I love travel. I even like being in an aluminium tube 10 kilometres up in the air squashed in with 300 other people. But there are drawbacks. Airport security is one: intimate searches after which the only thing missing is a proposal of marriage. Then there is sitting on your derrière for 24 hours and not knowing which cheek to rest, the loss of sleep and time zone changes which lead to, I imagine, the closest I will ever get to a drug trip or drunkenness, and I shouldn’t forget the indescribable rumblings that airline food causes in one’s innards. But it beats 5 weeks of boredom on a crowded migrant ship in the 1950s.
If there are any tendencies toward depression it should be noted that leaving at 4pm from Melbourne has its dangers. You find that you are flying into the night and the night stays with you for the whole trip. The sun set over WA and resurfaced as we arrived at Madrid. It was a very long night.
Twenty four hours of discomfort and tiredness to be in my favourite country. Not a sacrifice!
Flying overseas without my wife, for the first time ever, I had interesting fellow passengers to cautiously sound out. (That could have been phrased better). The first was a young lady from the Ukraine who had spent 2 years studying in Box Hill. I didn’t know Box Hill could be so riveting. Anyway she loved her time in Oz and now had to travel back via Paris. The second leg had me next to two Spaniards from Burgos. One of our favourite cities so we hit it off. The lady had walked the Camino 9 times and they wanted to visit Australia. I didn’t mention the freezing temperatures Victoria had when I left.
As I am writing this at a cafe table in Madrid, the church bells are ringing but nobody bothers to listen to its invitation. Including me.
When I got off the plane I heeded my wife’s instructions re: the Metro but then I had to navigate the Sunday timetable. A fellow traveller, of Mexican appearance, also seemed puzzled. So we teamed up to confuse each other. In our adventures I learned many things. He comes from California and his dad was an immigrant to the US as a young man who later fought in Korea. He is a writer and teacher who has a book in the pipeline. His eyes lit up when I mentioned Steinbeck, because he did his major on him at Uni, and even spent time at UC Davis where my oldest daughter had also worked at as a post doc. We got to Sol in the centre of Madrid and I was sorry we had to part ways. I think we had discussed half of Steinbeck’s works by this stage! I did leave him with a question; how would Steinbeck have written about Trump’s America?
The Spanish are city wanderers. It is not unusual to see families, married couples and lovers wander the streets, particularly in the afternoon through to late evening, but Sunday must be peak wandering time.
Anyway, my hotel is about be ready for me and all I want is a shower and a sleep. Maybe later this afternoon I will continue to observe the Spanish wandering tradition.