On my way to Barcelona….

[pre-nagging: this post contains jokes about Italians, British, Spanish and French people. If you’re offended by generalization about nationalities on holidays, please skip this post altogether.]

What a joy to travel. Only a few hours after I left home, I am already feeling incontrollable urges to hate 4hundred of people that have been encumbering my travel plans. Let’s review what happened for me to manage to board the plane.

  1. International
    I was ready to leave the house on time, until I realized that for some Murphy’s law reason, my travel pass *and* my Gatwick express pass didn’t actually print, and Vista just silently failed on me. 5 minutes delay.
  2. British
    The cab then shows up 5 minutes late, getting me to the Gatwick express at 15:03. And *then* do I realize that, for maintenance work, said service leaves every 30 minutes instead of every 15. 35 minutes delay.
  3. More British!
    Well, you didn’t really expect the Gatwick express to arrive on time did you? 50 minutes delay.
  4. Italian
    As it happens, a big Italian contingency was sharing the same train as I. Having been raised with Italians, I’m fairly used to them being slow and unorganized (and nearly as rude as the French). But when there’s only one elevator for the already overcrowded train, things just add-up. Wait for 15 minutes to get an elevator, 65 minutes delay.
  5. British more and more, and some Italians
    Thanks to BAA, once I finally arrived at the airport level, and only one floor from checking in, a BAA representative barks at me that my luggage is too big to take the escalator. Bless the spotty face and the arrogance of the yellow-wearing Gatwick idiots.  At that point, I’m lower on the food chain and have to accommodate with the 2 out of 4 functioning elevators to get to departure. Wait for another 10 minutes, 75 minutes delay.
  6. British Airways
    Well, by that point, even though I was checked-in, the whole masquerade of pretending to call the controller about late-checking of luggage is unfolding, me knowing that under no circumstance do you try to get in touch with the guys handling the luggage by phone. Ever. You need a radio. But the masquerade to protect the attendants from telling me to fuck off unfolds, adding another 10 minutes. At that point we reach 85 minutes of delay.
  7. British Airways again
    Wait to get ticket changed at Customer Service. 15 minutes wait. Get told that I should queue (again) in the ticket buying queue. another 15 minutes. The fact that I have a business ticket seems to have no importance on how fast you get treated when you have a problem. People may wear smile well, but the customer service still painfully sucks. I stop counting.
  8. Easyjet
    Last flight to leave for Barcelona is Easyjet, from which I buy a cattle-class ticket for £139. I never travelled with them until now, and I know why. Gate checking an hour late, hundred of people just trying to walk on each-others and a waiting room that is probably not dissimilar to the corridor leading you to the fatal injection room in some Texas prisons. None of the staff has shown a single smile by now.
  9. Spanish
    Well, considering the destination, I have to moan about those a bit. While the lady next to me has been very polite and adorable, the (overweight) guy in front of me has insisted on reclining on his seat. Either that or said seat is reclining under the weight. In either case, the 17” laptop keeps on pressing uncomfortably against my stomach, making me regret the minute I thought getting the laptop out would be a good idea.
  10. Spanish on the other side…
    So of course, with the lack of space and strong sense of agoraphobia growing on me, not tamed in the slightest by the double bloody-Mary I inflicted upon myself, I politely ask the Andalusian woman behind me if she wouldn't mind too much if I reclined my seat. Of course, I did check that the only thing on her table was one of those miniature overly-salted overly-aromatized overly-fat overly-disgusting and overly-non-bio  Pringle pack. If you’ve never had the delicious pleasure of enduring airline snacks, the cylinder measures roughly 3 inches. But of course, said brunette, either not understanding my desperate attempts at sign language, or just being an annoying bitch (my preferred explanation so far), refuses with an arrogant no. Not the polite one you would expect, being apologetic for denying your freedom to ensure theirs. No no no. The aggressive “are you kidding me” refusal. Thought about slapping her face, or worse, just reclining the seat anyway. Give up, tuck in and put the laptop in my belly.
  11. German
    At last a smile from one of the flight attendants. I wondered for a long time why traditional airlines attendants always looked middle-aged, and where the young ones were. Now I know, they’re all trying to make a living working for easyjet.
  12. British
    Uh. Yeah, you guessed it. The plane is *very* late.
  13. American
    My iphone battery dies before I manage to connect to any network.
  14. Spanish
    Finally make my way out of the plane and try to accommodate my smell to the lack of locker-room scent that I had to suffer for the last two hours. Of course, TechEd buses are not running anymore, and the (4) guys waiting with a TechEd sign have no will to help you get to your hotel, pointing you to a cab. Sweet.
  15. Spanish
    Get in cab that has a big logo specifying they accept credit cards. Of course the guy refuses to take my card at all, so it’s off to the cash point, at a total interest of nearly 7% + £2 of transaction fee. Silly me I leave him a tip. Should’ve let him rot in hell. His teeth seem to enjoy the place.
  16. Hilton Diagonal Mar
    So you’d think with such an insane trip, with a booking made in June, Hilton would at the very least solve my problems. Nope, non-smoking room and no way to get a smoking room. At that point I’m exhausted and will just flaunt the non-smoking status until I get a room of equivalent size or more in *smoking* environment. Otherwise they’ll have to rebrand my room. Or charge me. But as there’s no mention of such a charge anywhere…
    Speaking of which, don’t even get me started with the quality of the internet, that I have the privilege of paying a freakin 100€ per 7 days for. Or the fact that their book where you supposed to have all the information for your stay, including the room service, is still unordered and missing entries. Second year in a row.

Oh, and in the process I just realized I forgot my TechEd card at home!

Follow Sebastien’s adventures tomorrow as he tries to get the room he booked and get registered at the convention center. *orders another beer and pops a prozac*.

[Update: after feeling bad and going down to smoke outside the hotel, I managed to get my room changed tomorrow. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel.]

[Update 2: On the up, hotel room changed. On the down, breakfast eggs made me sick this morning. At the conf center, hopefully everything will be a smooth ride from now.]