I had a rather uneventful return to Barcelona on Wednesday and Thursday. The flight arrived in Frankfurt a half-hour early, which was a good thing. It took an hour to get to my flight to Barcelona even though the gate was in the same terminal. The layover was an hour and that clearly is not enough time for going through passport control, check-in and security. German security seems the most thorough I have encountered, more so than in the US. (I haven’t been to Israel, which reportedly has the most intensive airport security in the world.)
Passport control was a bit amusing. The agent was a woman and I told her that I was in transit to Barcelona. She said that she could tell because I had a “red nose”. I replied that, no, it was the result of being in California. She laughed a little. She mentioned that it was cold, 0°C (I was not wearing a jacket or sweater, just a polo shirt.) I said it was not that cold, and it was actually warmer, 3°C outside. That was probably the real reason my nose looked “red”. But I know enough not to criticize a country while going through control.
Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humor?
I reached Barcelona and the chaos that is the local train system while the AVE track is being completed to the main station, Sants. I only had to wait a few minutes before the free bus to Sants took off. Traffic reminded me of the Bay Area, even though this was at 19:00 and in the “light” traffic direction for that time.
Speaking of high-speed trains, on July 2006 a trainset Siemens Velaro (AVE S-103) reached the highest top speed ever in Spain: 403.7 km/h (251 mph). This is a world record for unmodified commercial service trainsets, as the earlier TGV and ICE records were achieved with specially modified and shortened trainsets, and the Shinkansen (443 km/h, 1996) record was for a test (non-commercial) trainset.
I reached El Masnou just before 20:00 and immediately went to my homeowner’s meeting, which was scheduled to start at 19:30. At the administrator’s office they told me that there had been no meeting as I was the only person to show up! I remarked that I had to come 10,000 km while the other owners only had to walk a little more than 10 m. They laughed. (Before leaving for the US, I had delegated my next-door neighbor as my representative and left a note as to not knowing when I would be able to arrive.)
The next day I received a letter from the administrator concerning the meeting that didn’t happen. It was in català, so I had Ruben translate for me. Unbeknownst to me my next-door neighbor had delegated the administrator as her representative. So with two of the three votes, the administrator re-elected me as president of the homeowner’s association for next year. I found that a little surprising as I am the only immigrant in the building. Then again, the attitude towards immigration is a bit different here than in the US these days.