Day 1: Travels to Valencia Spain

Originally posted March 2018

I lost a hard drive on an old server and I am want to recreate the Valencia posts as if they were original. So now, after I have found my journals and photos, I will post all days of my travel in Valencia Spain as close to the same as possible. It is VITAL to make a journal each day. Make notes and photos in one folder for each day. This way they are memories that will last forever. You will be happy you did. I am.

Departing Newport News for Valencia

This post will end getting photographs and editing before it is truly done.
I will provide two outputs for each day in the end. One will be long, one will be short.
I will provide links to both. At first, it will be the long posts, so I do not forget anything.

The Incredible Journey to Valencia, Spain Day One – March 5th 2018.

I woke near 0800. I had most things in order, but I attended to a few things before I had to depart.

I have not flown in quite some time. I think I should have done a few flights in the USA vice diving into a European vacation. My bags consist of a rolling bag that holds all the clothing for two weeks, and some small gifts for a friend who resides in Spain. That bag weighs close to 35 pounds, and its a bit heavy, but not overly so for a 12 day trip. The second bag is a rolling laptop bag which has an upper end laptop in it and a backpack. The laptop bag has wheels so it rolls along quite nicely. When I have to pick it up, I think it weighs close to 10 pounds. The most difficult of the three bags will be the backpack. I knew it would be best to throw in the Canon Camera, cables, all accessories like batteries, power cords. My personal laptop will be in this since I was bringing two laptops. So most of the techie things exist in the backpack. I grunted when I picked the backpack up. Full, it weighed close to 25 pounds. It doesn’t seem like alot, but in a long haul the weight may surely eat at my endurance.

My son was up and able to take me to the local airport. I arrived at the airport about one hour before my flight. The weather was mostly sunny, with temeratures hovering in the mid 50’s. There was still some breeze, the after a effects of a northeaster storm that pushed up the coast March 2nd 2018 and canceled thousands of flights along the east coast – including mine. That is why I am fliying today.

I asked my son if he could drop me off at the curb so I could at least get the luggage out, go to the check in counter, and getting that all started. He had no problem with it and parked the car and met me at the check in counter for the airlines.

I checked in the rolling clothing bag, and carried the other two towards the TSA gate. Since I have not flown in quite some time, I wasn’t absolutely sure what I could take or not take. I tried doing some research on the internet for specific items both for USA and international flights and got some answers, but not alot. I managed to get through TSA and I could look back and see my son waiting for me to give him the thumbs up. It took probably 10 minutes for me to dig everything out. Two laptops, the shoes, the belt, phone, keys, food, and everything else. Then, putting it all back and making it fit and not slide is always an event. But, everything went fine.

When we boarded, and I found my seat, I sat next to a lady from Maine. She came down to see her daughter who just had a third child. We talked about the trips and small talk. A Lady from Smithsfield Virginia named Leia I believe, who was on the flight as well, and asked some questions about a train leaving Madrid. I told her I did limited research on Madrid, and focused on my ultimate destination – Valencia Spain.

The Flight to Philadelphia was short and arrived in Philadelphia on time. The Philadelphia International airport is quite massive, but they do offer shuttle services and such. But, once I was on the ground in Philadelphia, I knew I had a long layover, close to six hours. Prior to the trip, I did some research on the places to eat within the airport. I will eventually get there. Now to spend some time walking and trying to be preoccupied six hours in the airport.

Wall of History in Philadelphia International Airport
Wall of History in Philadelphia International Airport

The flight into Philadelphia landed in the F termainal where most smaller commuter planes land. Looking at my flight schedule, I noticed that I was flying out of Terminal A. I groaned. I haven’t carried to much weight on my fragile back, so my immediate comment to myself was – this is going to leave some pain. I planned for some pain, I typically take Alleve 12 hour gel pills in preparation for this, but I know I will be uncomfortable at the destination of my lovely adventure, Valencia, Spain.

I opened up my notebook with some research notes and refreshed my brain as to what gates some of the wonderful food existed. I started walking in Philadelphia International airport, leaving gate F and ultimately ending in Terminal A. I kept my eyes wide open and looked at all the airport had to offer. News Stands, Burgers, Asian food, Shoe care stand, Victoria Secrets,….. wait, what? Hehehe. Yes in the Philadelphia airport is a smaller version of Victoria Secrets. I pulled out the phone and shot a photo the Victoria Secrets banner and sent it to a friend, asking her if she wanted anything from the shop. She says, OK. I ask, well, what do you want? She laughs and says she was joking. OK fine. Moving onward !

