Madrid

Madrid

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Grinch

(image from the web)


I suppose you could say that I am a Halloween Grinch.  Even though Alejandro is up here on Halloween for the first time, I am not doing anything to celebrate it...  no costumes, no candy, no ghoulish decorations... I didn't even buy a pumpkin, much less carve a jack o' lantern. 

I can remember decades ago when more than 100 "trick-or-treaters" would come to the door.  Now there are very few children in the neighborhood.  When it got to the point where less than ten kids showed up, I stopped buying candy, turning on the outside light, and waiting for "trick-or-treaters". 

It's not that I have anything against Halloween.  I'm certainly not one of those fanatics that view it as some sort of Satanic observance.  Tomorrow Alejandro is returning to Mexico City, and I am going with him.  We have lots of mundane chores to do today... do laundry, finish packing our suitcases, clean house, water the plants, etc., etc.  We don't have time today for any Halloween fun.  Well, when we are done with our chores, we might watch a spooky movie tonight. 

But to my readers in the United States...
Happy Halloween!
And to my readers in Mexico...
¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

Spudnuts!

Forget about Dunkin' Donuts or even Krispy Kreme... in my humble opinion, the best donuts are Spudnuts.  As the name implies, Spudnuts are made from potato flour.  They are based on a German recipe.  From 1946 to 1968 Spudnut Shops were a national chain which had over 300 stores across the country.  The company was sold in 1968, but there are still 35 independent Spudnut stores in existence.  And one of them is located right here in Berea, Ohio.  For as long as I can remember, Spudnuts have been a Berea tradition.  The store used to be located in downtown Berea, but when "urban renewal" (or should I say "urban destruction") razed most of the historic buildings of our downtown, Spudnuts built a new store in another part of Berea.



Alejandro loves Spudnuts.  Since today is his last day here in Ohio, this morning I went out to buy some.  We had a yummy, albeit not very healthy, breakfast of Spudnuts!



                                                  Alejandro's face says it all!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oom-pah-pah

The feeding frenzy continues!  Yesterday Alejandro and I met a friend for lunch at a German restaurant in the nearby suburb of Parma.  I have been to Das Schnitzel Haus numerous times, and the food has always been excellent, the portions generous, and the service friendly.  Yesterday was no exception.


(photo taken by our waitress)



Alejandro and I have been here on each of his visits to Ohio.  Years ago he spent several months in Germany as an exchange teacher, and he says that the food at Das Schnitzel Haus is authentic.



Alejandro and I both ordered the German platter. The platter includes schnitzel, bratwurst (maybe the best bratwurst I have ever had), goulash and two side dishes.  Alejandro selected red cabbage and spaetzle.   We knew from experience not to order a soup or appetizer because the entrees are so large.  The home-baked bread that is served with dinner is so good that one could easily make a meal of that.  We saved a little corner of space in our tummies to share a piece of cheese strudel.

We have enjoyed so much delicious food during Alejandro's stay here, but our stomachs are expanding as a result!  And in a few days we will be heading to Mexico City where more wonderful food will be tempting us!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Barbeque vs. Barbacoa

Last night Alejandro and I went out for dinner with Gayle, a high school friend of mine.  Gayle had been wanting to try a restaurant called Bubba's Barbeque, owned by a former player with the Cleveland Browns football team. The restaurant is about a half hour away in the Cleveland suburb of Avon.



We each ordered a half slab of boneless barbeque ribs, one of the house specialties.  I've never been a huge fan of barbequed ribs because of the bones and all the waste.  At some places, it seems as if there really isn't very much meat.  So I was happy about the boneless option.  The ribs were served with extra sauce, a corn muffin, and two sides. Gayle and I had the sweet potato fries and southern-style green beans.  Alejandro had the sweet potato fries and cole slaw (something he had never had before.) 





Our meal was delicious... the best ribs I had ever had, very tender and tasty.  Gayle said that some years ago she had eaten at a barbeque restaurant in Georgia which was considered the best in the state.  Gayle said that the food here was just as good as what she had in Georgia.

