Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nice Arrival

My cab driver looked like Big Pussy from The Sopranos and he dropped a F-bomb once every six words. It took about an hour to get to the airport. I was there by 4pm after leaving JFK only seven hours earlier after catching a red eye from Las Vegas. I was about to board another red eye, this time to Europe.

Shecky booked me on Iberian airlines because it was the least expensive out of the other options on Expedia. I had a layover in Madrid before heading through to Nice. I knew that it would be a tough flight especially because I was super tired. I loaded up on supplies at Hudson News such as a bottle of water, iced tea, chocolate, an energy bar, and gum. I also bought the baseball preview issue from Sports Illustrated and the latest issue of Premiere, the one with Will Ferrell on the cover.

At my gate, I sat next to a few Brits and I actually had a conversation about cricket, particularly the coach who got whacked. I never thought I'd be pontificating about cricket, but there I was talking smack well enough that I impressed the Brits. All that cricket watching on Australian TV paid off.

As I boarded my flight, I noticed that there were dozens of hot Spanish women all over the cabin. I was on a Spanish airline after all and I prayed that I was seated next to one of them. No such luck. I was in the middle section on the aisle. There was an empty seat next to me and on the other side of the middle four seats was a businessman. The row in front of me was filled with a Hasidic family with three kids. Five people in four seats, including a baby who cried incessantly the first two hours.

As I read SI, I had thoughts of rolling up the magazine and smacking the baby on the forehead to make him stop crying. We had not even left the gate and I was ready to lock the baby in the bathroom. That's what I get for flying coach. I came up with a splendid idea of having an infant and child free airline.

When I stepped onto the plane, I showed the stewardess my ticket stub with my seat 24C. She told me how to get there... in Spanish. That would be the beginning of an odd experience for the entire flight. The Spanish flight attendants assumed that I was from Spain. I did my best to try to pull it off. I'd say things like, "Agua por favor."

When they served dinner, the choices were chicken or beef. I piped up, "Pollo por favor."

Dinner was chicken curry with white rice and spinach. I skipped the spinach. They gave me two rolls with cheese and I nibbled at the salad, which also contained fresh mozzarella. Dessert was a cheesecake in order to complete the cheese theme.

The baby in front of me screamed and screamed. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, I popped a Vicodin and listened to a Dead bootleg on my iPod. I tried to fall asleep but it didn't work. I popped a second Vike after dinner and passed out for a half hour before one of the kids in front of me grabbed my leg from underneath the seat. They had been fooling around there and I thought about kicking one of the rugrats in the face for waking me up. They also bothered the lonely businessman in my row. He did his best to ignore them as he worked through the NY Times crossword puzzle.

The worst part of the flight was when the baby shit itself and the parents waited twenty-five minutes (I kept time) to change the diaper.

I watched the end of the awful Ben Stiller flick Night at the Museum before I polished off both magazines that I bought. I frantically scribbled down a few notes about the crying baby and the stewardesses talking to me in Spanish.

The flight was 6.5 hours in all and an hour before we reached Madrid, they served breakfast. I barely touched my stale croissant. My plane arrived a few minutes early and I quickly rushed off the plane and wandered around Madrid airport before I cleared Spanish customs and headed to the gate for my flight to Nice. That would be the 13th flight that I took so far in 2007.

I had about two hours to kill and bought some bottled water with the few Euros I had leftover from my trip to Amsterdam last November with Nicky. I found a wifi hotspot and checked email. I also chatted with Nicky on Skype for a few minutes. That's an amazing feature for me when I'm traveling overseas. I hooked it up for work purposes but it was nice to chat with Nicky and she let me bitch about another flight with a crying baby.

The weather in Madrid was rainy and my flight to Nice was delayed. It was a commuter airline or puddle jumper that seated 24 people. We had to walk out to the tarmac to board the flight. They had two devastatingly attractive stewardesses wearing red and blue uniforms, scarves, and gloves. The handed out copies of the newspaper... Le Pais and Le Monde. They served OJ in glasses and I passed out after takeoff. I was awoken by the hotter of the two just before touchdown in Nice. I had my iPod on and she wanted me to turn it off. I complied then peeked out the window to see the amazing coastline of the French Riviera as we landed in Nice. The plane also stopped short of the terminal and we deplaned on the tarmac. On Sunday I was in Las Vegas and I finally arrived in France extremely groggy after three flights, two Vicodins, and enduring a baby who shit their pants.

I was quizzed by French customs but they didn't search my bags. They let me through and I headed to the helicopter info booth to figure out the best way to get to Monte Carlo. Right now, I'm sitting in baggage claim at Nice airport waiting for Shronk's flight to arrive before we head to our hotel in Monte Carlo.

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