far too much writing, far too many photos

Man, it feels good to be back in Madrid again.

Flew out of Boston last night, arrived at Heathrow around 7 this morning after a zippy 5-1/2 hour flight, thanks to an enthusiastic tailwind. Spent 2-1/2 hours of sheer bliss in Heathrow, then another nearly 2-1/2 hours of further flying. The payoff being spectacular June weather when all the mileage was done.

June weather. In April. Ahhhhhhhhh!

Within 30 minutes of arriving, I spotted numerous women wearing unbelievably tight pants (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The tightest pants I’ve seen since, well, my last time here (January through March). They’re fairly common in this part of the world, them tight pants.

And here’s something I’m not sure I noticed before, having nothing to do with tight pants: the Spanish sunlight is not golden during the warm season -– it’s white. White, and strikingly different from the light back in the States, or at least from what I know of the eastern U.S.

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Two items from the cover of a recent issue of Tattler magazine spied on British Airways flight 214 early this morning:
– How To Spot A Gold Digger
– Beauty Special – Look Great Naked

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As I waited on line to go through security at Burlington Airport two to three weeks back, I overheard a married couple in conversation with a woman apparently traveling with the couple. The woman asked what Heathrow was like, mentioning that it was an example of a place she’s seen featured in many books and movies yet had never actually seen in 3-D. The she of the couple replied, “It’s just like any other airport. You could be in any airport in the world.” An easy, glib answer, one many people might agree with, and granted there’s some homogenization in most airports we pass through. But to say that Heathrow is no different from any other airport in the world is like saying the Grand Canyon is no different from any other hole in the ground. Forget things like the outrageously complex international mix (and the sheer number) of travelers who pass through, not to mention the languages and accents you hear from travelers and airport employees. Forget the weather and the quality of the light you encounter when you look outside. Just the size of it alone puts it in a class with very few airports in the world.

Our plane this morning parked away from the terminals, buses took us to Terminal 4. I had to take a further, surprisingly long, circuitous bus ride to Terminal 1. During the ride, an exasperated American woman commented to her husband, “This airport is bigger than Kansas.” An overexaggeration, but I get what she meant.

Found my way upstairs at Terminal 1, one of the first sights was a smokers’ lounge planted in the middle of a large seating area, separated off by floor-to-ceiling walls of thick, clear glass or plastic. The air within appeared impressively dense and polluted, spilling out the entrance to unleash a dubious perfume for a good 20, 25 feet around.

Down the hallway, the space opened up into an equally impressive commercial arcade — a long, upscale shopping mall — turning a transit point into a sophisticated set-up designed to separate traveler from money. The selection of shops now doing business in Terminal 1 includes:
– Faxcessory – The Filofax Specialist
– The Cigar House
– Pink
– The Beauty Centre
– Caviar House
– Glorious Britain
– “Est Est Est – Ristorante, Pizzeria & Caffe, Bar”
– Harrods
– The Disney Store
– World of Whiskies (I am not making that one up)
– Etc., etc., etc.

Also, a shoeshine joint whose sign read:
Hodgson’s
“Fly ‘n’ Shine”
Heathrow
Shoe Shine
First Class Feet
Only
£2.20

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Hmmm. Lack of sleep is suddenly catching up with me. Time to chill.

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