I mentioned that our "barbeque" derives from the Mexican "barbacoa", which is a quite different cooking process.   Gayle said that it came from the Caribbean.  Well, I did some research on the internet, and we were both right.  Gayle was correct that the process of slow roasting meat on a grill, allowing it to be enveloped in smoke, came from the natives of the Caribbean.  In the native Taino language the grill was called  a "barabicu".  The term entered the Spanish language as "barbacoa", and that word was also applied to a roasting method typical of Mexico.  There, the meat, usually goat, is placed in a pit with a bowl beneath it to collect the broth.  The meat is covered with maguey leaves and coals, and roasted for several hours.  The word "barbacoa" spread from northern Mexico to the southwestern United States.  So, the cooking method did indeed come from the Caribbean, and our word "barbeque" came to us via Mexico.

However it got here... our food was great, and I would definitely make the drive to eat at "Bubba's Barbeque" again. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Weekend in Columbus

Last weekend Alejandro and I drove to Columbus, Ohio, a two hour drive down the interstate, to visit my sisters-in-law.

The weather was absolutely perfect... lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.  It will, quite possibly, be the last time that we see weather like that this year.

 
Autumn foliage in Columbus
 
 
 
The art deco Lincoln-LeVeque Tower is a landmark of downtown Columbus.
When it was built in 1927, it was the tallest building between New York and Chicago.
Three years later it was surpassed by the Terminal Tower in Cleveland.
 
 
 
Of course, our visit to Columbus involved a lot of eating. 
We had a very nice Sunday brunch downtown at the Millstone Restaurant.
We all ordered a very tasty variation on eggs Benedict.
 
 
 
My sister-in-law Barbara took us to the Columbus Museum of Art. 
Although the museum is much smaller than Cleveland's museum, we had a nice time.
Here Alejandro and Barbara pose in the courtyard by a work created
by the glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.
 
 
 
My other sister-in-law, Phyllis (who traveled with me to Europe this summer) is in the process of moving.  She and her husband Jim bought a condo on the south side of Columbus, and we went to see their new place. 
They have a wonderful view from their balcony.
 
 
Barbara, Phyllis and Alejandro enjoying the sunshine.
 
 
Yesterday we returned to Olmsted Falls.  Although we still have some dinner engagements with friends scheduled for this week, Alejandro's visit is coming to an end.  He returns to Mexico City on November 1st, and I am going with him.  So I have to start getting ready for my departure.
 
Soon I will be reporting once again from Mexico! 


Monday, October 27, 2014

A Soprano Instead of a Violinist

I have fallen behind on my blogging since Alejandro and I spent the weekend in Columbus, Ohio. 
Last Friday we attended a Cleveland Orchestra concert at Severance Hall along with a couple friends of mine.  I had purchased tickets for seats in the fourth row.  I have never been that close to the stage before, and I will never buy tickets that close again!

 
It was interesting to be so near to the conductor.  We could see every expression on his face, and James Gaffigan, who was guest conducting, was very much "into" the music. If we were any closer, we could have read the sheet music of the front row of musicians, but unfortunately we could not see the entire orchestra.  When the orchestra chorus came out to sing in the second number, I could only see a few faces in the gaps between the instrumentalists.

The concert was supposed to begin with noted violinist Hilary Hahn performing two concertos by Bach.  However, she was forced to cancel on the advice of her physician.  In place of the violin concertos, an orchestra ensemble and a guest vocalist performed a Bach cantata... not exactly my cup of tea.  One of my friends dislikes opera... so you can imagine that listening to a soprano singing in German for 25 minutes was not his idea of fun.  His unhappiness. however, was nothing compared to the two ladies who sat on the other side of me.  They had driven for over five hours from Toronto, Canada, to hear Hilary Hahn perform!  They were not pleased!

Fortunately, the rest of the concert was enjoyable.  There was a nice choral piece by Brahms, and the program concluded with a spirited performance of Mendelssohn's "Reformation Symphony".   In spite of everything, it was another great evening.

    

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Night on the Town

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, autumn day.  Late in the afternoon, Alejandro and I drove to downtown Cleveland.

 
Even though Terminal Tower is no longer the tallest skyscraper in Cleveland, it is the symbol of the city.  The tower is 52 stories tall, and, when it was built in the late 1920s, it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City.
 
 
 
On the western edge of downtown Cleveland are several blocks known as the Warehouse District.  The area had fallen into disrepair, but by the 1980s the Victorian buildings were being restored, and the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  The old warehouses were converted into office and residential space, and the area became a "hot spot" for fine dining.  I had made reservations for one of the district's restaurants, Mallorca.  Mallorca specializes in Spanish and Portuguese inspired dishes.  We had a delicious supper there.
 
