Date:         Thu, 9 Sep 1993 16:16:00 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <>
Subject:      Vignettes of the Peninsula and Beyond

So....  my flight from RDU to DFW was uneventful and devoted
almost exclusively to my worrying about the connection (exactly
25 minutes) which the travel agent swore was the <legal>
connection.  We arrived on the runway about twenty minutes early,
then sat there for thirty five minutes waiting for a parking
space.  I was ... uh.... anxious, one might say.
Finally off the plane, and the gate to Madrid was right there,
beside the gate from RDU.  So onto the plane, ready for a nine
hour flight to Madrid.
Not much to tell about the flight.  Very good service, acceptable
food, and a movie which I did not see because I passed out from
*Then*, in Madrid, a long walk from International to National
flights.   Very long walk with two heavy bags and very few minutes
to spare.
On the way, I passed several signs indicating check-in points,
but I had what I thought was a boarding pass and ignored these
little arrows pointing to the left and to the right.
At the gate, I saw a long line of people waiting to get past the
hand-in-your-boarding-pass booth, and I checked at another counter
where they seemed to be confirming flights.  It went like this:
   "But, you have not checked in" (It is now five minutes before
   "Yes, but I have a confirmed seat on this plane...."
   "But, the plane is full."
   "Yes, but I have a confirmed seat on this plane...."
   (Agent looks at computer)...."The plane is full."
   "Yes, but I have a confirmed seat on this plane...."
   (Agent sticks up her index finger and beckons me to follow
    as she walks over to gate, *in* *front* *of* fifty people
    waiting to get on, three of whom yell "Hey, Gib!"
    She talks to woman at gate, who looks at computer and says:)
    "But, the plane is full."
    I just stand there.  (I learned this long ago.  In Spain, it
    is best to just stand there)
    She looks again and says: "But the plane is full."
    "Yes, but I have a confirmed seat on this plane...."
    She looks again and says: "Aisle or window?"
    Then she says: "Smoking or Non?"
    I say:  "It doesnt matter."
    She says:  "Of course it matters"
    I say: "Non..."
    She zips through the computer stuff, hands me a boarding
    pass, and the first woman directs me to go in the gate,
    in front of the fifty people who are waiting in line.
    In my seat, on the plane for Las Palmas, as the plane moves
    out to the runway to take off, I count seventeen empty seats.
    I *love* Spain.  It operates in a manner beyond one's wildest
    --ggs  (Si, se~nor!)

Subject:      VOTPAB2

So my friend Rodney left Las Palmas on Saturday to prepare
the way for me on Sunday to spend two days in Madrid.  He was
assigned the duty of finding a good, inexpensive hotel in the
center of Madrid, and he knew just the one, since he claimed
to be an <antiguo cliente>...  When I arrived at the Madrid
airport on Sunday, I waited for my big heavy suitcase, which
I had checked in Las Palmas.  Sure enough, as I emerged from
the bathroom, I saw it travelling down the bag-runway, almost
to the little rubber curtains at the end.  I ran, but it
slipped through the curtains just as I got there, and then the
runway *stopped*, with my bag only about 18 inches on the other
side of the curtains.  The bag-handlers feverishly tried to
get it started again, but to no avail.  I knocked on the window,
pointing to the bag, yelling <la verde> <la verde>....  but they
just shrugged and pointed to the next ramp.  So they loaded all
the outside-the-curtains bags onto a trailer and moved to the
next ramp and put them on.  I took quick posession of my bag and
emerged into the welcoming arms of friend Rodney, who had a story
to tell.
--ggs (No, se~nor, no es posible)

Subject:      VOTPAB3

Rodney had found the perfect hotel room.  The deal was, since
neither he nor I were <into> roommating, he would either get two
rooms at the inexpensive hotel, or if the Palace or Ritz would
give us a double at $100, we would take that.  No dice.  The
Palace was $275 and the Ritz even more.  So we each had a room
at El Regente, three stars, right on the Gran Via, in the middle
of everything.
The scene at the Regente had been this:
  "Two single rooms, please..."
  "We do not have single rooms.  We have double rooms."
  "Oh, well, then one double room, please, for two people."
  "No, se~nor, we do not have double rooms for two people. We
    have double rooms for one person."
  "No single rooms for one person?"
  "No, se~nor, double rooms, but only for one person."
  "Oh, well, two double rooms, each for one person."
  "Si, se~nor."
So, we each got a very nice room, $50 a night, on the Gran Via.
Or, Rodney's room was on the Gran Via.  -ggs' room is another
--ggs (one single-double, please...  or one double-single....
       es que no <importa>.)

