Chp. 1 – Chasing The Sunrise

Sunrise

We boarded our flight at Pearson International just after 5:30PM. We were on a nine hour flight that was scheduled to land in Barcelona at 7:30 the following morning. It was the longest one I’ve ever been on but my expectations were no different than any other: we would be served a microwaved dinner a few hours after take-off while we watched a movie that we would neither see nor hear because of the light shining through the windows, the fight attendants marching up and down the aisles and my Mom turning around every three minutes to ask how the movie was. Meanwhile, those same flight attendants would be pouring glasses of water too dinky to extinguish a match and trying to sell us duty-free neck pillows, cologne, and other shit we didn’t need.

After that we would try and get a few hours of sleep, doing our best to get comfortable in very uncomfortable seats. That meant hours of rubbing shoulders with my young and oversized brother to determine who got what part of the arm rest. When we finally came close to falling asleep (the first time) screaming toddlers erupted next to us because the show that was keeping them quiet all that time had just disappeared from their far-too-bright IPad. Typical stuff for a redeye flight I think.

“You guys don’t get much rest on these flights, do you?” I asked a flight attendant while I was waiting to use the bathroom. “No,” she huffed before burying her face back in her newspaper. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when she jostled my brother awake a few hours later.

“SIR! The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign,” she exclaimed holding the unfastened belt buckle in his face like a bag of drugs she just found in his rectum. He drowsily fastened his seatbelt and fell back asleep. That was at 1AM, somewhere over the ocean.

I drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the flight, listening to music to drown out the hum of the engines. We lost the sun, I think, halfway though the first in-flight movie and found it again around the time we got our shrink-wrapped muffins. That was only a short while after we choked back the soggy salad and chicken they gave us for dinner. Besides that, the flight was painless. It was actually shorter than I expected and we had the whole morning in Barcelona before boarding the cruise ship.

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Feeding the pigeons in Barcelona
Feeding the pigeons in Barcelona

When we got there, we found that the agency onboard our ship had co-ordinated the tour for the early arrivals. Our guide was a short Spanish man who would yell every word he said and repeat it several times in case someone didn’t hear what he was saying. Whether or not we cared about the population of any one of Barcelona’s suburbs was irrelevant – he was going to make sure we heard it. He had the worst haircut I’ve ever seen, a voice like a man who’s taken one too many kicks to the groin, and a mane of white chest hair flowing out of the top of his company polo. Despite our best efforts, my brother and I simply could not stop laughing for the first five minutes of the tour.

We saw a lot of the highlights: A panoramic view of the city from the botanical gardens at its highest point, the Christopher Columbus monument and the Sagrada Familia – a massive church that has been under construction for 130 years. There were a few unexpected highlights as well; most notably, a delicious sandwich from a back alley deli with nothing more than some Spanish ham and a bit of olive oil.

After all that, they took us to the port.

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