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The Arrival

posted Dec 24, 2010, 10:49 PM by Quoc-Anh Vuong   [ updated Jan 3, 2011, 11:51 AM ]
Since we have been very busy all the way up to the leaving day, we did not have time to plan much for this trip, so we set out the whole Thursday morning to pack and finalize all details: like running to the library to check out few Spain travel books, copy Huân's movies to portable hard drive for him to watch during the down time, and deciding on whether to bring the camping backpack or the pulling carry-on luggage. BTW, Rick Steves does not have a travel guide book for La Palma, Spain; what gives? Since the international flight allows us to have one check-in luggage, so beside each has a small (school size) backpack I and Hương, each has camping backpack, the rest each has pulling carry-on luggage. Since in this vacation, we will rent a car in La Palma, so we decided to buy the Europe map for our GPS, and bring that little Tomtom along. The whole morning was barely enough, by 2:30pm, we rushed out to the airport and made it to the gate.

The flight leg from DC to Madrid is around 8hr long, but was not bad at all. We each has our own screen and a large set of selections to occupy our time: TV shows, Movies, Music video, games or even just doze off with music from classical to heavy metal. For me, I watch 3 movies: Takers, Salt, and Sorcerer's Apprentice. By the time I finished the last movie, the pilot announced that we were only 15 min from Madrid, and the time was around 7am on the 24th of December, 2010. We left DC in the afternoon of 23rd, we lost a whole evening/night, and I did not sleep at all. The adrenaline from the excitement helped fight off the tiresome. This is our first trip to Spain, and I don't know much about Spain, or about the Spanish. Hương got a small pocket-size English-Spanish dictionary for us to use during the trip. Bảo went online the night before to learn few phrases ... I quickly learn this one for myselt: Quiero ir al baño!

The air plane landed in Madrid around 7am, the immigration custom was very brief, we basically breeze through the custom officer and boarded a shuttle to take us to the terminal. There we boarded another flight to Barcelona. We had around an hour to burn, so we checked out the food: I had an espresso to fight off the sleep, we saw a crusty bread (baguette) with cured meat inside, so we bought one, Bảo had a donuts. Yep, a chocolate covered donuts just like home, all the way from Madrid. The crusty bread with cured meat was pretty good, we divided up, and within few minutes, all gone! We waited about 30minutes and we on the plane to Barcelona. All of us took advantage of the flight to catch some Zzzz, but Huan for some reasons did not fall asleep; he spent his time looking out the airplane window.

Barcelona airport is big! I mean, it's pretty big, bigger than SFO, Chicago, and LAX ... well about the size of one in South Korea, Incheon. We had about 2hrs to wait, so ... again, we turned to food. We had a good experience with the crusty bread, so we tried again but changed the meat inside: we picked the cured spicy sausage (Chorizo). Again, it was a success. Bảo had hamburger, and Thuỵ had a crusty bread with cheese and ham. Huân stuck with fries, yogurt, and bread. Hương had a salad. After the meal, we found comfortable set of seats to wait for our flight, while Hương checked out the nearby stores.

We board the plane to Mallorca, which is another name for La Palma island; and by the way the two Ls in a word is pronounce like a "J", I learned this during the trip. It was a small airplane, and the fly time was only about 45min. Arrived at the airport, we headed to the Sixth car rental to checked out a car. Between the M1 BMW and the new Renault, we looked each other and decided to go with the Renault, comfortable vs. coolness! In La Palma, all rental cars are manual transmission, and I know how to drive stick-shift, so Hương or Bảo cannot drive. The stick-shift driving came back to me fairly quickly, it certainly feel good with the acceleration, the down-shift, and "reving" of engine. Love it! We bought the GPS map for Western Europe so we use the GPS to our hotel. Beautiful hotel, very impressive, Terra cotta tiles through out the house, two levels, and very comfortable bed. We went to town to shop for necessities and search for our dinner. Most of the restaurants were closed, so we decided to stay in, have our dinner and went to bed early. For our Christmas dinner, we had: pizza, Ibérico jamón, bread, and steaks. We all went to bed around 11pm, ....  but around 4am, we woke up to the rooster crowing at the break of dawn.

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