Taking / Flight

While in Seville my main dilemma and focus was money. No one could quite understand how stressed I was about it. It was inevitable, to continue traveling on such little money. I'd already depleted my savings, my going home money etc. My main problem was trying to plan this mid-trip dash back home. Not only was that costing me a lot more because of the timing but it was really stressful to blindly make the arrangements . In Malaga, I'd finally made the decision of when to go home. Now it was about how to get home. So in Seville, I was texting and emailing just to get me from point a to point b. My mother was working with my former landlady now travel agent. I was trying to figure out my train transfer in Milan and navigating Paris after hours. I pretty much just wanted to get on US soil and figured I'd sort out the rest once there. I felt that once I was in New York I had multiple choices on how to get back to North Carolina. I even thought about thumbing it. That is just how broke I was. I was trying to arrange all of the above and just manage the here and now. I was so involved in that planning I'd actually forgotten about the flight from Spain to Italy. After all this was the most tedious part of our trip and we hadn't even discussed it.

I don't know if she realized I ran out of my own money way earlier on in France. From that point on I was borrowing everything even if it was from family, it wasn't rightfully mine. I was pretty much being sponsored. When I decided to go home it was too expensive to leave right then and very time consuming to make a well thought out future trip. So I sort of pulled things together as we went along and the money came. As much as she was pressing me about my plans she wasn't very forthcoming about ours. So most days I had no idea about travel times or hotel stays. I swear everything beyond Malaga was a surprise. We'd booked most of that stuff in one day in her friends living room back in France. We sat at a table with our laptops, a printer on a chair and her credit cards in between us. We took turns Googling and finding hotels, tickets etc. If I did the booking I used her email in the forms and sent everything to her. I would typically have a screen shot of an initial confirmation but no e-tickets or details for myself. She would then print the documents and hoard them in this little plastic portfolio our entire trip. I was never shown anything. Even when we went to a train station she held both of our tickets. I typically asked for the stubs for scrapbooking but she preferred to trash them. The flight was the only arrangement I actually kept a PDF considering it was the most important leg of the trip.

We'd looked at a ton of options to get us to Italy. We even re-routed our initial plans. We were supposed to go to Italy in early July and then go to Spain. When we realized a train wasn't available to Italy we changed the dates but then debated over a ferry or flight to Rome. We also had several cities lined up for Italy but had to narrow it down to only two. So then we were forced into taking a flight and choosing between some very shady airlines. We all know how bad RyanAir's reputation is and we both knew nothing of Vueling. Either way both airlines had all of these crazy fees and baggage rules. When I stumbled upon a booking site that offered an alternative sans fees I took it. Besides the airline had a trustworthy name and the price was very good. Sadly, the booking site failed to mention that in order to take our flight we'd have to take several trains to get to the right airport. In between these trains there could be cabs and shuttles as well. None of this was stated on our documents. We simply assumed we would fly directly from Seville, Spain to Rome, Italy.

We were both oblivious. Just as she was busy watching "Newsroom" on her iPad, painting her nails or asking me if I wanted to turn the live bullfighting off the TV - I was steaming about my arrangements home. I had to call a friend I said I wouldn't call again. I even contacted a friend that I have never asked for money in over twenty years of friendship. Now I was in this filler city between now and Italy where my money mattered most. So while she was having the time of her life I was just trying to cope. I was in Seville with basically no spending money, no clothes and no food. At one point I drank off the same bottle of gazpacho for two days just to sustain myself. I was really trying to avoid spending any money and just stay occupied in our crappy room. Now on a Saturday night, two days before our flight, she begins to review everything in her little portfolio and asks me which airport were we leaving from. Well, Seville has two airports and from the looks of it neither one of those airports supported flights from our airline, AirEuropa. If you could have seen our faces.

