Date:   August 31, 2000
Location:   The Road to Barcelona

At the counter, the agent explains that exit rows were allocated many hours ago. She assures us that our seats (50J & K) are fine - after all, we get to board first!

Sorry, one 13 lb. carry-on per person. You have to check the main bags. Agent Pollyanna, here, explains how this is really a good thing: it will be less work for us, going through customs, you see!

Hot dogs @ Nathan's (2 dogs, 1 w/kraut, 1 w/ketchup & mayo, fries & drink, $6) Not Nathan's at its best (refried fries, steam-soggied bun), but a surprisingly decent value for airport food. We contentedly munch our meal in the sunlit alcove.

(Holy moly, is he really going to tell us everything they ate for three weeks?! I'm afraid so. He did this on his last travel log, too. And they're not wealthy enough to call him "eccentric"!)


Our home for the next umpteen hours

BA's 747 taxis a circuitous route to the threshold of Lindbergh's runway 27.

We take 120 dg turn onto the runway, a little too fast on 1st try, smoking the nosewheel & aborting the takeoff on advice of the tower (everyone's still nervous about the recent Concorde crash?). After inspection, we're cleared for takeoff, & take the turn more gracefully. Rotation comes 20 secs after takeoff thrust, & liftoff 2 secs later. What a hot-rod! That's better performance than any other aircraft I've been in. I don't know why they work so hard to start at the very beginning of the overrun!

Snack (on a 1-hour leg?) is a small roll w/ham & cheese, grapes, potato chips, & water.

In Phoenix, we load up with fuel & passengers (full-up). I guess Agent Pollyanna doesn't have a counterpart here: Many new passengers are carrying multiple baqs, and lots of those bags look much heavier than 13 lbs. (Brigid is fuming.)

Off we go. The 747-400 is distinctly less sprightly with a full transcontinental load: 38 secs to Vr, 41 V2 - almost half the performance in San Diego.

Dinner: wine (Fetzer), choice of lasagna over spinach or grilled chicken breast w/corn salsa & rice. Plus salad, a rye roll, lemon cheesecake, cheese & crackers, and a small Cadbury chocolate bar. Not bad.

The flight to Gatwick is nice and smooth., The movie display screen is far away, and the color balance is atrocious, so neither of us is inclined to watch the movies ("The Skulls", "Children of the Railway") or BBC/NBC TV reruns. I read some Moby Dick on the Palm V, and then catch a few hours of sleep. Some more Moby Dick (I would read up on Barcelona, but the guide book is in the bag we were forced to check!), then breakfast (undistinguished blueberry cake, blueberry yogurt, rolls, and coffee). More Moby (got past the 19th century litany of cetacean knowledge -- "huzzah whales" == porpoises!), and we land at Gatwick.

We kill three hours at the Gatwick transit terminal (boring!), and catch our flight to Barcelona. Dinner is cold chicken pieces covered in pesto, rolled in some cheese flakes, and placed on cold pasta in tomato sauce. Salty, but otherwise decent. Hey, where's the dessert?!

We get off and reach the immigration officer without my having had a chance to fill out the arrival card. I show him the passports, and the blank arrival card. He waves us through, anyway!!! We get our bags, and we're out of the terminal before I can say, "Uh, where was Customs?"

Consulting the Rick Steves guidebook, we learn that the Aerobus is a cheap ($3) easy way to get into town. It drops us at Plaça Catalunya, 2 blocks from Hotel Nouveau. Sweet. Room 123. Bed. BBC news. Sleep.