**The Woman and I are in Spain for 12 days. This is our story. Hopefully it doesn’t end with death or debt. This is Part 1. More to come over the next 11 days! **

We began our 12 day journey across Spain 1 by getting on a plane in the USA. The nine-hour flight was imposing, but in the end it was nothing insurmountable. The real challenge was the nine-hour wait in the Madrid Barajas airport. The Woman and I were unprepared for the brutal wait we had in store – and myself especially. We had hoped to find an earlier flight upon arriving but realized that the flight we booked was the earliest out of Madrid that day. And so we had to wait. We browsed every store, managed to accomplish our goal of procuring a prepaid SIM card (for navigating spain via smart phone) 2, and grab a bite. This killed only a couple of hours. We had to find something to do to kill the rest.

Jet lag combined with a long flight and sprinkled with uncomfortable seats equaled half-naps in hard chairs that were seemingly designed to prevent sleeping. There is a photo somewhere of me lying uncomfortably on one for an hour.

As we groggily waited for our flight time, we anxiously checked for clues about the gate, the boarding time, and anything we could find. Of course that meant the flight was delayed. We groaned audibly at the news. When we finally boarded, we were grateful and slept on the entire flight. The Iberia Airline crew were smartly dressed and surprisingly young compared to the American Airline crew we had for the first two legs 3.

The Sevillian airport is a start contrast to the newest Madrid Terminal 4. Where the Barajas airport was new, shiny, and replete with architectural flourishes, the Seville airport was old, and merely practical to my eyes. An old screen displaying arrivals looks more like flipboard than a digital screen. The conveyor belt baggage claim area was a free-for-all. Still, we managed to grab our bags quickly and jump in the taxi line quickly.

I was jolted out of my sleep-haze by our taxi driver’s amazing navigation skills through the narrow streets of the city. I’ve yet to see any other drivers take the alleyways so confidently. I’m not exaggerating when I say he drove like a movie stunt-driver in a chase scene. He took turns at full speed with little regard for passers-by. He shifted by parked cars and walls like he had acres of space instead of the inches he actually had. For his performance I tipped extra – which apparently was unnecessary and way to much 4.

We arrived at the hotel and we did little else but fall into the bed and sleep the best sleep we have had in recent memory.

  1. This includes days of travel. To and from Spain. The plan is to travel from Sevilla to Madrid, followed by Barcelona. 

  2. I am still surprised at how easy this was. In total we paid $25 per SIM card – one each for myself and my wife. This buys us 1.5 GB of data, and 60 min for phone calls. This will more than suffice. I primarily want to use it for google maps while navigating the city. The hotel and a few other spots have free wi-fi so we should be fine with what we paid. 

  3. Isn’t it strange that we aren’t that far removed from ‘sexy’ airline stewardesses? The majority of airline flight attendants are still women, and there is still a lingering expectation that they be young and beautiful. This is most noticeable on Qatar advertisements. These flight attendants were young and pretty obviously meant to be in that mold. The other crew I saw in the Madrid airports were similarly typecast. 

  4. So it turns out that tipping in Europe is different than in the US. I expected it to be so, but wasn’t exactly sure of how. Given my exhaustion, I’ll excuse myself for tipping so much (about $20 too much) when every travel tip site says that about 5% is more than sufficient. I still feel guilty about not going to at least 20% for every meal, however. “When in Spain” though, right?