Half-awake, half-asleep – moving slowly but somehow with great purpose and knowledge for my surroundings – I weaved through stagnant mobs of study abroad students with ease, passed through customs unscathed, and stepped onto the Metro. And just like that I had made it to the land of Kings.
When an opportunity presents itself, you must be ready to take it.
In my case, the opportunity that came before me was one where I would be able to head to Europe and begin working and living in Madrid, Spain. The decision was difficult…and it was tough to leave the very fine city of San Francisco, but in the end the daydream filled with images of sidewalk cafes, fine wine, and sun-kissed faces, was all too much, and so I packed up two bags and jetted off to Madrid Barajas Airport.
Before the time to travel had come I was able to spend two weeks relaxing with my family in Tampa, Florida. I sat out by the pool, fished, ate well and drank better, played golf, read a book, and got to spend time with my brother (who, if you remember I had last seen in San Francisco). But then like it always does, time passed and it was time to take off.
At the airport I was forced to pull out items from my large suitcase because the bag exceeded the weight limit (I had thought the limit was 70lbs but alas I was wrong). The flight agents and other travelers looked on with the same concern one would give to see a crack-head pillage through the garbage – as I ripped books, clothes, and shoes from my suitcase and sat down on the floor trying to make a 65lbs suitcase magically weigh 50lbs. (After several efforts I used a black garbage to carry the extra items and wrapped the handle with official American Airlines tape).
My flight was first from Tampa International Airport at 12:30pm to Chicago-O’Hare International Airport. Where before passengers on the Tampa flight had looked at my garbage bag-suitcase-creation with a certain admiration marking frugal excellence, in Chicago the passenger’s faces were scrunched with disapproval. They must have assumed I had not had time to complete a load of laundry but oh well.
From Chicago to Madrid I had a long but pleasant flight where Spanish cougars poured me scotch on the rocks and I leafed through my rarely useful Frommer’s guide to Madrid.
My time at the airport in Spain was one of delirious confusion, fleeting fear, and ultimately relief. I touched down at 8:55am local time but this was near midnight Eastern time. I had been to the Barajas airport once before, and so it all was strangely routine. Making my way through the crowds and approaching customs I was nervous because I had a student Visa which expired January 15 (only a few days from now) and yet the woman at the desk saw no reason for concern or was too wrapped up in discussing the local TV shows with her friend too care. At the baggage claim, mine were some of the first off of the conveyer belt and I made my way for the exit or “salida”, stepped through several doors and down an escalator and onto the Metro platform.
Now out into the streets the icy cold wind woke me up and lifted a faint smile on my face. I had made it.
*This new section of TAKEYATHERE will cover all posts from Spain and travels in Europe. Stay tuned for weekly updates and leave comments or suggestions on good places to visit below.