 
 
 
After supper we drove a short distance to downtown Cleveland's Playhouse Square, another one of the city's gems.  Back in the 1920s, when opulent movie theaters were the norm, the Palace, the State, the Ohio and the Allen Theaters opened along a short stretch of Euclid Avenue.  Just across the street was the Hanna Theater.  By the late 1960s all of the theaters except the Hanna had been closed, and the once beautiful interiors fell into decay.  In the 1970s, when plans to raze the Ohio and the State Theaters were announced, there was a public outcry.  The Playhouse Square Foundation was created to acquire and restore the theaters to their former splendor.  Today, Playhouse Square is the second largest performing arts center in the United States, second only to Lincoln Center in New York City.  In 1999 the Foundation acquired the Hanna Theater across the street. The success of Playhouse Square was spawned the growth of hotels and restaurants in the neighborhood.
 
 
 



 Just this year archways over the streets leading into the district were built, and, at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 14th Street the world's largest outdoor chandelier was installed.


 
 
I had tickets for us to see a production of "Les Miserables" performed by the Great Lakes Theater, a repertory troupe that has its new home in the Hanna Theater.  This was Alejandro's second visit to Playhouse Square.  On a previous trip, I took him to see "The Lion King".
 
 

 
 
The show was excellent.  It was another great Cleveland experience for Alejandro!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Cleveland Neighborhoods

The weather forecast for yesterday was originally for sunshine, but instead it turned out to be cloudy and chilly.  The sun didn't make an appearance until around 5 PM.  Nevertheless we went ahead with our plan to visit two of Cleveland's most historic neighborhoods, Ohio City and Tremont.


Both neighborhoods are located to the west of downtown Cleveland, just across the Cuyahoga River.  In recent years both have experienced a revival with suburbanites moving back into the city and buying and restoring many of the beautiful old homes.  They have also become centers for fine dining and art galleries.

The cornerstone of Ohio City is the famous West Side Market.  It is a European style market building which was built in 1912.  Since 1973 it has been on the National Register of Historic Places.  The large number of vendors sell meats, produce, bakery and other products.  More than one million visitors come to the market each year, including many tourists.  The market has been featured on the Travel Channel and the Food Network.  Even Alejandro, who is used to large market buildings in Mexico City, was quite impressed.



We could not resist sampling some of the market's goodies.  The offerings reflect the ethnic diversity of Cleveland, and Alejandro had his first taste of baklava and cannoli.  We also bought some home-made fudge!

 
 
Next door to Ohio City is the neighborhood of Tremont.  It is noted for its large number of historic churches, which again reflect the diverse ethnic backgrounds of Cleveland's residents.  The most famous and distinctive of these churches is St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral.  Built in 1913, it is considered one of the finest examples of Russian church architecture in the United States.  It was also featured in the 1978 film "The Deer Hunter".   The interior is lavishly decorated with icons, but unfortunately we were unable to go inside.
 

 


We spent all afternoon exploring the two neighborhoods.  At 6 PM we met friends at an Ohio City restaurant... Le Petite Triangle.  We had an excellent supper of French crepes with Katie (who used to teach French at my school), her French-born husband Olivier, their two children Nina and Christian, and Katie's mom.  It was a wonderful ending to a great day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Early Thanksgiving

Last night Alejandro and I were invited for dinner at the home of my new-found cousin Gail and her husband Wes.  (I have written previously about how we made contact through my blog.  If you haven't read about that encounter, look for the post entitled "Just Incredible!" under the entries for March, 2014.)  They live less than ten minutes away from me in the neighboring city of Berea.

Gail decided that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be a unique experience for Alejandro... a wonderful idea, and so sweet of her!

 
 

 The meal was delicious.  Turkey is not uncommon in Mexico.  (In fact the turkey was first domesticated in pre-Hispanic Mexico.)  However, most of the side dishes were new to Alejandro.  The dressing was a very nice variation which included cranberries.  There was a corn casserole, and the sweet potatoes were the best I have ever had.  It's a family recipe in which the sweet potatoes are topped with brown sugar and nuts instead of the usual marshmallows.  For dessert, of course there was pumpkin pie, as well as apple-cranberry pie.  Alejandro thoroughly enjoyed everything.  (And so did I!)

Best of all was the warm hospitality offered by Gail and Wes. They are wonderful people, and I feel so fortunate to have made contact with my cousin.  It was a delightful and memorable evening for us both.

 
¡Muchas gracias, Gail y Wes!



