, and when it’s discovered after a time shift in a sleep-deprived state, it feels positively transcendent.

LisSpainAirTravel_15Lisbon’s check-in stations, enroute to Sevilla.  We found a contraband table and chairs (why is it that all the tables and chairs in these foreign places belong to some restaurant nearby) and gulped down our breakfast that the hotel had packed up for us: two white-bread sandwiches, apples, and two bottles of juice (which we couldn’t take past security).Lisbon Airport waiting at gateWaiting at the gate. Always a challenge to figure out what to do when all the announcements are in a language you don’t understand.  Finally, when everyone stood up, we did too and we all boarded in a glob of travelers.LisSpainAirTravel_16 LisSpainAirTravel_17As I gazed down on the snow-covered mountains, headed to Frankfurt, I thought more than once of that flight out of Barcelona last year, where the pilot deliberately flew the airplane into the Alps.  There’s always a slight apprehension with air travel, as we remember that one that didn’t make it and forget the other millions of trips that are just fine.  There’s also a vague worry about our luggage, and will we make our connection and will we get home to Los Angeles, all things I can do nothing about as I power through the air at 30,000 feet.LisSpainAirTravel_18 LisSpainAirTravel_19 LisSpainAirTravel_20

Our Easter treat on the Lufthansa flight home.  We saved ours, as it would be the only Easter treat we’d have.LisSpainAirTravel_21

Okay, here’s a photo of an airline meal.  And believe it or not, it was pretty good.  The salad wasn’t too rubbery, the chicken, polenta and sweet potato (carrots?) went down easily, and I was thrilled beyond measure that I got a desert that was something other than the hated tiramasu.  And look! Real silverware.LisSpainAirTravel_22

LAX is just starting to string up interesting designs overhead as we walk toward customs.  I don’t know why we are always in such a hurry at this point, but we are, so this is taken on the run.LisSpainAirTravel_23

I didn’t weep or anything, but this is a nice sight.  The hideous lines were not fun, as two jumbo jets had landed at the same time and we don’t have Global Traveler, but we made it through that crush, got our car, paid the parking, navigated the crowded freeways and arrived home again to our lovely house.LisSpainAirTravel_24Home, sweet, home.

Hairdryers and Toiletries

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 2

I’ve decided to organize this trip by topic, as I’m bored with the chronology approach, and also because I realized that often, when I scan others’ blogs for info about locations, I want the dish on the details.  So, since I’m a woman, and I’m writing this blog, the first post is around the creature comforts that make me happy: a good hairdryer and good toiletries.  Why?

LisSpainAirTravel_1Because we travel very light.  This is it: a smaller-sized Rick Steves travel bag and a handmade type-writer-fabric carry-on for: the computer, last week’s newspapers I always plan to read, the iPad, chargers, empty water bottle, gorp, pashmina, pillow-that-blows-up-and-goes-around-my-head-for-sleeping, and for this trip, my pouch of embroidery.  So, no room or weight for a hairdryer and only the skimpiest of toiletry supplies.  I know I’m not going to outer Mongolia, so I can expect some comforts when I arrive.

Olissippo hotel_3 First stop was Lisbon, and the Hotel Olissippo Saldanha Hotel was great, with a great hairdryer and high-quality toiletries, as well as marble, marble, marble everywhere.  The hairdryer was on a shelf, not attached to the wall, so I had a longer cord to dry my medium-length hair.  I’ll be writing general info on the hotels in another post (have to rate those beds!) so look for more details later.  I also post on Trip Advisor quite regularly, with more photos and details there. Olissippo hotel_6Olissippo hotel_4Body wash and shampoo were combined into one, but we also had bar soap, shower cap, comb and nice bathrobes which remained mummified in the corner the whole time we were there.  It was really nice that they didn’t have the whole counter taken up with coffee maker, and gee-gaws holding all the toiletries like the American hotels (what is up with that?).

LIsSpainSevilla_4New town and new hotel: Hotel Amadeus in Sevilla and the bathroom hairdryer is one of those things on the wall, with a curly cord which works okay.  Not great, just okay.LIsSpainSevilla_10 LIsSpainSevilla_11This is it for the toiletries: packets of gel, weensy bars of soap, that when I open fall to pieces in my hand.  The tiny shelf is loaded with their stuff and apparently I can purchase the shell soap dish, according to the price list on top of the a/c  unit in the bedroom.  There’s lots of stuff for sale here: shell dish, accent pillows, pictures.

LisSpainCordoba_4The hotel in the next town, Cordoba, was a pretty snazzy place, as apparently the Queen and King of Spain had stayed at the Las Casas de la JuderiaLisSpainCordoba_4aThey had a nice hairdryer, mounted on the wall, and it beat all the hairdryers in terms of output: heat and blower strength.  Just thought you want to know how I grade these things.  They also had the arrangement that it only works if you are holding the button down, something I’d seen on our last trip, which flummoxed me at that time.  I’m used to the button being a “cool-down” button, but no. . . it has to be held down to get the hair dryer to work.

LisSpainCordoba_5aThis is to show you the floating shower floor, a unique feature.  No drain at all, but just a slab of marble with about a 1/2″ clearance all around, so the water flowed over the edge and out of sight.LisSpainCordoba_15Comb, shower cap, body wash, lotion, bar of hard soap for washing hands at the sink.

LisSpainGranada_1Now we are at Granada’s Hotel Leo, and we are roughing it: no marble anywhere.
(I’m kidding, of course, about roughing it.)LisSpainGranada_2But what they lacked in fancy stuff, Hotel Leo made up for in Capitol-C Clever.  I wanted to swipe the shampoo, but I knew the packaging wouldn’t make it.  But that shower cap came home with me.LisSpainGranada_3Yeah. I can see the drain.

