It’s about 7 am here in Lisbon as I start writing today’s blog entry. I’ve just awakened from 13 hours of sleep after having missed a night’s sleep the night before flying over the Atlantic.
As I wrote in my last entry, I picked up my bike and rechecked it at Atlanta airport and then hung out in the United Airlines club for a few hours until my flight left for Washington-Dulles. In Washington I had a very long wait before my flight left for Lisbon, but luckily I had a pass that got me into the Turkish Airlines club. It was an interesting experience. The free buffet was good, and there were comfortable tables and chairs. They also serve free booze, although I limited myself to two beers plus ample cups of coffee.
There was a Muslim prayer room in the club. I peaked in. There was a floor-level sink for washing one’s feet and room for one or two people to pray. Despite the fact that many of the people in the club were plainly Muslim, I saw no one enter the prayer room. One of the young women was covered from head to toe and had only a narrow slit in her veil to enable her to see.
On the plane to Lisbon, my the person sitting next to me was an Angolan boy in his early teens. We got along great, because he was a real nerd, and so am I. When he got on the plane, the first thing he did was pull a power strip out of his baggage and plug it into the seat power outlet so he could plug in all of his electronic devices. He had a suction-cup to mount his cell phone to the plane’s window, and he used it to film the outside view during the plane’s take-off and landing.
As we were approaching the airport in Lisbon, we discussed the various sounds airplane was making: the change in the engine sound as the plane began its descent from 38,000 feet, the deployment of the flaps and wheels, the direction the plane was approaching the airport, the effect of the wind on the landing, etc. Being a nerd, I always pay attention to those things, but I seldom have another nerd on the plane to discuss them with.
Oh, we had no trouble talking. Even though his native language is Portuguese and he now lives with his parents and sister in Lisbon, he attends an American school here, and his English is as good as mine. His ambition after university is to become an airline pilot.
After deplaning, I waited until my bike came out on the conveyor belt at the large item baggage claim. Then I started to unpack and inspect it before I thought to snap a picture. Here’s what it looked like.
I had read on several blogs that the best way to transport a large touring on a plane is in a heavy-duty plastic bag, and it worked out well. The theory is that if the baggage handlers see that it’s a bike, they will handle it more carefully than they will a cardboard box or hard-shell case. The theory seemed to have held up.
There was no damage to the bike, although someone had obviously been fiddling with it. The skewer on the real wheel was loose, and the bubble wrap I had put on the rear derailleur to protect it was now on the front chain ring. There were also some tears in the plastic. The belt I had used to fasten the front wheel to the frame to keep it from turning was undone.
I had noticed part of this when I rechecked the bike in Atlanta, and I think it was done by TSA in Phoenix when the bike was inspected. There was a large TSA tag inside the bag. I believe the bike was too big to send through their x-ray machine, so it was inspected by hand, presumably by someone who didn’t understand bicycles.
I rode my bike to the hostel where I am staying for two more nights. After that I didn’t do much except vegetate. I do not deal well with lack of sleep, and my brain was not functioning well. I stayed up as lat as I could, which turned out to be about 5 pm, and I slept until 6 this morning.