Sunday, August 18, 2013

Off to Europe...Eventually...

San Francisco International Airport to Barcelona

About three years ago, while we were still living in Albuquerque, our friend Christopher began talking about the European adventure he was dreaming of in celebration of his 50th birthday.  It began as ‘5 for 50’ as in five months in Europe for his 50th birthday.  Well, the trip went through many iterations over the years (not the least of which saw five months turn into a mere three), but in the early stages when Christopher mentioned inviting friends we knew that we would be there!

The ‘American Friends and Family’ portion of the trip ultimately came to fruition in the form of a week-long pleasure barge trip on the scenic Canal du Midi in the south of France, not far from the Spanish border.  When we learned the location of the trip, we decided it would make sense to fly into Barcelona, as it would be much closer to our destination than arriving in Paris.  This plan also gave us a great opportunity to arrive a bit early and spend a few days visiting our Dutch friends Daniel and Leonne in their home in the vineyard-rich Catalonian countryside an hour outside Barcelona. 

The trip got off to a bit of a slow start.  On July 6th we were sitting at our gate planning to board our 747 to Frankfurt when we learned via numerous Facebook posts that an Asiana Airlines jet from South Korea had crash-landed at SFO earlier that day, making the wide-body jet runway unusable.  From our gate, we saw the long stream of fire engines and ambulances crossing the tarmac in the distance.  For a time, the entire airport was closed down and no one could enter or leave, on the roads and runways, alike.  

Getting some fresh air at San Francisco International as we awaited news of our flight.
After repeated delays, our flight was finally officially cancelled.  United re-booked us on a flight the following evening and sent us away to spend an unexpected night in our own bed.  As we considered what the new day would bring, we had memories of the chaos of trying to fly in the days immediately following 9/11 (on that fateful day back in 2001 we were scheduled to be on a flight back to California and spent the following four days trying to get home).  We had visions of spending half of our vacation trying to get on an airplane, any airplane, and to the other side of the Atlantic.  It was a stressful time but luckily none of our macabre visions of vacations cut hideously short came true.

Enjoying beer, brats and sauerkraut in Frankfurt
Following a brief layover in Frankfurt as originally planned, we arrived in Barcelona about 36 hours late but all in one piece, grateful to find our hosts patiently awaiting our arrival in the middle of the night to take us to their home.

No comments:

Post a Comment