Three weeks ago today I got off the plane in Barcelona, Spain, feeling the oddness that comes when you step into an airport in a country you have never visited.
A shift has occurred when you do that, and now you are in different territory. You look around, a little dazed, and wonder what are those funny little juices in the vending machines?
Airports themselves have an other-worldly feel, with thousands of people passing through this space with its artificial light and shops selling outrageously ugly handbags and jewelry. Luckily for us everything went smoothly on our trip to Spain and Germany, and we spent a minimum of time in airports that feel vaguely like enormous casinos.
There was a tight connection in Amsterdam on the way home, and a moment of fear as I gaped at the ticket agent while she ripped up my boarding pass and tossed it away, "You'll need different seats" she said. Oh. No.
But the new seats turned out to be in Business Elite class. That's right! Me, with a button missing on my shirt, my sweater grimy from its surprising amount of use in chilly Europe, and the socks which I belatedly realized were mismatched, that's me being offered cold champagne and warm towels. That's me in a gigantic plastic seat with its 16 different functions, including two types of back massage.
Coming into Portland: Mt St Helens and Mt Hood
Just before we landed, a flight attendant asked me if I had liked the wine with dinner, and I said that yeah it was good and I hadn't known that they made white wine in Bordeaux. Then she gave me a parcel: "There's a bottle here that is down one glass; I've re-corked it and wonder if you'd like to take it home?" Why, yes, thank you! She must have known from my schlumpie appearance that I would be delighted to be offered a partial bottle of wine, and not think twice about accepting it.
When I got it home, I took it out of its bag and saw that she had wrapped it in a clean white cloth, and fashioned a bow out of plastic. First class.
OK, enough about air travel. I have to look at my photos, all 944 of them.