Monday, October 20, 2014

Work Before Play

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, autumn day... a perfect day for an outdoor excursion.

BUT... the leaves were piling up and demanding our attention.  So yard work was to be the first order of the day.  We think of raking leaves as a very mundane task, but for Alejandro it was a completely new experience.  I'm not sure that he is telling the truth, but he said that he enjoyed it.

 
 
With Alejandro's help, the job was finished by 1 PM.  Now we had time to enjoy the day.  We drove a short distance from the house to a portion of the Cleveland Metroparks.  We in greater Cleveland are so fortunate to have our Metroparks.  The metropolitan park district was created in 1917, and today comprises more than 21,000 acres.  The park reservations, which encircle most of the Cleveland area, are known as the "Emerald Necklace".  You can drive for miles along the parkways, and feel as if you were far from an urban center.  We, who live here, tend to take the Metroparks for granted, but our park system is the envy of many cities throughout the country.
 
We drove into the Rocky River Reservation which follows the course of Rocky River as it flows north into Lake Erie.  We parked the car at one of the picnic areas, and started walking along the all-purpose trail.  (The park system contains over 100 miles of paved paths for walkers and cyclists.)
 

Rocky River

The trail went past the Rocky River Nature Center, a small museum devoted to the biology and geology of the river valley, so we went inside.


The terrace at the back of  the museum looks out over the river and the cliffs formed over the eons of time as the river cut its course through the layers of stone.


What I did not know was that behind the Nature Center there is a wooden staircase leading up to the top of the cliffs.  Of course we had to climb them for the view.



 
 
By 3:30 we returned to the house, because we had to get ready for another dinner engagement.  We were going to meet a couple friends of mine at a restaurant called the "100th Bomb Group".   It is located by the Cleveland Airport (from our table we could look out the window and watch the airplanes taking off).  The theme of the restaurant's décor is World War II...  right down to the vintage planes outside.
 
 
Once again, we had an evening of good food and good company!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Social Whirl Begins

Since Alejandro has been up to Ohio to visit me on two previous occasions, he has already seen most of the places of interest in the area.  However, we do have a very busy social calendar since all my friends want to see him.

Yesterday we drove out to the city of Hudson which is located between Cleveland and Akron.  There a group of my retired teaching colleagues met us at a nice Italian Restaurant called the Tomato Grill.

 
At the left is Jane, who taught Spanish with me for many years.  Next to her are Nancy and her husband Fred.  Nancy taught math at my school. (Those of you who have been following my blog for some time, will recognize Jane, Nancy and Fred.  I played "tour guide" to them in the Yucatán last winter.)  Next to Fred is Carol, who taught French and who, for a number of years, was the chairperson of our the foreign language department.  On the other side of the table are Alejandro, of course, and Phyllis, who was a guidance counselor at my school.
 
After a leisurely meal, most of us then went to Jane's house for dessert... and a special treat.  Jane still had some Xtabentún (a Mayan honey liqueur) from her trip to the Yucatán.  So we enjoyed a unique after-dinner drink.  (Xtabentún is difficult to find outside of the Yucatán... even in other parts of Mexico.  I have only found one place in the United States that sells it, a liquor store in Chicago.  I will be going to visit friends in Chicago in December, and I will have to buy a bottle for myself, and a bottle for Jane.) 
 
 
(photo taken by Jane)

(Nancy is holding Jane's "puppy", Ollie)

 
The weather was gray, rainy and chilly yesterday.  It was the perfect day for staying indoors and enjoying good food and the company of good friends!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Foliage

This autumn has not been the most spectacular for colorful fall foliage.  However, for Alejandro, who has never been up here in the fall, seeing the yellow, red and orange leaves is a brand new experience.

The weather today was quite nice... no rain, mild temperatures, and frequent appearances of the sun.  Knowing Cleveland weather, it could turn out to be the prettiest day of Alejandro's stay up here.  So, in spite of the fact that we had a lot of errands to run, I made sure that we had some time to enjoy the beauty of autumn.  We went to East River Park in my home town of Olmsted Falls.


 
 
The park has nice views of Rocky River below...
 
 
 
This heron stood motionless for the longest time on one of the rocks in the river.
For once, it was not difficult to take a wildlife photo.
 
 
The park is a lovely, tranquil place, quite different from the hustle and bustle of Alejandro's hometown of Mexico City.

Welcome to Ohio!