She then asked me to review whatever I had which was only a PDF copy of whatever she had. So then we both started looking online for more information. For a short moment I thought we had been duped. As I looked at the screen shots and PDF's everything was vague. AirEuropa's app didn't want to work. We couldn't see details without checking-in for the flight and it was too early to do that. We also couldn't contact the airline via the phone. So in that moment after days of harassing my mother and friends for money to get from NYC, I was now begging for someone to call the airline for us. It was the worst time and I couldn't get anyone to do it. Also, she had no SIM so she was relying upon me to make all the calls. No one was responding to me on Facebook or AIM. My mother was at some genealogy conference with her phone silenced. By the time a friend got a hold of me via iMessage my mother was already trying to communicate with them. She had went out to her car and got caught by a rain storm so she could finally answer the phone but seemed way too confused to help. Eventually she got ahold of the airline and texted me the most cryptic conclusion. We apparently had no actual tickets and could not board the flight without printed tickets but would have to spring for our own cab/trains to get to the airport which was two major cities away in Madrid!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember sitting on the bed and breaking this news to her. My mother had text it to me in suspenseful bursts so line by line I'm reading it. I expected for her to remind me that I had done that particular booking. I expected for her to physically hit me and cry about us being trapped in Seville forever. Instead her only response was that she would go to the train station in the morning and find out more. Now I thought she had seriously lost her mind. First, the train station had nothing to do with our arrangements or lack there of. Second, we took a cab from that station so it was quite far. Third, what if she died making the journey or was deported for being nasty. So many things went through my mind but it thrilled me that she could possibly be gone and stay gone for a while. Sure enough that Sunday morning she left to walk all the way to the train station. I'd already told her there was a strong possibility everything would be closed and it could be pointless. Europe is notorious for just shutting down on Sundays and Spain loved to siesta on Mondays so. Either way she went to the the train station and when she returned she had all the answers including printed tickets. Basically this sort of train/flight arrangement was nothing new for travelers going to Italy. The airline and booking site fronted the costs for a train and even paid for subway transfers from one station to the next. The only expense we had was to take a cab to our first train station and of course after her hike she tried to convince me to take the walk with our suitcases. That was another argument in itself. As short as I was on cash I actually offered to pay for a cab in full just to avoid a hot, miserable walk to our five hour journey.

So yes what was supposed to be a flight just around the bend turned into a five hour journey clear across Spain. Our train travel did have some hiccups considering we needed validations by attendants and they weren't the most accessible. We also had to travel back through Atocha to catch a train to the airport. Once at the airport we took a bus to our terminal but terminals were many miles apart. We also went to wrong terminal as per our tickets just to have to take the torturous bus to yet another terminal. Once in the right place we downed left over smalls of rum before the checkpoints but I simply forgot my Contingo full of water. So after her getting through and me being stopped she offered to drink my 500 milliliters of water. Once nearest to gate we found a Subway but we didn't even have money for drinks. So during our flight we ate our subs and endured extreme thirst. The flight itself was seamless and quite safe. Thankfully, we were not sardined on a ferry fully of chickens, goats and wheels of cheese. Once off the flight we finally found an oasis filled with very expensive bottles of ice cold, Roman, mineral water. No, not Pellegrino but cases full of my ultimate favorite, Aqua di Nepi. To think something I drove miles to get in the states was like Coke in this airport. It was like the perfect end in an old place to a perfect beginning in a new place.

Do I regret booking AirEuropa off that strange site? Nope! We paid less than we would have with any other carrier. Our baggage was not scrutinized and cost us no additional fees. The train thing was annoying but all the incidentals were gratis. I just felt a little uninformed about the process. Thankfully, she took one for the team and figured it all out. She also did many unthinkable acts like drinking all that damn water surrounded by men in uniform with guns and taking my suitcase on the escalator while I took the stairs. I have a horrible phobia of escalators. To be honest, we barely made that flight. We chose to go to Subway because it was right at our gate but our flight was boarding while we were trying to translate with the sandwich artists. Besides, that queue for the plane was a complete mess with all sorts of people barely any Italians. So everyone just mushed up to the door and there were no formalities i.e. they didn't board by seat assignments or anything. The plane itself was very nice for what it was and I felt safe. There were no frills or anything but it was a solid flight. In under two hours you could see the blue waters of Sardinia and feel the change in scenery. I'd also read so many in-flight magazines which showed that AirEuropa was quite an amazing airline with plenty of flights all over the world. They are like the JetBlue of Spain. Their website also clearly states their policy on train to plane transfers with all the instructions in multiple languages. However, in English it reads like an Ikea manual. So yeah what she did was selfless and necessary. Would I have done that myself? Probably not. I guess I'd still be in Seville. Thanks to her I was now in Italy where I wanted to be the entire time and drinking some really great water. 

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