Sorry about that, Ecuador fans!! Just ignore this series if you don't want to hear about my trip to Mallorca, Naples, Rome, Barcelona, etc.
It’s Monday (I think) and I’m on the boat. So much has happened I haven’t had the right moment to sit down and right. As of this moment, it’s raining outside and it’s 2pm so this is a good time.
Let’s back up a bit…..
Last I wrote I was in Quito. I had to fly to Quito a day earlier than expected because my airline decided to cancel my original flight which was scheduled for Friday. They re-booked me for a flight later in the day but that meant I would miss my flight(s) to Spain. So, I arrived in Quito at 9 in the morning on Thursday but my flight wasn’t leaving until 6pm on Friday!! What to do? Quito’s airport is out in the middle of nowhere and so was my hotel. Taxi’s to Quito city itself are $25 each way. So, I nixed that idea. I just stayed in my room and slept and did internet stuff.
The next day, Friday, I had to check out by 12pm. So, off I went to the airport via a $5 taxi to wait it out for 6+ hours. UGH!!!
I went to an Avianca computerized kiosk and checked in online and got my boarding pass. I noticed during check-in the seats I had selected when I booked the ticket, were no longer mine. I had to pick new seats with only a handful left which made the pickens not so great. Dammit. Then I shuffled over to the Avianca counters to check my bags but no one was there. I was informed they open at 2pm. UGH. So, I went to kill time across the street where there were a multitude of dining options to plunk down at and, again, surf the net.
After I couldn’t stand it any longer, I shuffled back to the terminal and the Avianca counter and plopped my ass down on the floor near an electrical outlet so I could charge my various devices as they were all on low.
After about 30 minutes of that, an Avianca agent showed up. I checked my bag. I verified (as I always do) what I needed to do with my checked bag in Bogota or Barcelona. They said my bag was checked through to Barcelona and, there, I would have to pick it up, go thru customs, then re-check my bag in to continue on to Mallorca. Ok, that sounded like the typical norm whenever landing in a country different from where you departed. (hint…as if you haven’t already thought of it…remember what I just said…ahem, cough, cough).
I headed for security and went through the line and got processed, then headed for Migrations. An officer stopped me and examined my documents. I was AOK. Migrations, however, could not process me because I was only allowed to go into the boarding area 3 hours or less from my flight. I had to wait another hour. Could not someone have told me that BEFORE???
Soooo….BACK through security (in reverse) and allll the way back out and across the street again to kill an hour (and a bag of peanuts).
3pm. BACK across the street and into the terminal and AGAIN through security, then migrations which accepted me this time. Now, only 3 more hours to kill before boarding.
Strolled through (mostly by) the shops. That killed 15 minutes. Found another chair next to an outlet to continue my re-charging and internet surfing.
Photo of a cool mural in the airport terminal:
I decided I should by some Euros since I didn’t have any and I might need it when I land in Mallorca for taxi and such. I tried to go to the Central bank in Cuenca on Weds but they were closed for the holiday….until MONDAY!!! Anyway, I went to the exchange booth in the airport knowing I was going to get dinged because that’s how they make their money. Online, the exchange rate for a dollar to a Euro is $1.10…meaning it costs $1.10 in USA money to buy $1 in Euro. Well, I gave them $100 in USA and got only $76 or so Euros in return. That means they were charging an exchange rate near $1.28. EESH!!!
Fast forward (I wish it really happened that way) and I was on an Airbus 320 headed to Bogota….an hour and a half flight. All in the dark. No photos flying over Columbia. Waaagghhhh.
Liftoff from Quito:
Fun fact: Quito is at 9,000 or so feet. Takeoffs at high altitude airports take longer due to the thinner air. I decided to count this one. It took 36 seconds of rolling before we had ‘rotation’ (lifted from the ground).
Bogota’s airport is huuuuuuuge. It has normal gates where a jetway is connected to the plane to let passengers on/off. But, in the area where we parked, we had to go down to the tarmac then board a bus which motored us to a gate where we got off and sought our next gate to connect to the next segment of our trip. Though huge, Bogotas airport seemed very efficient and easy to find your way around.
I didn’t have to retrieve my checked bag as it was checked all the way through to Barcelona (more on that later…remember what I said earlier).
Luckily, the layover time was only an hour so I didn’t have to sit around killing time. The plane from Bogota to Barcelona was a biggie…an Airbus 330 which carries almost 300 people (crew and passengers). It was packed to the gills. The seat configuration is 2 on the side, 4 in the middle, and 2 on the other side. 8 people and two aisles spanned the width of the plane.
The line to get ON the plane looked like one waiting for Space Mountain in Disneyland. It zig-zagged down 2 levels then on to the jetway which was the longest I’ve ever seen…I think 4 jointed segments.
To give you a perspective of takeoff…Bogota, too, is at a high altitude like Quito. To get this sucker off the ground we roared down the runway for SIXTY seconds before rotation!!!! Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…keep them doggies rollin…RAWHIDE!!!
….to be continued.