Subject:      VOTPAB4

My room opened onto an inner cortyard, or sort of enclosed
alley.  After getting a good look at Rodney's room, with its
balcony over the Gran Via, with a tremendous view of the long
line of 19th century hotels on the street and all the people
and traffic and noise, I just had to have one too.  So, I went
down to the desk and the scene was this:
  "I'm in room 428.  Do you perhaps have a room that overlooks
   the street?"
  "You don't have a room with a view of the street?"
  "No. It is not possible."
  "You mean, there is *no* other room available?"
  So, I just stood there.  For a long time.  I just stood there.
  After about three minutes, the other desk clerk came over and
tapped the guy on the shoulder and beckoned him to the other desk.
Then he motioned me to follow him.  We went upstairs and he moved
me from 428 to 430, with a great balcony and view of the street.
I said.....:
   "Muchas gracias."
He said....:
--ggs  ("You haven't *used* the room, have you?")

Subject:      VOTPAB5

So, Rodney needed to cash some money and I had gotten 120
pesetas to the dollar instead of 134 at one of those commercial
change-your-dollars things on the street, so he wanted to go to
a bank.  We both, having had many years of experience in Spain,
thought it would be a <pedazo de torta>....  WRONG.  The first
bank said (after seeing him stand in line for twenty minutes):
"No, se~nor, we do not change money.  We are a branch.  You must
go to the main office to do that."  The second, after twenty-five
minutes in line, said:  "We do not take travellers... we only take
cash."  So we go to the third, a small bank with *no* *one* inside,
and with one of those revolving doors with a button you push, and
step inside, and it advances only enough spaces to get you through
the door.  Rodney is very <rolypoly>, and barely could squeeze
through.  I zipped through with only mild anxiety....
  The woman behind us got halfway through, the door froze and a
computerized voice invormed her that she was wearing too much
metal jewelry,then reversed and spewed her onto the sidewalk
outside.  I felt very safe in this bank.
  Rodney presented the checks, which he had already signed at
the other bank, had to sign again, then the very young man at
the counter began to fill out his forms.  Rodney looked at
me confidently, and I said:  "You *dont* have the money yet."
I was right.
  Young man fills out forms, then gets up and goes to the back
  office, then returns and fills out more forms, then goes to
  the back office.  Rodney gets impatient, makes some joke
  with me about this being a *major* *operation*, we laugh, then
  we decide to share this joke about the inefficiency of the
  institution with this employee.  Rodney says:
    "Pues, *hombre*!  This is a major operation, right?"
    Young man smiles broadly and says:  "This is my first day.  I
    have to be sure I get everything right."  Then he gets up and
    goes back to other office again.  Rodney's checks are still
    lying uncashed on the counter.
 When he returns, this conversation:
   "Uh,  se~nor, what *eeesss* the problem?"
   "My boss is on the phone.  I have to wait for him to get off."
   "Never mind, just give me my checks back and I'll go somewhere
   "No no no... it will just be a moment." (Obviously worried about
   the evaluation he is going to receive on this, his first transac
   tion of his first day.)
   "Just give me my checks!"
   "It will only be a moment, sir...." Moving toward the back, checks
   in hand....
   "Give me my checks!!!!"
   "Si, se~nor."
 Next bank, the Banco de Madrid, we walk in, right up to window, and
 have our pesetas in two minutes.  No probleeem.  No probleeem.
 --ggs (<... you have been waiting in the wrong line, se~nor>)