Thursday, March 11, 2010
8:22AM, March 9, 2010
The smoke is so thick in this Spanish cafe you could cut it and spread it with a knife. Stranded passengers of buses, planes and trains trudge their heavy lugguage through the snow and ice. I'm grateful I've got my backpack and not roller case as it is useless today. Girona, Spain is shut down. If I was just a few hours earlier yesterday I could have beat the storm out but it pumbled the city with more snow that it's seen in decades.
I've got a meeting at 9AM tomorrow in Switzerland and somehow I need to make my way to Milan then Southern Switzerland. I'm not really all that worried, all I can do is my best. Worse comes to worst we'll meet later in the week. But I'm going to take on the challgene to keep the all day meeting with the management so the goal is to get back to Barcelona Airport to get whatever flight I can to Milan. I think I can succeed by later tonight. Gonna keep the faith.
---4:02PM, later same day
The Travel Angles. They never let me down. I'm sitting in the cafe, admiring a lovely northern European family, also stranded. The toddler captures everyones attention as he innocently stumbles from table to table involking smiles from frustrated, stranded travelers. The grandfather approaches me out of nowwhere, wondering if I speak Spanish as they desperately look for a cab to make thier way to Barcelona. We are on the same mission, but I have the goods.
We call various cab companies with no success but miraculously we are able to find two minivan cabs to take us from Girona to Barcelona Airport. The price: $300 Euros. Yikes. I'm invited to come along for 25 Euros which, after a wild ride with much needed interviention on my part, the family decides to waive with a smile. I make it to the airport in a few hours for free.
From there I find a wireless connection and in minutes have booked a new flight on Vueling leaving in 90 minutes to Milan for only 120 Euros. I'm now on the airport bus into town where my favorite Italian in the world Anna will be picking me up and whisking me away to eat lovely food before carrying on to Switzerland later this evening. Mission almost accomplished. I'm running on a peaceful, surrendered adrenline buzz watching the mystery of life unfold.
So just like that, I'm in Italy. I love Europe for the quick teleportation to new lands, languages, foods, architecture, fashion and landscapes. I feel at home in Northern Italy for some reason, perhaps it's my roots from here and Switzerland. Sometimes I think that's why I seem to connect so well with Assos, my favorite sponsor by far, being a Swiss-Italian company at heart. That's me, with a mix of Slovak to mix things up.
Phase one of my escapades in Europe are now complete. I'm amazed by the warmth of Cristina's family, now my family. What I feared might be shunned as a mistake, having a child out of wedlock with a Spanish woman, was rather embraced and celebrated. I now have nephews, a new sister and brother, Papa and a rockin’ Spanish Mamacita. Below are a few pics from part one of my stay in Barcelona. My next visit on the 21-24 March will include a trip to the doctor to watch our little gift swim and check out his or her private parts so we can stop saying his or hers and come up with a cool name :). The family is praying for a girl since they have 4 grandsons now, all nephews…bring on the nieces n granddaughters. For Cris and I, just a healthy child is all we’re after. So far so good!
I’ll be in Milan in a few minutes and I’ll try to send this sucker out from Switzerland. Assos styled me out with a lakeside room on the southern tip of Lake Lugano to rest up before our meetings tomorrow. Some exciting projects in the works, top secret cool stuff.
March 11, 2010...
Ahhh, fresh Swiss air! Clean water from the tap. Organization.
I hit Milan and my good friend Anna met me at the train station. From there it was off to my favorite European family--Anna's folks. A huge Italian feast of fresh pumpkin soup, meats, salads, wine, homemade breads...I LOVE ITALY!
The meetings the next day in Switzerland with my sponsor Assos went great and I found a great Couchsurfing.org host Aida in Lugano until the weekend. Life is good!
Over n out from Lugano!
Live Big. Give Big. Love Big.