My last conversation of the night was that the luggage office opened at eight AM. So did we. But I couldn’t get Skye to behave until an hour later. Maybe Skype doesn’t like the rain. The rain in Spain was not on the plain, it was on Barcelona. With a vengeance!
The travel insurance agent sent me an e-mail. The Barcelona luggage department delivered my luggage yesterday. Hmmm. Not to me.
Carli and I are dressed and ready, we planned to go to the airport and fetch the damned bag ourselves. The lady at the luggage department informed me the bag had been accepted by my hotel. I advised them I’m not staying at a hotel. They read me the address where the luggage was delivered. Not my address, but just down the street. She insists it’s the address I gave them to deliver it. I look at the piece of paper with the address I had handed to the agent. I was so tired I wasn’t about to trust my crappy Spanish. Not the same address. I think about it a moment, not worth the fight. “Tell me where the luggage is and I’ll get it myself!” By now I’m shouting over the phone. Bastards! They screwed up our entire first day here!!
Carli and I are on a mission to get the bloody bag. It’s less than two blocks away, we are at 442 and, hopefully, the suitcase is languishing and lonely at 422, at least according to Iberia.
When we get there, it’s not a hotel, at least not visibly. The door is open to the lobby and it looks like a regular apartment house. We go in and I find the concierge. In my bad Spanish I ask if he has a suitcase that might have been delivered yesterday. He didn’t work yesterday. Sunday.
Then he looks like the proverbial light went on over his head and he says, “Casa Billy!”
Carli and I look at each other. No idea what he’s talking about. We go outside and look at the bell. Sure enough, third floor, door two—same as ours down the street—is Casa Billy.
The concierge calls and soon the elevator comes down and in the rapid Spanish that ensues I realize my suitcase is here. Billy and his partner run a guest house with sixteen rooms on several floors in the building.
Billy is a gregarious and charming American, or Canadian. Either one, he’s nice!
“Yes, I have your bag. If it had been an Indian or Pakistani or Middle East, I wouldn’t have been so fast to accept it. Who knows what might be in it. But an American. From California. I took it in and have been trying to reach you.” By now I’m close to fainting with joy. Do you think he’d mind a sloppy soul kiss? Yeah, maybe. I refrain.
He continues, “I sent you an e-mail and left a message on your telephone to let you know I have the case for you.”
Little did he know that I’d canceled that particular e-mail last week and the phone number was my California cell packed in my suitcase that doesn’t work in Spain. His intentions were the best!
“Come on upstairs and you can have it.”
We squeeze into the small antique elevator and go up to the third floor and into another world, another century. The floor is marble. The ceilings replete with molding from the end of the 19th century. Gilt is in evidence; a lot. Fresh flowers, rococo furnishings, oil paintings from the romantic era, lace tablecloths, everything magical and wonderful, including my suitcase squatting in the middle of all the elegance.
Billy’s partner Joaquin pokes his head around a door and is introduced. What a great place! We sit down for a moment at a lace covered dining table with china and silver setting for two, champagne glasses, croissants on each plate. Wow! This is my idea of bed and breakfast.
Carli is entranced and looking around in wonder. She leans over and whispers to me “Do you think we can get our money back and move in here.” I want to also, but there’s no way. We’d be paying double.
We chat for a few moments and thank Billy profusely for guarding my suitcase and so kindly trying to find me. I feel like the Rock of Gibraltar has been lifted off my shoulders. We push the suitcase into the elevator and go down to the lobby. I try to tip the concierge but he won’t take anything but our thanks.
As we roll the suitcase down to the next block where our apartment is, I’m pissed off again at the thought that bloody Iberia didn’t have the courtesy to tell us where the suitcase was left in error. It would have saved us a day of sitting in the apartment waiting for it and stressing. But then again, we might not have had the pleasure of meeting Billy if it hadn’t been delivered to an address written down by a dyslexic clerk.
Our friend Yvonne is going to join us in Barcelona on Wednesday for a few days and she might be staying with Billy because we asked and he has a vacancy, so we may have the opportunity to enjoy his surroundings again.
Once back at our place, I can change clothes. And shoes. Especially shoes. I’m now dressed in grey slacks and top, nice shoes, raincoat. It’s raining as soon as we get the suitcase home. Really raining. Hard. The kind that not only rains down but also splashes up from the sidewalk.
Carli bought a map of the city on one of her peregrinations with Baby. We study it and finally figure out where we are. Right in the middle. We take off for Las Ramblas. It’s cleared and the sun looks like it might poke through. We are hopeful. After all, we have the suitcase filled with days of cruise clothes, formal blouses, gold shoes, long skirts. In other words, clothes that I usually wouldn’t be caught dead in. And would have been totally bummed to replace if the thing was lost forever.
There’s a bus stop across the street from the apartment and with a little squinting we figure out the correct number bus to take and we head off to Las Ramblas. We get off in front of Zara, a chain of men’s and women’s reasonable priced clothing for the hip modern set. Well, we’re hip and modern, at least for our age we think we are, so we head in to look around. Fun. Cool stuff. Have to come back later on when we have more time. As we leave it’s raining cats and dogs again. Slipping around the corner we slide into a tiny boutique with reasonable priced sweaters and blouses. I buy a gift for Patria. Carl tries on several blouses and they are all becoming. It’s hard to make a choice but she does.
In between raindrops we find a Basque Tapas bar and restaurant. This was one of the top things on our list of to dos.
My heart starts to beat faster. Home cooking. Soul food. My Pierre and I had a home in the Basque country for years and spent most Sundays eating tapas and drinking good Spanish rioja. Sitting at the bar, we check out the menu of tapas and order a beer and several plates of food—crab salad on toast, Spanish potato tortilla, croqueta. A big glass of beer arrives for each of us. It’s raining so hard outside everyone is pushing to get a seat.
By the time we leave the rain has stopped, that is, until we get ten feet from the restaurant when the sky opens up again. Corte Inglese is just across the street. “Come on Carli,” I yell over my shoulder, “let’s hit the department store.”
Carli’s eyes light up. “Department store? I love department stores!”
The next couple of hours we spend shopping in the cosmetics department, the shoe department, which is having a sale. OMG! Spanish shoes on sale. That accounts for at least an hour and a half.
Loaded down with shopping bags we drag across the Plaza de Catalunya in pouring rain to find our bus back home. We are drenched but unbowed. We have met the enemy and he is ours!…at least with regard to suitcase and shopping. We haven’t launched the attack on paella yet, we’re saving that for a drier day.