Moving on: We were so un-impressed with our hotel in Madrid that I can’t find ANY photos of it anywhere in my stuff.  Good thing because on the first day the hair dryer quit after 35 seconds–it overheated and the automatic shut-off switch kicked into gear–and so they had to bring me up one from the front desk: an old-style wall-mount hair dryer which I perched precariously on the edge of the sink while I used it.  The rest of our stuff had to be put in the well of the bidet, as there were no other places anywhere.  It was basically a hotel for students, but the location was great.  And the last place. . .

Hotel Praktik Bakery_2

. . . was Barcelona.  This is the bathroom in Hotel Praktik Bakery, a walk-through affair with the shower and toilet in separate stalls to the right, hairdryer on the wall to the left of the sink, and it was a pretty good hairdryer.Hotel Praktik Bakery_7This place is compact, but comfortable, and it was a place that gave us plenty of room for our toiletry bags and what-nots in the bathroom.Hotel Praktik Bakery_8Best lotion of the trip–I brought home all the bottles they’d give me, cramming them into my one-quart toiletries bag.  When I use this, I think of our perfect trip to Lisbon and Spain and it makes me smile.

Itinerary for Portugal and Spain 2016

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 1

Mar. 11, 2016 • Friday
Leave Los Angeles at 3:10 p.m. on Lufthansa

March 12, 2016 • Saturday
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 11:05 a.m. the next morning
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, DE (FRA) is 2 hours 15 minutes.
Lv. Frankfurt at 1:20 p.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal at 3:25 p.m
Total Travel Time: 16 hr 15 mins.

LisSpainAirTravel_13March 13-16 • Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed (a.m) • Lisbon, Portugal
Hotel Olissippo Saldanha
Av. Praia da Vitória 30, Lisboa, Portugal

March 16, Wednesday • Travel to Seville
Leave Lisbon at 8:10 a.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive Seville, Spain at 10:20 a.m.
Flight time: 1 hr. 10 mn.

SevillaMarch 16- 18 Wed p.m., Thurs, Fri am • Seville
Hotel Amadeus
Calle Farnesio 6 y calle San Jose, 10
Barrio de Santa Cruz, 41004 Seville, Spain

March 18 Fri p.m. Travel to Cordoba
Leave Sevilla (Santa Justica Train Station) at 12:50 p.m.
Arrive Cordoba train station 1:35 p.m.

CordobaMarch 18 Fri • Cordoba
Las Casas de la Juderia
C/Tomás Conde, 10, Cordoba, 14004 Spain

March 19 Sat a.m. Travel to Granada
Leave Cordoba at 11:27 a.m.
Arrive at Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 11:55 a.m. (in the middle of nowhere)
Leave Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 12:15
Arrive Granada 1:30 p.m.
Overall travel is 2 h. 3 min. (1 hour of it is bus)

GranadaGranada Saturday March 19 afternoon-Sunday afternoon March 20
Hotel: Room Mate Leo
C/ Mesones, 15 18001 – Granada, Spain

March 20, Sunday—Visit to Alhambra Nasrid Reservation @ 9:30 a.m.

MadridMarch 20, Sunday Travel to Madrid
Leave Granada “train” station at 2:45 p.m
Arrive Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 4:00 p.m.
Change from bus to train in Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station
Leave Antq S.Ana 4:23
Arrive in Madrid 6:40 at Madrid Puerta de Atocha [Madrid P.A.]
Metro to El Sol station near our hotel

March 20-22 Sunday-Monday • Madrid
Hotel Victoria 4
Calle de la Victoria 4
Puerta del Sol, 28012 Madrid, Spain

BarcelonaMarch 22, Tuesday • Travel to Barcelona
Leave Madrid (Madrid P.A.) at 5:30 p.m.
Arrive in Barcelona (Sants) 8:40 p.m.
Take Metro to hotel

March 22-25, Tuesday to Saturday am • Barcelona,
Hotel Praktik Bakery
Provenca, 279, 08037 Barcelona, Spain

March 26, 2015, Saturday
Leave Barcelona, Spain at 6:00 a.m. on Lufthansa
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 8:20 a.m.
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) is 1 hr. 50 min
Lv. Frankfurt at 10:10 am on Lufthansa
Arrive Los Angeles, CA at 1:50 p.m. and try to remember where car is
Total Travel Time is 15 hr. 50 mins.

Surface Travel: Train, Bus and Trolley

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 5

En Route:

Barcelona Train_11

The noses of the Renfe trains look differently, but they all go really really fast, like up to 300 km/h (below).  Like children with shiny toys, we were fascinated by the changing speeds, and nudged each other when it hit the top speed.Barcelona Train_0 Barcelona Train_6 Barcelona Train_5

I could move between cars, and this glass sliding door kept the “inter” compartment isolated, which explains why there were always a lot of people on their phones in that place.  We had a “quiet” car on one of our train trips, which was really lovely, as it cut down dramatically on the party atmosphere.  Spaniards do like their conversations.
Barcelona Train_4a Barcelona Train_3

Trying to catch a photo of the landscape, instead I caught a photo of a passing train, the cars shuddering as they whoomped past each other at top speeds.
Barcelona Train_2

The terrain does remind me very much of California’s Central Valley, with green crops broken by brown plains, fallow farmland.

Last City: Barcelona’s Metro is limited through the city center, but runs very well.  We found there were two main lines we traveled on most of the time.  When we went out to see Anna at Barcelona Patchwork, we took another.  We split our time between busses on the surface (which are more interesting because you can see the city),  and the Metro.

Barcelona Metro4 Barcelona Metro3 Barcelona Metro2 Barcelona Metro Map Barcelona Metro Cars