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Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Tale of 3 Cities: Barcelona, Delhi, and Stockholm (Part One)



My trip to India was like taking a magic carpet ride! 

-Jocelyn T. Dunn



Part One. Delivering a friend's pet to Barcelona! (ciudad numero uno!)

Rather than going straight to India, I planned to take a stopover in Europe for a few days to time adjust before leaping onward. And that ended up being fortunate timing to help a friend by couriering her exceptionally well-behaved dog Cosmo. Our magic carpet (operated by Air Europa) took Cosmo dearest and I across the pond to Barcelona. Honestly it felt like a magic trick when we finally found an airline with pet-friendly policies for transatlantic flights.

There are very few airlines that allow pets to fly in-cabin for transatlantic flights. But if you have an angel of a pet like Cosmo who will be content during such a long flight across the pond, besides Air Europa, United is another option to try. You'll have to call customer service to check if they are planning to allow in-cabin pets for the route you're planning to take. And even if pets are allowed on your route, still there is a limit on the total number of pets for each flight. So sadly, it is unlikely that we will ever walk onto a 757 full of adorable puppies, but if you reserve a month or two in advance, then you'll likely score a place on the short list for your pet!

Then about 10 days before the flight, be prepared to do some back and forth with your veterinarian to get the necessary paperwork issued. For example we needed paperwork in both English and Spanish as well as chip readers for the US and Europe. Kim also suggested that we have someone staying in the area (Thanks Kat!) join us at the airport for check-in, as a plan B just in case the airline does not allow you to bring your pet aboard for one reason or another.. for us, they only glanced over the paperwork and checked that the pet fee had been paid.

So once the details were all set, flying with Cosmo was a breeze! For going through airport security, I was advised to take Cosmo out of the carrying case and simply carry him in my arms. It actually made going through airport security a bit fun! Security personnel in Florida and Spain were happy to see Cosmo, greeting us with joy, one of the agents even gave Cosmo a pat on the head and wished us both safe travels!
After all this, Cosmo has proven his astronaut-like qualities of being able to handle isolated, confined, extreme environments with ease, other reasons why he is basically an astronaut: 1) he is named COSMO, 2) He is the pet of HI-SEAS Mission Director Kim Binsted who will probably go to space someday and is one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about what it takes to be an astronaut, and 3) Cosmo successfully completed (and maybe even enjoyed) his journey from Hawaii to Florida to Spain to Russia!! He's more traveled than most people!

We said good-byes as Saint Kim departed from Port of Miami for a transatlantic cruise, or what I imagine as the first episode of her own space cruising talk show! Cosmo is pictured here looking satisfied by the accomplishment of marking his territory in Miami! I love that he had no idea that he would soon be marking territory in yet another continent! Before the flight from Miami, we spent our afternoon with the infamous Kat and Mark, soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (in this photo you can even see this newly engaged couple sharing a kiss, too cute!!). 

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Soon I was reclined in my magic carpet with Cosmo at my feet. He was such an angel, never barking nor whining, and not even releasing the feared dog fart haha he was a perfect gentleman! When we arrived to Barcelona, about 12 hours later.. or however long it ended up taking after a delay on our connection from Madrid, it was a big relief to finally let Cosmo go outside! And I was pretty happy to be free too :)


Day 1 in Barcelona: Needing some R&R after the long flight, but still living the dream, I woke up in a beautiful cottage in Costa Brava! Life is so good.

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And then continued to day dream at the Salvador Dali museum in Figueres. Big check on the bucket list. Ever since I started visiting the Dali museum in St. Pete Beach, Florida, I've had a fascination with the idea of going to see all of his art. He is a genius who combines religion and sexuality, dream and reality, anything is possible!
I must say that I feel at peace in Barcelona, the city of nature, architecture, beaches, papas bravas, the Catalan independence movement, Dali lovers, Sagrada Familia gawkers, and Barca futbol worshippers! Thanks to Bea the Brava for arranging everything! Come visit chi!

After one last cortado (espresso macchiato), it was time to travel to India for my friend Shailesh's wedding! Though I was excited to visit India for the first time, it's still hard to say good-bye to such a magical place! 

   
I first visited Barcelona last summer after my TEDx presentation. Shailesh joined that journey as well and that's when we met Bea actually! Shailesh and I met in undergrad at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, and we're fellow Midwesterners these days - I think Shailesh loves Chicago more than anyone I know!! :) Anyway, stay tuned for part two.. about arriving to India and experiencing Shailesh and Snigdha's traditional Indian wedding!