Segovia (not Johannesburg)

November 20, 2005 — 4 Comments

Pews, Catedral
Originally uploaded by Jeff Carlson.

Every large trip, I’m learning, includes an adventure. Now, you’d think that every trip is an adventure in itself, but that assumes you’ll arrive at your destination – sorry, you’re planned destination – on time. But that’s not really adventure, because you know to a certain degree what to expect. I’m talking about true adventure, the kind where you find yourself in a town that you previously didn’t know existed, for longer than you expected, and nothing to do about it but roll along with the flow.

For us, part of the adventure is getting out of Madrid. We were supposed to get into the city at about 8:30 am, spend the night, and fly out the next night (actually 12:30 am). When we arrived at the airport, we learned that our flight was delayed. Worse, it was oversold and we couldn’t even get on the delayed flight! So, we got confirmed reservations for the following night’s 12:30 am flight. After many hours of waiting, Iberia airlines put us onto buses to provide accommodation for the night. Unfortunately, ours was one of maybe five aircraft that were oversold or delayed, so there were hundreds of people to take care of. And for us, that meant we were shipped to a hotel in Segovia, one and a half hours away from Madrid!

Of course, we didn’t learn this until we were there. Arriving at a hotel around 1:30 am, our next news was that the airline was sending a return bus at 6 am for everyone, not matter when you were leaving. Our question became: take the provided bus that guarantees transit back to the airport? That option meant staying at the airport watching our large amount of luggage all day. Instead, we broke free of Iberia’s plans and adventured in Segovia, which turns out to be a charming town with a Roman aqueduct, cathedral, and castle. Our day of miserable travel turned into a day of sightseeing, photo-taking, and fun.

The downside was that we had to provide our own transportation back to Madrid. So, after seeing the city, Bob and I took two taxis from downtown Segovia to our hotel to fetch the luggage (yes, it takes two cabs, partially because the cars are smaller here, but also because we’re schlepping something like 11 suitcases; in our defense, we’re bringing valuable and hard-to-find resources (such as maple syrup!) to family in South Africa who can’t get them normally). Kim and Patty walked to the estacion de autobuses and met Bob and I and the luggage there. We boarded the 5 p.m. bus to Madrid, which cost only about 6 euros per person. In Madrid, we hailed two more taxis to get us to the airport. If we had less luggage, we could have taken the metro train, but that was impossible.

Finally arriving, once again, at the Iberia desk we learned to our exhausted amusement: the flight was delayed… until 8:30 tomorrow morning. Back to a hotel, only this time I got their guarantee that we would be in Madrid, a relatively short distance away.

So, we’re back here (which is how I have Internet access again), at a hotel that turns out to be only a few blocks from where the Segovia-to-Madrid bus dropped us off and we hailed taxis to the airport. Iberia is sending a bus to fetch us all (there are a few dozen fellow travel stragglers) this morning at about 7 a.m.

Good night, and pray to the travel gods on our behalf (and think twice about Iberia). Latest photos are here.

4 responses to Segovia (not Johannesburg)

  1. 

    I found Iberia difficult as well, though obviously to the same degree you have. Our flight from Madrid to London was the least comfortable I’ve ever been on a 737-sized airplane. This was due in part to the piped in music, which was on what seemed to be a 90 second loop. The seats were bad too.

  2. 

    should read “obviously not”, obviously.

  3. 

    Good night, and good luck…

  4. 

    I agree regarding Iberia Airlines. I only had a 6 hour delay in London, but their fleet is so old that there was no replacement for the battery that had failed any closer to London than Madrid. They’re also not very big on the provision of information to their customers. I’m glad you guys were able to get in some sight-seeing though!

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