Four days in Spain and we’ve tried every form of transportation but ship, starting with airplane from Seattle to Chicago, then to Madrid and ending in Barcelona. The only weak link was American Airlines, but then my husband reminded me that it was never wise to book seats on an airline going into bankruptcy. Iberia Airlines seemed luxurious by comparison. Unlike American, its computer system didn’t crash before our departure and its maintenance crew didn’t have to close off one toilet out of three due to water leakage problems.
In Barcelona we traveled by subway (Metro) and city bus. Both were clean and efficient and easy to access. Since we were with two guides with sharp eyes and a knack for sniffing out pickpockets, we avoided an encounter with three young women who were walking single file and checking us out as possible victims. The strategy of pickpockets, we were told, is to work in teams with one person blocking the victim’s exit from the train while the other two commit the robbery.
Yesterday’s thrill came with a three hour ride on a fast train, the Ave (bird in Spanish), at speeds up to 200 mph. It reminded me of riding the Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. And then there’s the Mag Lev train in Shanghai. In the region where I live, civic leaders have been arguing for years about building a light rail system and even as construction has begun so have the lawsuits. How frustrating when you see so many other countries and cities making such progress in improving their transportation systems.
When we arrived in Madrid, we were greeted by 850 bus loads of demonstrators from all over the country. Our only complaint about this welcoming party was that every restroom in Madrid and even 25 miles out of town was taken.
From the train we took a leisurely bus ride to the town of Segovia, where our final mode of transportation was our feet since the part of this ancient Roman city we were in wasn’t built for cars. This morning over breakfast we spotted yet another form of transportation I hadn’t considered floating by our window: a hot air balloon.