“It's a bit bizarre, I know”

We woke up without our alarm, around 6:45, not feeling the greatest, but not feeling the worst either.  We got ready slowly (Justin), and a bit more rapidly (Crystal).  Once we were fully packed, we went downstairs, checked out, and waited for the taxi the hotel had called for us.  The taxi came after about 5-10 minutes, and then we went on our way.  The taxi driver was very verbose – he would’ve made a very good tour guide.  He pointed out several items to us, including the Christopher Columbus statue, the new part of the marina area added for the Olympics, and one hill near Montjuic where the red stone for the pillars inside La Sagrada Familia were quarried.  He mentioned that any further quarries would be from a location in Scotland, so as to not chew up any more of the hillside.  We got to the airport around 9am.

At the airport, there weren’t a ton of people in line, but it was moving very slowly.  We were a bit worried, because at least half of the persons were being asked to check their carry-on bags.  Given that all we had were carry-on bags, we were going to be in a pickle if we had to check those.  But when we got to the front, wearing our backpacks, the agent simply had us turn slightly so he could see them, and told us they were fine.  Phew, problem averted.  But when Crystal’s passport was scanned, we heard the machine beep and we saw a red light show up.  This wasn’t entirely surprising, as every time she’s gone through Heathrow, she’s been “randomly” subjected to additional screening.  The line in Barcelona for immigration was much longer, but we had plenty of time, so it didn’t end up mattering.  Once in the terminal, there weren’t many options for food or drink.  Justin sat down and watched the bags; Crystal got herself a sandwich and some coffee, and then grabbed some Burger King for Justin.

The flight to London was short and sweet.  For once, Justin got some sleep and Crystal did not.  Sadly, when Justin awoke, he had no feeling in his right ulnar nerve again, similar to what happened on our flight from Isfahan to Istanbul back in 2017.  Given that it took him multiple doctor’s visits and several months for feeling to come back, he was pretty bummed out about this.  Not surprisingly, the weather was gray and cloudy in London.  We landed at Terminal 3, but had to connect to Terminal 5.  It started with a long walk for us to get to a bus.  Then we had a 5-10 minute bus ride.  Then, back inside, we had a long walk to the security area, where we had to go through security again.

When we finally got inside the main terminal area of Terminal 5, it had been more than an hour since we landed.  We checked where in the terminal our flight was, and we saw the flight to San Diego was in the B gates.  The B gates required us to get on a tram to go from the main terminal to the B gates.  Once inside the B gates area, there wasn’t a single restaurant.  There was one bar with lukewarm sandwiches and a couple shops – that’s it.  Justin said “how can this airport suck so much?”  Crystal got a glass of wine, Justin got some water, and we each ate our sad sandwiches.  Our gate, Gate 38, was in the corner.  We walked over there, and there was a wall that prevented us from actually getting there.  We literally could not see a way to get to the Gate.  We had to ask someone working at the gate we were closest to, and she pointed to some circuitous route that required us to go back, around several walls, like a mouse in a maze.  She told us “It’s a bit bizarre, I know.” 

The only good thing about our time in Heathrow was that, amazingly, Crystal’s boarding pass did not have SSSS on it – she would not have to go through additional screening.  Justin did get some additional screening, in a different sense.  A man came up to him and starting chatting him up, asking him questions about how he enjoyed his time in London and a couple other questions.  He was likely one of those “behavioral” security agents that get used a lot more in Europe (and Israel) than in the U.S.  We eventually got on the plane, and were in one of the last two rows, which had only 2 (as opposed to 3) seats on the two sides, so we didn’t have to share our row with anyone.  The plane had quite a few empty seats, so no one may have ended up sitting next to us anyway.  We got a bit of sleep on the plane, plus read and listened to podcasts.  There wasn’t much of interest out the window until we got near Las Vegas and could see Lake Mead.  Coming into San Diego we could see the observatory on Palomar Mountain, and then as we came into land we could easily see the Coronado Bridge and downtown.  It was a bit odd being on this plane, because almost every day we look for this flight (BA 273) when it comes into land (a video we took is immediately below), and today we were actually on the plane. 

Since we had no bags to pick up, we were among the first to get through customs and immigration.  Outside, it was like arriving on any other flight to San Diego – we just crossed the street and caught an Uber, and were home (2-3 kilometers away) in no time.  Lola and Avon greeted us enthusiastically, and we felt bad when we put them back in their crate in short order so that we could get a quick bite to eat.  We walked 10 minutes to Puerto la Boca in Little Italy, and got margaritas (it was Cinco de Mayo, after all) and some empanadas.  The bartenders were shocked to hear/see that we’d woken up today in Barcelona, and that we’d been traveling all day until an hour ago.  They said we sure didn’t look tired or weary, so we were happy to hear that.  We wrapped up, walked home, and got ready for bed.  Tomorrow we’d have to go back to the real world.

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