Late yesterday afternoon, my friend Alejandro arrived in Cleveland for a two week visit.  He left Mexico City at 7 AM (which meant that he was at the airport very early in the morning).  Everything went smoothly; his flights were all on schedule, and at 5 PM his plane landed at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.  The weather here had been cloudy and rainy for most of the day, but the sun came out for Alejandro's arrival.

After dropping off his luggage, we went out for supper at a nearby Bob Evans Restaurant.  Bob Evans is a chain of restaurants that began in Ohio and spread to neighboring states.  It's nothing fancy, but it has good Mid-Western style food.  Alejandro had a large cranberry-pecan salad.  Along with it he had two things that are not easily found in Mexico...  root beer and pumpkin bread.



¡Bienvenido a Ohio, Alejandro!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

One Year of Blogging

It was one year ago this month that I started this blog.  My purpose in beginning the blog was to keep a travel diary for myself, and to enable family and friends to keep up-to-date on my travels.  There would be no need to send e-mails or postcards... "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here."

In the past year I have traveled like a crazy man.  I have taken five major trips, three to Mexico, and two to Europe.  And there are more trips in my future...  Mexico City in November, and Oaxaca, Mexico, in January.  I figured out that by the end of 2014 I will have spent one third of the year outside of the country.  At times I feel a bit guilty.  There are things that I should be doing around the house.  My flower garden was woefully neglected this past summer.  But then I think... I love to travel, and at this stage in my life I only have a certain number of years left when I will be able to do so.  (Hopefully I have another twenty years or so left, but one never knows.)  So at this point in my life, I am constantly and very happily planning my next trip.

Some of my friends follow my blog regularly, others not so much.  I have friends who tell me, "I can never keep track of when you are at home."  And I tell them, "Just look at my blog and you will know."

Keeping a blog has turned out to be much more than having a personal travel diary.  I have made contact with other bloggers, primarily people who live in Mexico or who have traveled to Mexico.  I have developed on-line friendships with these people, and we comment regularly on each others' blogs.  They are all interesting folks, and it has been a pleasure to connect with them.  I have even had the chance to meet a couple of these bloggers face-to-face during my travels to Mexico...  Marc who lives in Mérida, Yucatán, and Kim, who is a passionate aficionado of Mexico... and in November I am looking forward to meeting Barbara, an ex-pat who lives in San Miguel de Allende.

Those of you who regularly read my posts know that the most amazing consequence of my blog was that by sheer coincidence I made contact with a third cousin who lives just five minutes away from me.  I have a new friend and family member all because of this blog! 

During the course of the year, my blog has had more than 30,000 page views.  Admittedly, a certain percentage of that number comes from spammers, but I have had more visitors than I could have ever imagined.  For that I have to thank my fellow bloggers who have kindly added my blog to their "blog list".  I have added them to my list, and I hope that it has increased their traffic a bit. 

To the side of the blog you notice that I have a gadget that shows where my visitors come from.  I can tell that I have people I don't know visiting on a regular basis.  I see the names of towns in California, British Columbia, Indiana, Baja California, (just to name a few) appear again and again.  To those people, I would like to say thanks for taking the time to follow my blog.  And I have a request for you.  Don't be shy; leave a comment and say "hello" or "hola".   My commenting format is very easy and painless, and you can comment anonymously.  I would really love to hear from you!! 




Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Mystery Solved

A couple years ago I lost my passport.  One evening, a few weeks before a planned trip to Yucatán, I realized that my passport, and the neck pouch in which I always keep it, were not in their usual place.  I knew for sure that it was in the house after my previous trip, but I vaguely remembered tucking it away somewhere when I was going to be out of town for a couple days.  The question was, where did I hide it?  I started looking through the house, but I couldn't find it.  I became frantic, rummaging through every room... looking in every logical place and every illogical place as well.  After hours of searching, I finally gave up.  I needed a passport in only a few weeks, so first thing the next morning I went to the post office, reported my passport missing, and applied for a replacement.  Since I needed it soon, I paid a pretty penny for expedited processing.  Fortunately, my new passport arrived with time to spare before my scheduled departure.

For nearly two years I have wondered what happened to the old passport.  I did not run across it anywhere.  I wondered if there was a gremlin in the house, but I figured that I must have accidentally thrown it out while house cleaning.  However since I always kept it in its pouch, it would seem to be something too large to be accidentally tossed in the garbage.

