Thursday, July 2, 2009

Traveling to Cartaya, Spain - Sunday, a busy day

First a flashback to earlier in the trip: I had done a lot of planning
to get us to the airport. The Albano train came too late (as I
discovered on my first trip to the beach), so I planned a walk 10 min
to town/bus to Anginina/metro to Ponte Lungo/walk one block to
Tuscalona/train to Airport. This train was half price compared to the
central Termini airport train and seemed to be just as or faster than
the normal Davinci train . I had visited the stations to know where
to go. We bought the tickets, so we could hop on the train quickly.
The master plan was set.
Back to Friday:
We were being productive and washing clothes while baking dinner. The
super duper washing machine has an integrated water heater that goes
up to 200° F and spins at at least 60 RPM. So it pulls a lot of power,
and the electricity to the apartment stopped. We don't have a phone,
so I climbed the hill to the pay phone and called Andreas with an
Italian-English phrase book in my hand. No el-eth-ech-tr-ch-ta in
apartment, or something like that. He understood apartment, came over,
and flipped a hidden master switch by the time I got back.
Then he asked what time he should pick us up to go to the airport.
What about the master plan?
The car was much better, especially for luggage. I had even looked
into renting a car from the closer Campucino airport, picking up our
luggage and dropping off the car at FCO, the main airport for €50.

But still, the master plan pleads to followed. Oh well, sunk cost.
Move on. And Andreas explained the buses were inconsistent and
retardo, which turns out to mean slow and is not a slur.
Back to Sunday:
Andreas picked us up at 8 am, and we
were at the airport in 45 minutes. Security was slow, but we didn't
have to take off our shoes. A small amount of dignity is restored to
the common traveler. We flew Vueling airlines, a discount carrier. A
cheap airline - they charge for everything from luggage ($5 a pound if
you are over the 44 lb limit) to water on the plane.
We passed the weight limit, and everything went smoothly.
We arrived at Seville on time and discovered totally free carts. Not
that important, but a nice welcome. We found Jenny and Jane, who
joined us from Durham via Paris. It was very nice to-meet up with some
English speaking friends.
We headed toward the taxi stand. The driver explained we would need
two taxes for the four of us and our luggage. it would be €320 split
four ways instead of €160 to Cartaya. We hemmed and hawed and thought
of taking the 3-bus, 4-hour bus ride instead of the 1.5 hour taxi
ride. Then he told if we put the luggage on top of us, one taxi would
work. So we crammed in with 40+ lbs of luggage on our laps. I followed
along the route on the GPS, and it clocked the driver at 90 MPH at
times. The GPS was very helpful in directing the taxi driver the last
few miles. We got the keys and were amazed at how nice the apartment
with an ocean view was.
After some resting, beach time, and dinner, we decided to go exploring
by walking around town. We got lost and misunderstood the directions
to the market. We saw official looking traffic signs pointed toward
Carefour, a supermarket. It turned out the Carefour was several
kilometers outside of town and we gave up. Then Jenny remembered we
had a car here.
Here's where it got interesting. We found the car in the garage
downstairs. We clicked the electronic card to open the car and got in.
There was no ignition key slot. It turned out the electronic card
could be inserted into the dash to unlock the ignition. The gear shift
was a 6 speed manual transmission with reverse to the left of first
instead of under fifth like I am used to. I experimented and could not
get reverse to work. Oh, well we could figure out reverse later I
thought. In fact, reverse wasn't invented until 36 years after the
automobile was invented. The model-T was designed to do Tokyo-drift
style serving U-turns. Now I sometimes pull off a skidding 180° turn,
but not on purpose (these facts are from Wikipedia might not
technically be "true"). We proceeded to the gate, which started
opening toward us. I was trying to figure out the other features of
the car and didn't notice the gate heading toward us. Jenny let out a
squeal from the back seat, which brought me back to reality. Now I
need reverse! Fortunately, neutral rolled us back enough to avert
disaster. We eventually found Carefour, which was out in the country
and very large but closed for the day. No 24/7 Super Walmarts here. In
the parking lot, I tried to figure out reverse. I started to realize
that you must shift to neutral, pull up on a special part of the gear
shift, and then shift to first. First is then reverse. Shift into
neutral and then first is just first again. This is a five hour plane
ride away from intuitive, but I guess the advantage is that it would
be very hard to accidentally shift into reverse.
That's part of the adventure, we like to say.

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