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Published: August 23rd 2009
Greetings all from this wonderful European café I stumbled upon called "Café Fleming-Marino" It is just so wonderful - one of the owners, Bryan, picked me up from the station around 8:30 last night and even paid for my taxi to the Guest House. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and conversation before retiring to the blow-up double bed for the evening! I'm now sipping on my coffee and enjoying the sights and sounds! It is almost like I never even left the country! Oh wait - I NEVER LEFT THE COUNTRY. NOT EVEN BOSTON.
Yesterday was....the day from hell. Let's recap, shall we?
After a stressful/emotional morning of packing and saying goodbye, I left for the airport a bit before 1 for my already delayed flight around 3:45. It was only an hour or so of a delay, so I wasn't worried about missing my connection in Newark for which I had almost 3 hours. Once at the ticket desk the real drama began - the ***** would not let me check in my bags or travel to Spain. Explanation: According to my itinerary, my "stay in Spain" lasted some 6 months. The Fulbright commission booked an arbitrarily-selected return ticket for April since that is the latest in advance they could book. Later on in the year when we know when we return to the states they obviously would be changing it. Well, in order to stay in Spain over a month, you need a visa. Not a surprise. I am not staying in Spain. I'm going to Andorra. Based on the ticket, however, it appeared I was going to intend to stay in Spain for 6 months (illegally) without a Visa.
Then the fun part began - trying to explain to her what a Fulbright is and what/where "Angora", as she repeatedly called my beloved principality, is. I literally almost cried at the thought of being stuck at Logan. I explained to her that I was leaving for Andorra after a week in the country and that bus tickets, the only way to travel into Andorra other than via car, would be purchased upon arrival in Spain. I shoved all my Fulbright documentation in her face and she took it all to the back. After a few minutes she came back telling me she would let me through, but that upon arrival I needed to leave Spain IMMEDIATELY. Ok, lady, thanks for the tip!
The trip was already ruined for me, since all I could think of was being detained by Spanish immigration and not being allowed to enter the country. To make matters worse, Chris, who was flying separately and meeting me in Barcelona a few hours later, would be left alone. I wanted to die. My flight to Newark, meanwhile, had been pushed slightly forward and was only 34 minutes behind schedule. Putting my brain into use I figured I would purchase airport internet, buy an Andorran bus ticket, and then keep a PDF copy on my laptop that I could show immigration if necessary. "LOOK, I AM LEAVING THE COUNTRY FOR ANDORRA!" I was hoping that Newark, being a very business-y airport, would have somewhere I could even print the document.
The next 3-4 hours consisted of sitting on the plane being told 400 different updates of what was happening. All domestic southbound flights grounded. All flights to Newark Grounded. Update in an hour and a half. Grounding for Newark Lifted. Taxiing for 15 minutes before clearance. 2nd in line for take-off. All flights to Newark grounded. Returning to gate. It was a joke and I wanted to commit suicide. It reminded me of my flight to San Francisco in January where I sat on the plane for literally 5 hours before we were able to take off.
Once off the plane I got in line for rebooking. For the probably 100 people in line there was one person at the counter. Brilliant. After a half hour of waiting there arrived a second person. I tried to keep things positive - maybe they could switch me to Chris' Lufthansa flight and it was all meant to be. Maybe I could still get to Newark and take the 10:30pm flight to Barcelona via Madrid. Hahahahaha, silly me! Why on earth would anything work out for me?!?!? Long story short because of weather the past few days (not the hurricane, mind you), all international flights from the last few days had been screwed up and all current flights were as a result full. There was no chance of anyone on my flight to get an international flight out today. I was so exhausted and heartbroken I couldn't even cry.
The woman at the counter ended up being very helpful. She managed to get me on an AirFrance flight at 5:30 pm today, the next day. I would be flying direct to Paris, then to Barcelona, arriving around 9am on Monday, one day later. Looking on the bright side, AirFrance is much better than Continental and has free booze. Also, I now have time to print out a bus ticket to Andorra and avoid that whole illegal alien situation. Meanwhile Chris has landed in Frankfurt and is now en route to Barcelona. I've called our hotel in Valencia as well so they know that only Chris will be arriving even though the reservation is under my name. The plan is simply to take the train to Valencia as soon as I arrive.
My friends Bryan and Peter were kind enough to take me under their wing for the evening - Bryan met me on the Silver Line from South Station. I had a dirty martini (perfect) waiting for me upon returning to their place in the South End. We ordered some take out, watched some TV, and tried to ignore the fact that my day was from hell and that I wanted to die. Sometime before 1 I headed to bed - in air-conditioning - which was amazing.
So here goes round two, I guess. A little over 8 hours until my next flight. I'm just going to pretend we aren't expecting thunderstorms all evening.
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