Up to Spain: Camino de Santiago Trip, 2020 main page

Saturday May 14: Madrid

Epilogue: Statistics

Sunday May 15: Return Home

Airport Hoops

We got up at 7:15, I took a quick shower, and we went down for a good breakfast. The previous day, I noticed an omelet station, but it had been too late to take advantage of it. This time, I did.

After breakfast, we went up to our room and did a flurry of packing--what to put in our carry-on packs, and what to put in our checked baggage. Mine was heavier, as it had been on the way out, but still below the limit. This time I wore my sneakers and packed my boots.

We checked out of the hotel and paid the dinner bills. We asked for a taxi to the airport. I thought that they would have to call one, and then we would wait for it to arrive, but there was one waiting outside, just waiting for someone like us to come along. It turns out that it is a flat 30 Euro fee to the airport. That is a good way to do it, because I could make sure that I had 30 cash left, and I wouldn't get to the airport and find that for whatever reason it was 33, and I would be short.

It was a bit strange at the airport. There were maybe 100 numbered check-in windows. The first batch we went to seemed to have no entrance, so I asked an attendant. She said to go to 53 to 57. We went down there, but the attendant said to go to 72 to 75 (numbers only approximate). I was joking to Sam that they were going to keep sending us further and further down the airport, until we fell over the edge.

At the 70's, there was a sign saying that we needed to fill out some form before boarding, and gave a QR code. I spent some stressful time trying to get my phone to load the form, but with Sam's help eventually got it filled out. They never asked for it (unless they are going to check it in the US). (They didn't.)

To continue the current theme (strangeness), an attendant opened the barricade and directed us and about 8-10 people ahead of us to go over to the 80's. I thought that they were perhaps closing the 70's, but after we got to the 80's, they closed the barricade behind us, and when people showed up at the 70's, they stayed there. I'm not exactly sure what happened.

They checked our passports, asked where we were headed to, and checked our covid test papers. (I saw at another window, a woman showing the cell phone version, but I think paper was easier.) She tagged our baggage, gave us our boarding passes, and it looked like things were OK.

We still had a host of airport hoops to jump through however.

We next went through security, which was easier than in the US. There was only a metal detector, and we didn't have to take off our shoes. Then we had to take the train to the satellite terminal. The train was definitely not socially distanced. We were packed in like sardines.

The next stop was passport control. This was a bit confusing. There was a big area full of people, and a single line bypassing that area. I thought that it was normal versus some sort of expedited thing. Fortunately, before too long, I realized that the big mob was for EU passports, and the single short line was for all other passports, although I thought this was strange.

It turns out that the single fast line bypasses the EU area, turns a corner, and opens into an even bigger people maze. The woman in front of us was sort of hosed. Her plane was leaving in about 10-15 minutes, and there was no way she would get through the line in time. She asked a security guard, but he seemed to say "nothing I can do". She started asking people if she could cut through because her plane was almost ready to leave, and we never saw her again.

We had plenty of time, so we weren't stressed out. We eventually got to the end, got our passports stamped by a very bored-looking woman, and then went on to the next hoop.

We found our flight on the boards, and our gate turns out to be at the very end of the concourse. We kept going further and further, and it kept saying "keep going". At any moment, I expected there to be enhanced US-style security. We came to one final hoop, and waited in line for our time with the attendant, but they were only checking (again) our Covid test results.

Now we are stuck in this tiny end of the concourse, with no restaurants, and no money changers. Knowing what I now know, I would have waited in the main concourse before going through the final check.

We had about an hour and a half before boarding, which I figured was about right. We could have had some significant delays and still gotten to the gate with time to spare.

 - -

The flight back was unremarkable. I watched 2 1/2 movies.

When we landed, we got into the standard large people-maze ahead of passport control. Then there was a bunch more waiting. There was a sign saying that we should have all necessary documents ready, but since it didn't list what these documents were, the sign wasn't terribly useful.

At the passport station, they asked the usual questions: "Where did you come from?" "How long were you there?" "Purpose of trip?" There was some sort of fingerprint scanner, but they didn't ask either of us to us it. They took a photo of me, and I'm not sure if they got one of Sam or not.

By the time we got to the baggage claim, our bags were already on the carousel. I expected that we would have to go through a customs station and say that we had nothing to declare, but when we turned the corner on the way out, we found that we were outside, and that all of the necessary hoops had been jumped through.

Then it was just a matter of telling Amy, who was waiting in the cell-phone lot, that we were out, and then trying to find her among a zillion cars waiting outside.

Up to Spain: Camino de Santiago Trip, 2020 main page

Saturday May 14: Madrid

Epilogue: Statistics