Victoria Secrets in Philadelphia International Airport
Victoria Secrets in Philadelphia International Airport

I stopped at a Fork in one the many paths I can choose, and I notice a USO sign on the wall. Oh My God. This means I can sit down in a safer environment and have some sort of rest, relaxation and maybe a small drink on the house? I decided to head that way. The USO is downstairs, below the main path of places to eat and shop. It’s close to an Irish Pub, but the name escapes me. If I can remember to come back to this post, I’ll add the info here.

Walking down the stairs, down the corridor and to the right is a USO check in area. Many people sat around and welcomed me and praised me for my years of service. Everything was explained to me about the establishment. One area holds a food area, and the other area down the hall has chairs for rest and relaxation, with board games and even a business center with the lights pretty well dimmed down. The back room has some game consoles and such. The Rest and relaxtion room (R&R room) itself has quite a selection of comfy chairs to take a burden off my feet. I stayed within the R&R room in the USO until it was about an hour and a half before my flight. As I headed out, I stoped and thanked everyone that was staff for the hospitality they offered. I then went in search my goal, a good meal from an establishment in Philadelphia International airport.

Prior to the trip, I did some research on the places to eat within the airport. I seen two places. One was a pizza establishment, Aldo Lamemberti Trattoria and the other was a sit down italian style place which was named Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar. What Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar offered was no where near what most call a typical small portioned, cold and nasty airport food. Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar food was actually really good and a decent sized portion. I highly recommend Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar located near gate C3/C6 in the Philadelphia International airport.

Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar Philadelphia International Airport
Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar Philadelphia International Airport

My waitress was a huge help. I wanted to pay cash, so with all things chosen, I paid her in advance and waited for the meal to come. It came out pretty fast. I managed to eat 90% of it and drink something I grabbed from the USO and the bill came up to near 18 dollars. I gave the waitress $25.00 and collected my items and started heading towards my destination gate going to Madrid.

I looked at my clock. It was close to an hour before the flight and I could see the staff check in people moving around quite quickly as if they were ready to start bording. Sure enough, they actually started pretty early. I asked the staff at the gate if military could board after priority people and I was given a thank you a nod and I was entering the aircraft.

The aircraft that carried me to Madrid Spain
The aircraft that carried me to Madrid Spain

On the 4th I actually changed my seat assignment to get a wee bit close to the front of the aircraft. I seen an aisle seat, within the four seat section which put me 5 rows from the first row in the economy seats. I put my bags away, sit down, and get a bit comfy when I hear the voice of someone. I look up and its the Lady from Smithsfield Virginia named Leia I believe. When almost everyone was in their seats, I noticed the aircraft at BEST was partially full. Now I understand why they limit flights like this. They’d go broke if they had to fly with the aircraft at 25% capacity. Leia and I ended up chatting some. I also tried to explain the usage of the Google Translate app that offers text translation along with voice – it even allows you to hold a conversation and will translate everything it hears.

Soon after the conversation with Leia, I noticed the flight was ready to go. We pulled out of the gate and got ready to take off. The take off was a bit turbulent, but nothing overly horrifying. At this point, I looked at my watch. I tried avoiding calculating how long this trip was going to take, but I had all night to think about it.

I was up at 0800 on the morning of March 5th. I knew if all went well, I would be landing in Valencia, Spain on March 6th at approximately 1300. I had to account for delays with the flights leaving late or bad weather and everything included. Add in the fact that customs/immigration could take some time too. I told myself, all in all – I think arrival in my room in Valencia Spain at 1600 on March 6 is an obtainable goal. So, that’s a total of 32…… wait ! I have to recalculate a bit. The departure time was in USA time and the arrival time was in Spainish time. So I took the total hours and subtracted the 6 hours difference. WHEW, its “ONLY” 26 hours of travel.

I don’t want to point fingers or get into all the antics of people do when flying overseas or for extremely long flights. In the past I have seen my share of this. The flight was long, as expected. Total distance from Philadelphia to Madrid was nearly 3700 miles. The airlines gave us dinner near 1800 and then about 2000 they dimmed the lights way down. Leia was extremely lucky. She had no one in the row of 4 seats and decided to get some well deserved rest. I stayed in my assigned seat, and tried to get as comfortable as I could. There was a brief period where I almost fell asleep, but we ran into a slight patch of turbulence that lasted 15 minutes, and I wasn’t able to get any sleep the entire night. That is OK though, since the night before flying, I forced myself to sleep as many hours as I could stand. I felt I was rested enough to make it all the way. Believe me, I had my doubts along the way saying, you know even after I get to madrid, I still have ANOTHER five hours before I am standing in Valencia, Spain.

