A Spanish Birthday Celebration - It's Time!! (Day 1)

August 30th, 2015

I've been here before.  

Not at this exact position, flying 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Madrid.  But the same situation.  You spend several hours in a smallish (though technically "Premium") seat, jockeying for the best position to try and get some kind of sleep, only to fail miserably.  It can't help but fail miserably.  And instead of sleeping, you poke though the In-Flight Entertainment, searching for movies that will keep you occupied for the next number of hours, or read the book that you downloaded on the iPad, preferably one set in a dystopian future (because apparently there isn't anything but a future that is dystopian).  Or both.  You do anything you can to keep your mind off of the fact that you aren't sleeping and you will be miserable when you land.

This trip, though??  This trip took a long while for us to even get to this place in the sky.

Spain has always been on the list.  When talking about Spain as a concept, it came as a surprise to most people was that neither Adele nor I had actually been to Spain.  But it just never happened.  But we did know, when we were going to do Spain, we were going to do Spain right.

The 40th Birthday year was the catalyst...the starting off point.  Doing Spain right means food and wine.  Mostly food and wine.  And many cities.  We didn't want to just do a few days in one city.  We wanted to experience Spain differently than the other foreign places we've visited.  So there will be multiple stops along the way and there will be driving.  I am 100% freaked out about the driving.

But actually getting to this moment in the air was a feat in itself.  Work has been particularly difficult during a time it historically shouldn't have been.  I spent many weeks just trying to get to a point I could leave my desk in a semi-acceptable state (and I was barely able to do that...sorry guys!!).  Just getting through this part was enough to put a few cracks in my mental state.  Then, my dad's body decided this would be a good time to have an Aortic Valve replaced.  You know.  As you do.

By the last day in the office before the trip, I was a walking nervous breakdown.  I needed this break.

I woke up at 3a, bleary eyed and stressed out about all parts of the trip.  Since Dad was not able to drive me to the airport, due to that whole "heart situation," I was feeling guilty about having Gina come by at 415a.  But as we drove to the airport in the dark cover of night, I started worrying less.  Most things were out of my control.  I couldn't finish the work projects anymore, I couldn't help my dad's heart work better.  I couldn't figure out what I forgot to pack.  I did what I could as best as I could and let the chips fall where they may.

Some of the zen attitude early on may have been because of the Admiral's Club.  Adele had access and could bring a guest.  I was that guest.

As we walked into the club, it was like walking into a completely new world.  The hustle and bustle of airport life flittered away.  People were calm in the lounge.  People were nice.  We likened it to the Wine Tent at Lollapalooza.  This tent was where we spent many, many hours during Lolla this year.  It was shaded, with places to sit and relax out of the beating sun.  It was so comfortable in the lounge that you forget there is another world just hanging out on the other side of the door.

During our time in the lounge, we were on a mission.  We knew there were open seats in Business Class.  And we knew we wanted them. Because the chairs stretched out into full length beds.  And you know, because Business Class. But the decision to spend $600 for an upgrade was too much for us.  We spent hours at two airports researching how to upgrade, while we waited for our flights.  And here are the rules as we have figured them out...

#1 - A Gate Agent can only change the ticket in their city.  In Chicago, we were talking to the agent about The Charlotte/Madrid leg.  She could see the info, but couldn't help.

#2 - If you are cool upgrading using cash only, you can do that at the gate.  Provided, of course, that seats are available.

#3 - If you want to pay for an upgrade with points/cash, you can do that over the phone.  Not at the airport.

#4 - If you used reward miles to purchase a ticket, you have less options.  You weren't going to be automatically bumped or you can't use points/cash.

#5 - Being nice to people thinking they will upgrade you out of the kindness of their hearts does not work.

Ultimately, we decided spending the extra money wasn't worth it.  So we sucked it up as best we could.

Our flight had a a very long layover in Charlotte.  And our timing was perfect.  Adele's Grandpa was turning 90 over Labor Day.  She was missing out on the big celebration, but was able to be a part of an impromptu Birthday Brunch in Charlotte.  Family members from Raleigh, Asheville and Indiana gathered (along with Carrie, the Adoptive Cousin) for a lovely brunch celebrating 90 years.

I kind of wish I had pictures.  But to be honest, I forgot to take them.  It may have been due to the Mimosa Haze I was trying to get to (though, never did - tip to restaurants...you are missing out on making big time money if you don't offer Mimosas in a pitcher).  Or that I was just the interloper in this festivity.  This one, I stole from Facebook.

Most of our time today, we spent at the airport.  Waiting.  Just waiting.  But once we boarded the plane, once we took off, once we tried to get comfortable in a chair that was never meant for comfort, once we gave up on trying to sleep, once we decided Ex Machina was a good movie to watch on the plane, and once the pilot came through saying we were 100 miles from Madrid...that's when the real adventure began.


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