Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Man! You guys are a persistent bunch! Relentless, even!

Yes, yes, yes...I've been a posterboy for sloth recently. But, it's not my fault. It's Chicago's fault. That's where I've been vegetating for the past week or so.

Really...you guys have known me long enough to know that an extended absence from blogville means that I'm probably stuffing my face with Italian Beef on the other side of the ocean.

This latest Chicago trip was, like all the others, fabulous. I saw some friends that I was dying to see, ate a lot of irresistible foods that Europeans would likely poo-poo, and watched enough Iron Chef on the Food Network to qualify as a Japanese language scholar.

About the only downside to my trip was the trip itself. Iberia Airlines--which I praised so highly for upgrading me to Business Class two months ago--blew it's stash of goodwill by overbooking our Madrid/Chicago flight. Ines and I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours before departure, only to be told that there were no seats available.

Now...call me cynical, but I've lived in Spain long enough to doubt--and doubt very seriously--that 300 of my fellow passengers arrived at the airport and claimed their seats before we did. This is, after all, a nation that can't even sit down for lunch before the sun begins to set.

When they first informed me that the flight was full (despite the fact that we bought our tickets six months earlier), I optimistically assumed that they'd just upgrade us. I was, after all, travelling with a 3.5 year old; plus, I gave this stupid, incompetently-managed airline a boatload of free publicity in Expatica just a few weeks earlier.

Well...Iberia couldn't quite muster two seats in Business Class, but they did muster two seats on a flight to Miami.

Miami. For those of you who are not cartographers, I can assure you that Miami is not exactly a suburb of Chicago.

So, Ines and I flew nine hours to Miami. Then stared at a lot of obese people with sunburns during a five hour layover. Then boarded a three hour flight from Miami to Chicago.

In short, we left our home in Madrid at 8:30am and arrived at my parents' house in Chicago--are you ready for this?--TWENTY THREE HOURS LATER!!!

But the fun continued.

Although our bodies finally arrived in Chicago, our luggage didn't. In fact, our luggage didn't arrive until three days later. And while I certainly appreciated my father's offer to lend me some of his underwear, the five inch difference in our waistlines necessitated a polite refusal and an emergency trip to Target.

Once the luggage did arrive, however, all was well. Ines and I not only returned to Spain with a cache of happy memories...but also, with enough underwear for the entire population of Madrid.


At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

Perhaps you should make a Spanish translation of the Expatica article and carry it around with you, together with some fantastic fabricated response from an Iberia executive. At least you might get some response.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Tell me, are ALL airlines getting bad, or what? Our Swiss flight to Vienna (see blog) was cancelled a month before departure date and we weren't informed!

Glad you had fun in Chicago though :-)

At 1:41 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

Now you know why I don't like to travel during peak travel season! These things don't seem to happen as much during the dead of winter.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger El Casareño Ingles said...

I sympathise greatly. I used to work in the Customs business for many years. Miami was even then (20-odd years ago) known as a black hole for luggage and freight - seems the baggage handlers were ripping off everything that arrived. It amazes me that Fedex put the operations centre there.

Not much seems to have changed in the meantime.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

Sal, great to see you back on-line and blogging, and that my ransom offer will not be required. Hope the heat in Chi-Town was bearable. Your experience with Iberia beats my last one... a 9 hour delay in Madrid after I got up at something like 2am to take the bus from ZZA to get there two hours early. Never a word about what the problem was, nada.
Oh well, when it comes time for our next trip to my adopted homeland, it will be price that determines who we pick...since they all suck. Last time (for me...Mrs IP has gone every year *sniff sniff*) it was Air Canada from ATL- Toronto-Madrid, as it was 50% of everyone elses. Of course that was at the peak of the SARS epidemic in Toronto. Hopefully in November there will be some other reason to offer $500/seat fares and we can get back to Tapalandia.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Chicago huh. So close and yet so far...

At 8:25 AM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Oh you big babyyyyyy ... it's 23 hours in the air to get to NZ from Istanbul, I presume it's similar from Europe.

Lol, okay yes, and I am a monster since you have to factor in your 3.5 year old and lost luggage.

Glad had a nice time though ... and isn't it nice to be so missed by such an interesting array of truly lovely people.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back - presumably safe & sound! Sorry to hear of your flight problems. I sure was going through "Sal withdrawals", along with the rest of your fans! I did stumble across a new blog http://sylvanhood.blogspot.com/ while seaching for interesting international readings. Few comments - yet - I'm sure the gang here can lend a hand.

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Glenna said...

Glad you had a good visit with the folks. So relate to the luggage incident. Been there, done that, only our punchline was to get our luggage back the last day of the cruise. It's a sick thing to wear little old lady rhinestone embossed parrot shirts for a week.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Mrs. TBF said...

Welcome back Sal - glad you had fun in Chicago. Did you eat a combo sammich?

At 6:59 AM, Blogger christina said...

Miami. Geez, what a trip! And here I had visions of the both of you living it up in first class. I'm glad you eventually made it there and back safely, though.

We continue to eat our way through B.C. and have amassed enough stuff from the dollar store to fill two suitcases.

Oh and YES! to Iron Chef!

At 11:41 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Sigh ... you wanna send me something to type up for you here?

It's simply been toooooooooooooooooo long now Sal. The tapas bar is getting dusty ... oh, I'm going to one tomorrow night. Will get back to you on that.

Come back Sal, please?

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope all is well with you & you are enjoying another vacation - sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink in your hand. (Although, maybe sitting doesn't sound much like you, maybe running along the beach?) I'm looking forward to your (imitate?) return!

-- DJG

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to "say" IMMINENT! – I should have checked the spell check!!

-- DJG

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous The Big Finn said...

Ok, man...Mrs. TBF and I are beginning to get nervous!

At 8:52 PM, Blogger woman wandering said...

Me too, Big Finn and Mrs TBF ... Sal, where are you?

Shall I send you a long missive where I nag you endlessly about how reading your blog makes my day sometimes and how I rely on easy access to the parts of your world that you are happy to share????

Shall I mention repeatedly that your blog is a little piece of sunshine on dark Antwerpen days, especially now that summer appears to be over????

Shall I ... ????

Hmmmm, I think I shall write a longgggggg and very boring nagging email to you if nothing new is posted within the next 24 hours.


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