This is the last of a series of posts about a trip we took to Spain to ride roller coasters. Here are the previous installments:
All that was left of our trip was the depressing task of getting home. Fortunately things went relatively smoothly. I had to get up at 6, but had become reasonably accustomed to getting up at early hours. We had the orange juice (Naranja in Spanish) from the mini-bar, which tasted rather bland compared to the fresh juice we'd been having with most of our breakfasts. Janna took the Coke they offered and had it later too.
While getting ready I was a story on the BBC about the town of Benidorm. Apparently it had had a very big boom, but then been hit hard by recession, with effects similar to the US housing boom. Terra Mitica was mentioned specifically, including its attendance problems.
We took the 8:00 shuttle to the airport, a bit earlier than we'd really have liked, but it only ran once per hour and we wanted to allow some leeway for airport delays. It was at this point that I recorded something that I'd noticed often but hadn't registered to that point. When a desk clerk or cashier would greet a customer, they'd usually say "hola". I'd have thought they might say the more formal "buenos dias" instead.
The shuttle was even more crowded than it had been on our prior trip. The repetition of the bus trip to the airport yet again spurred feelings of sadness that the trip was coming to a close. Usually on such extended trips I would be about ready to return home by the end, but this time I only felt like I could have spent a few more days. I thought of it as perhaps getting a kind of second wind. The portions of the trip after the fast-pacd roller coaster tour, where we were able to do what we chose in a more relaxed manner, might also have contributed to my not being ready to go.
We were dropped off outside our terminal. We took a conveyor ramp up to the departures level. The counters were along a very long hall. Check-ins were arranged by counter numbers, a fact which took us a bit of time to figure out. Even once we understood this we still had to find ours, which took some time. There was a bit of a line there. They announced a full flight and made a tempting offer to let anybody leave the next day that wanted to. We wished we could have, but just didn't feel we could afford to take any additional time off. In any case, we'd already have lost a fair amount of time on the day by going to the airport, then having to deal with rebooking a room.
I was surprised to see that they didn't require me to take my shoes off in security. However something on me made the X-ray machine beep, which led to me being patted down lightly. When the security guard was done he said "muy bien" to me.
I had made sure throughout the trip that I didn't lost my customs exit form. I had put it inside my passport envelope for that trip. I was very surprised when the passport agent didn't ask me for it, and I never had an opportunity to hand it to anybody. I was a bit worried, though there was really nothing important to report, just a couple of T shirts.
We had some time and decided to get breakfast at a nearby stand. I got an iberico and cheese bocadilla. In buying this meal I managed to get rid of nearly all my European money. I was left with a 10 Euro bill and a few miscellaneous coins, perhaps the best job I'd ever done estimating my trip costs.
I had a much better view out the window than we'd had arriving, but we didn't see any of the plots that we thought might be olive groves, so we didn't get a chance to determine if we were right. There was a bit of a haze as we passed over Portugal. The clouds got heavier but dissipated in time to give us a view of the coastline.
We were served a meal relatively quickly. It was the same "Chicken Vesuvius" that Janna had had on our trip out, by a company called Aldo's. It came with a "chocolate tiffin brownie" that caused Janna to comment, "This is a crappy brownie".
During the flight, apart from napping I watched the new Star Trek movie and some other programs on the entertainment system, at least until the video I was watching seemed to grind to a halt and I couldn't restart it.
I felt like I'd been flirting with a sore throat all day, so I finally took some aspirin just before the second meal service, a chicken and cheese sandwich. I noticed there was a mustard packet labeled "mittelscharf Senf", the last of many unexpected German touches to the trip.
Soon after this meal I sighted the North American coastline. It did not seem that the beaches there were as large as those on Portugal, but perhaps this was due to our being at a higher altitude.
We arrived early in Newark, which was a relief because we didn't have a very long layover. Fortunately passport control went relatively quickly. My bag was a bit slow to come out, but not to the point of being worrisome. In the customs line we found ourselves behind an obnoxious guy with a very big cart full of luggage going to Miami.
Fortunately our connecting flight back to Pittsburgh was uneventful. We arrived back home at about 7. As usual for a travel day it was exhausting, but by no means the worst I've ever had.
In the end it was a great trip. The coasters were not as spectacular as on some of our other European trips I've been on, but most of the parks--particularly Tibidabo and Monte Igueldo--were very charming. The "concrete coaster" was one I'd dreamed of riding for many years, so finally being on it was very satisfying. And the extra days of the trip were really fulfilling and enjoyable. The first day, particularly our visit to San Mercado, set a tone of pleasant relaxation that carried through the rest of the trip, even when things became more hectic.
As for the country of Spain itself, I liked it better than I expected. Of course there was good food and wine. I had not realized how varied and innovative Spanish architecture, both medieval and modern, was. And the countryside and climate were compelling too. I'd dreaded the potentially excessive heat, but I didn't really find it problematic in the end.
Often on extended trips, I find myself getting worn down by the end. Usually I'm quite ready to get back home, though the travel back can often be an ordeal in itself. In this case, I wound up only wanting more. Add Spain to the long list of places I wish to return to.