A couple nights ago I was getting ready to print off this year's Christmas cards.  I knew that in the morning I needed to go to the office supply store to buy card stock and printer ink, but I checked to see if I needed to buy envelopes. There were several boxes in one of the cupboards of my computer room.  One was filled with unused Christmas cards from previous years.  A couple contained envelopes... more than enough for this year's mailing.  And then I looked in a fourth box, and there it was!  The missing pouch with my old passport!

Of course, the old passport is invalid, but it's a nice souvenir with stamps from my past travels.  And the two year old mystery has finally been solved!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Busy October

I am home in Ohio for exactly one month before I take off again, and it is going to be a very busy month.

On October 16th, my friend Alejandro is coming up from Mexico City for a visit.  Before he arrives I have lots to do. 

I need to clear out all the flower beds even though we have not yet had a killing frost.  I don't want to have to worry about gardening work while Alejandro is up here.  (It's enough that he will experience raking leaves while he is with me. Ha!)  I have already managed to clean up about half of the beds.  The next couple days are supposed to sunny, so I should be able to get that completed.  

I also need to get my home-made Christmas cards printed.  Those who have been reading my blog from the beginning know that each year I paint a picture to use for my card.  I scan it to the computer, create a card, and then print it.  The painting was completed before I left on my previous trip, and last night I started printing my cards.

Of course, before my guest arrives, I also need to give the house a good cleaning!

Once Alejandro is here, we will have a busy schedule.  He has been here twice before, and I have already shown him the sights in the area, so there will not be that much sightseeing.  However, I do have tickets to see "Les Miserables" which will be playing at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, as well as tickets to a Cleveland Orchestra concert.  All of my friends want to get together with Alejandro, and I have already begun to plan some dinner engagements.  Usually when I am at home, I see friends a couple times a month, but when Alejandro is here the social calendar is always full!

Alejandro will be here until November 1st, and I will be flying back to Mexico City with him.  I have rented an apartment there for 18 days. 

So, as you can see, life continues to be busy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Long Journey Home

After a very long day yesterday, I am now back home in Ohio after a wonderful two weeks in Madrid.

At 8:15 AM (Madrid time... 2:15 AM Cleveland time) I left Werner and Manuel's apartment and took a taxi to the airport.  It is fortunate that I allowed plenty of time for my 11:35 flight, because security was a nightmare.  There were two different security lines, one for flights to the U.S. and another for everyone else.  The process for my flight was much more stringent than it is at American airports.  I followed the procedures that I always follow in the United States... emptied all my pockets, put my belt, wallet, passport pouch and camera in bins, took off my jacket, and pulled my computer and bag of liquids out of my carry-on.  (The only thing we didn't have to do is take off our shoes.)  My carry on did not pass the inspection.  Instead of opening my bag there as is the procedure in the U.S. if something looks suspicious, I had to go back through the line.  I asked the lady if the three bins of my belongings would be set aside rather than left sitting there on the belt where anyone could take my valuables.  She said no, so I at least grabbed my wallet and passport pouch, and went back with my carry-on.  I had to remove everything electrical... the cables for my camera and computer, small appliances like my beard trimmer and clothes steamer.  It went through the X-ray again.  The way she was looking at the X-ray image and asking an assistant as if something still looked suspicious, I thought I was going to have to go through the line yet again!  But I passed inspection, and fortunately nothing had been pilfered from my bins.

I have read about incidents on flights where passengers go ballistic, and I have always thought that such behavior was ridiculous. But on the flight to Newark, for the first time I understood how tempers could flare.  The man across the aisle from me was a real jerk.  A young lady was trying to put her bag in the overhead bin, and the jerk growled at her, " Don't put anything on top of my computer."  It was a small flat bag that was taking up room that should have been reserved for larger items.  I spoke up and said, "Small items should be placed under the seat in front of you so that there is room for larger bags."  He ignored me, but bravo to the young lady.  She stood her ground, and he finally rearranged his precious computer so that she was able to place her bag in the bin.  He grumbled, "You should ask permission before putting anything on top of something."    Later in the flight, after the beverage service, the jerk decided to fully recline his seat.  The woman behind him had a drink on her tray table, and it fell on her lap. At the end of the flight, when we were deplaning, the jerk barged ahead rather than waiting for the people seated ahead of him to gather their belongings.  Jeez!

It was probably the most stressful flight experience I have had in all my years of traveling (I guess maybe I've just been lucky), but I made it home at last... at 9:00 PM (Cleveland time... 3:00 AM Madrid time).