Morning comes and alot of drowsy people and waking up. The flight eventually lands in Madrid. I honestly believe it landed a few minutes early. I grabbed my bags and headed out the plane walking within earshot of Leia as she explained catching up to college girls who were headed in the general area she was. This is where Leia actually offered her name in this story and it was done so as we were walking towards immigration / customs with a lot of noise and announcements going on. I see a Iberia counter and I decide to stop. I thought for a second, I’d end up losing Leia by doing this, but she may read about this post on my trip to Valencia. I hope her travels within Spain are awesome and her trip back to Smithfield is fast and safe as well.

I had my questions answered about the flight from Madrid to Valencia and I started to move towards Immigration. I was honestly surprised to see over 10 immigration gates open. Each line ended up having about 25 people in them, and the process only took 10-15 minutes. I told the officer I was headed to Valencia for a 2 week vacation and I would go back to the USA. He was pleased with the answer, and smacked a passport stamp within my Passport pages.

Through Immigration and looking for the K gates. It took about 15 minutes or so to navigate around to the right area, which included another TSA style baggage screening. OK FINE. This was pretty much the same thing, no issues, repacked a little slower and eventually found the K gates.

The four hour delay in Madrid went by quite fast, I was surprised. gate information in Madrid is much different than what I am used to in the states. The gates aren’t listed until an hour before your departure. When it was down to one hour, I looked for the gate number and headed that way. It was boarding passengers for a flight to “OPORTO”, or Portugal. I tried to approach the person and ask if the next flight was going to……. She says, right now I talk of Oporto! Not of Valencia. Oporto. OK Fine, I guess she had a bad day. hehehe.

The intricate ceiling at Madrid Airport
The intricate ceiling at Madrid Airport

The flight shows up on the monitors and I head that way. I look at the time and its pretty close to departure time and we haven’t even boarded yet. It was amazing to see how fast the staff changed check in crews, changed the sign and started checking in passengers for the flight to Valencia. It moved so quickly, I didnt even see the plane taxi up to the gate. Once I was on my way to board, instead of a boarding area directly into the plane, we had to go down some stairs and walked across the street onto the tarmac and boarded a plane that might have held about 30 or so people.

They noticed me with two bags, and they wanted to check the bag, until I ended showing them all, the laptop bag actually has a laptop in it. Once i boarded the aircraft headed to Valencia, I immediately noticed the over head bins were really small compared to most others I have flown. In the end, the seat was found, and baggage stored and we were on our way.

The Captain said it would have 45 minutes to get to Valenica from Madrid, but honestly, it felt like I was shot out of a cannon. Whatever time was lost when the madrid flight shared the gate, was easily made up. I landed in Valencia with some sort of expectation to go through a customs style service where they ask if I had anything to declare or were going to open up bags on a whim, but there was none of that. I simply departed the smaller plan on the tarmac, climbed down the really really skinny staircase, got on the tarmac and waled inside Valencia airport. I followed signs to the baggage claim which wasn’t difficult at all.

My first thought was – I’d be quite impressed IF my only checked bag was with me on that flight. I looked and seen my bag coming, and all I could do is shake my head. After a long adventure, my feet and all my luggage are with me.

I had booked a taxi though the hotel and I did not see anyone holding a sign with my name on it near the luggage claim area or immediately outside the area. I stood around for a bit but there was nobody but passengers and people greeting them. I followed the signs to where the taxi’s were stationed and I decided to go for it. I knew there would be a slight language barrier, but the man driving the taxi knew where I was headed. He packed up the bags and allowed me to sit in front with him, and He was playing some United States home grown jazz and blues. He spoke very broken English at best, and the ride was enjoyable. I turned on Google Maps to see the route he was taken, and it was a pretty direct route. He handed me a map for free which was English and Spanish, about the Festivals that are happening in Valencia and in General, all through Spain. We found the hotel, pulled my bags. The fare was 21 Euro, but he enlightened me on some areas of the city as we drove, that I ended up giving him 30 Euro for his hospitality. He helped take the bags to the check in counter, and I shook his hand and thanked him.

From the Hotel room windows the main street is to the left
From the Hotel room windows the main street is to the left

Check in at the hotel was fast and easy. I went upstairs to my room, hauling the three bags full for the last time at least until the end of the vacation. It was close to 1530, and all I wanted to do was check the electronics for any damage, unpack some of the clothing to get some wrinkles out and get some sleep.

Valencia Spain rooftop view from hotel room
Valencia Spain rooftop view from hotel room

So thats’s part one of the Incredible adventures to Valencia Spain. This post will probably by far be the longest, but time will tell. Stand by for more posts and photos as I navigate my way though Valencia Spain.