In the weeks leading up to our trip to Spain my husband kept saying that he felt disorganized. I felt he was worrying too much. We had planned our second trip to Spain, and our fourth trip to Europe, to be more laid back and relaxing than our previous trips had been. Yet, looking back there were a series of small mistakes before and during our trip and I think some of them could have been avoided by both of us listening to our inner voices a little more before we left on our trip.
For me the first mistake came two days before we left when we began packing. Our trip was going to have us in Spain for two weeks, three days longer than we had ever been gone on any trip before. Since we were going to be gone for a full fortnight that involved packing a lot more clothes. I was very focused on making sure we had enough underwear and socks since those are the two articles of clothing you really don’t want to have to reuse unless you absolutely have to. Our mistake didn’t come in terms of socks and underwear, it came in terms of other articles of clothing. We both way over packed. The funny thing is we had very different views on how much we were packing. From the very beginning I felt we were both over packing, while my husband felt he was under packing. Looking back I didn’t need to take five pairs of jeans and two pairs of slacks. Considering jeans can be worn anywhere from three to five times between washings I would have been set with four pairs of jeans and no slacks. I took three shirts I never wore and I took a pair of dress shoes I also never wore. My husband didn’t take any slacks but he more than made up for it by taking several more sweaters than I did. I knew I was over packing but I didn’t listen to my inner voice. I also didn’t weight my suitcase before hand. I think these two mistakes were a result of starting to pack relatively late. This error was a big one in retrospect. It made me rethink everything throughout the course of our trip.
Moving on to the day we left Los Angeles. I worked a full day and rushed home after work. We left on the red-eye (as we always do when we go to Europe) so that meant that even before we left for the airport I was tired from working a full week. We called for a cab and were dropped off at the international terminal of LAX. Last year when I went to Peru with my mom I didn’t fly out of the international terminal even though I was flying internationally and I was happy to be back at the nicest part of LAX. When we got to the ticket counter at LAX our error in packing immediately became obvious. My suitcase was right on the boarder in terms of weight but they let it go though. I knew my husband was in trouble because just by pulling his suitcase it was obvious his weighed more. Not surprisingly his suitcase was over the weight limit. We have both been over the weight limit before. In 2012 my husband was over on the weight limit when we left Paris and in 2013 I was over the weight limit when we left Berlin. In both of these cases we managed to avoid paying the excess baggage fee by taking stuff out of our suitcases and shoving articles of clothing into our carry on backpacks, but we had never been over the weight limit at the beginning of a trip before. We once again managed to avoid an extra fee when my husband took a big heavy jacket out of his suitcase and wore it on the plane and I put a package of unopened dress shirts into my backpack.
Although we managed to avoid the fee it was a little cloud that hung over our entire trip. For two weeks various decisions were made in regards to purchases of souvenirs with the weight of our bags hanging in the back or our minds. While I couldn’t control my husband’s choices on how much he packed I was constantly kicking myself for not listening to my inner-voice that had told me I was over packing.
Once we dealt with our over packed suitcases my husband was left with a giant back pack. No worries, we our finally on our way. Before boarding our flight we ate at the airport. The Tom Bradley international terminal had been remodeled since the last time we had been there in 2013. I really liked the changes.
The whole terminal was much more open and modern than it had been before. Well done on the face lift LAX.
As much as I love going to Europe (and I do love it) the flight to get there is always brutal. All four times we’ve gone we have taken the red eye flight from LAX to London Heathrow. The flight lasts ten hours and it leaves you wondering why you subject yourself to such torture on a voluntary basis. Over the years we have figured out that if possible the best choice for us in terms of seating is to pick to isle seats across from each other. That way we are close enough to talk but we both also have the extra space of sitting on the isle. The best way to make a long flight more bearable is to get up and walk around as much as you can. Sitting on the isle is the best place to do this. Our seats were on the upper deck of the plane. At first I was really excited about this, I have always wanted to sit in the upper deck of a plane but at the end of the day it didn’t make any difference. Still, I’m glad I had the experience just so I won’t wonder about it. There was some drama involving a family and a crying baby. Luckily the flight attendant moved the mom and the baby to the back of the plane where the dad was sitting and by the time we too off there we were crying baby free. I was so happy they moved the mom and the baby away because at various times during the flight I could hear the baby crying.
Once we were in the air I felt a little bit bad about leaving our cat alone for two weeks. I knew my friend would check in on her and she would be okay but I still felt some pet parent guilt. As we began to make our way towards London Heathrow I tried to relax and let my body get tired on it’s own. I watched the movie “Men, Women and Children” and allowed my eyes to grow heavy. The movie was good but not great. After the movie I tried enough to get some sleep with the help of my earplugs and sleeping mask. I did sleep but I’m not exactly sure how much. My guess is around three hours.
When I woke up we were still over the Atlantic but approaching the coast of Ireland. I checked in with my husband. He had barely slept at all, only around 30 to 60 minutes, so I knew that as tired as I was he was in worse shape.
When we got off the plane we began the trek of changing terminals for our flight from London Heathrow to Barcelona.
As we navigated the maze that is that airport I realized that despite the fact I’ve never been to the city of London itself I have now been throw it’s airport seven times in my life. That airport ties it with DFW as the third most frequented airport in my life. I really do need to visit the U.K. for really one of these years.
We had just enough time after transferring from Terminal five to Terminal three to get something to eat and relax for a little bit. The first time we went though London Heathrow four years ago we went hog wild a bought a bunch of stuff. With each visit through that airport it becomes less and less like a special event and more and more like what it really is, just a place to change planes. Still I did choose to buy some English Breakfast Tea and a London pen to take home with me.
Our flight to Barcelona was short and sweet and my husband was able to get a little bit of sleep.
I am always amazed with how easy it is to go through immigration in European countries (not to mention Peru) compared to the United States. And let’s be honest it’s not like the U.K., Spain and France haven’t encountered their own terror attacks in the years since 9/11. Every time I enter a European country I am only further convinced that all of the hassle that it takes to get in my home country really is only for show.
After getting our bag we hopped in a taxi and headed four our hotel. When we visited Barcelona in 2011 we not only fell in love with the city we also fell in love with the hotel we stayed at, so when we decided to return this year we picked the same hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel we were happy to find that there had been a few changes, for the better, including the fact that the kitchen was now open late. That meant we could eat something after our very long voyage before going to bed. With our long voyage behind us we were ready for a good night’s sleep so that we could get started on our Spanish adventure the next day.
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