Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 41 & 42: The Finish Line: Madrid to San Francisco

We had our last scrumptious breakfast at the hotel's buffet and paid the hotel bill well before the taxi came for us at 8:15.

On the way to the airport we passed the bull-fighting ring, a magnificent piece of architecture. When Dan expressed interest, the driver got out his smart phone and showed us video of a bull-fight he had attended recently, while driving with one hand.

We caught the KLM flight to Amsterdam at 10:20 am, which arrived at 12:55. We had a nice chat with a young Spanish carpenter who was returning to Edmonton, in Canada, after a short vacation with his wife and family.

Security at Schiphol was very tight, starting right at the entrance. We had plenty of time to catch our return flight on Delta at 5:20 pm.

We arrived at JFK in New York at 7:20 p.m., but that was about six hours after we left. We took the skytrain to a roundabout where the hotel shuttles pick up guests. It was about 9 when we arrived at the cheesy Best Western hotel where our room was booked. The lobby was crowded with people waiting to check in. When we finally got settled in our skimpy little room, Dan was ready for a bite to eat and a couple of glasses of wine, but strangely, there were no bars or eateries in the area whatsoever, even though there were 3 or 4 bustling hotels. What a wasted opportunity. Grumpily he piled in bed and was soon fast asleep.

Breakfast the next morning was a disaster, compared to our breakfasts for the previous month. Not only were the breakfast items low in quality, but also low in quantity. There was practically nothing left.

We took the shuttle back to JFK and caught the Delta flight to SFO at 11:20 am.

There was a question about how we would get home from SFO. Captain Dan was appalled by the price we paid for a taxi to the airport when we left. He wondered if we could get a neighbor kid to give us a ride instead. I said, "Let's try Heather's husband, Eric." Heather is my fitness trainer, and her husband is a driver for Lyft and Uber, which we had never tried before. We were unable to contact him by phone, so I left email and Facebook messages with both Heather and Eric with our arrival time.

Minutes after we emerged from the airport with our luggage, a small car whose curly-haired driver was waving, pulled up in front of us. Eric was revved up and chatted vivaciously all the way to our place. We paid him half of what we paid the taxi, and it was still way more than he was expecting, so that was a win-win.

The Finish Line

The journey took 42 days, 8 of which were spent in transit between countries, leaving 34 days for touring. We toured 21 museums of art, 4 royal palaces, 4 royal gardens, 2 cathedrals, 1 monastery, an aqueduct, and two public markets. That's why I called it a marathon. The marathon yielded a treasure trove of art photos that are almost as satisfying as the journey itself. If you actually followed along, congratulations! You've accomplished something, too, and picked up quite a bit about art in the process.