… what’s that sound? … I like that sound. I love that sound. … It’s the sound of my shoes …: barcelona-munich-tom bradley lax

A day begun in Barcelona and ending in LA, well, Anaheim, the magic kingdom of Howard Johnsons. A numb departure from BCN, somehow. The thought had been too hard to contemplate that we would be leaving Europe, so that when it came to actually going, it was as if we’d been let down, that the fates had not contrived to block our departure. The sun was rising. This taxi ride so different from the one that brought us into the city: the driver said nothing, solemn and silent, somehow fittingly; and the day dawning so brilliantly we would miss.

Our check-in time, hyperbolically early, left us with three hours or so to fill in. A final clean-out of change bought a snack. J. succeeded in last minute souvenir shopping but failed at the shoe-shop, where the service resembled our cafe guy of yesterday, throwing his hands in the air that a punter would have the gall to request a glass of water. The shopkeeper seemed to find it incredible that anyone might ask for service, grew even less helpful when the requested shoe was rejected, as if an act of gross inconsiderateness, nothing at all to do with the fit of shoe on foot.

I found Bolano’s Amulet, and the new Jasper Fforde, couldn’t commit. Spending on tapas satisfied the urge to buy something, at a cafe next to the outdoor smoking area. Patatas bravas. The classic tapa.

The flight to Munich went without incident. When we arrived, not finding our connecting flight on the board, we asked and were told the LA flight was on the other side of the world, would take 40 minutes to walk and involved an ordeal by security, down a long corridor… We had barely 30 minutes.

We got there well ahead of time, having crossed from one end of one terminal to the far end of the other. And were more or less waved through. No scan, one extra passport check.

Many Russians on the next flight. A baby intent on smashing someone.

Lufthansa again. Another surprisingly easy flight, twelve hours. Two dinners, at front and back of the flight. One screaming baby, a different one. Some Americans going home. Germans. Russians.

I caught Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, wonderfully cheesy Hindi film, badly subtitled in English. The male leads, three of them, ridiculously good-looking, intent on giving smoky eyes down the barrel at every opportunity. We synchronised playbacks for M.N. Shyamalan’s Aang The Last Airbender. A mistake to bother. Tension-less badly acted drivel.

I watched an hour or so of Thomas Grimm’s production of Cosi Fan Tutti, Salzburg, I think. An exciting production. Good voices. Nice naughtinesses, like the involvement of the orchestra in the action, the harpsichordist on stage for the recitatives. Costumes a bit questionable at times. But the camera was too close at times as well.

System-B was worth a listen from the 100 CDs and an excellent jazz trio: Wollny-Kruse-Schaefer – Em Live. The fluffage called Wollny a genius.

Was with trepidation that we entered Tom Bradley for the series of checks, security, bio-security. Since we’d packed a sealed packet of Iberian black pig sausage. And we had an apple.

Before we could ditch the apple we were told it would have to be declared. So, waiting for the queue to move, we ate it. Bad idea. On the brink of attaining the land of the free, we were told to queue up again for it to be incinerated. The apple-core. Can’t we just…? No.

The first passport check, we’d they’d done fingerprints and face shot, had said, something like jerky? Don’t worry. Here they were worried enough first to receive the apple-core on a proffered sheet of white paper – presumably for it to be submitted for tests, second to have us empty our bags, retrieve the fully sealed, dried, preserved salami-like sliced meat and confiscate it. So as to stop the spread of Foot and Mouth, we were told.

They were quite nice about it, if slow going about it, and we managed to have a chat with one of the guards who had been told that the reason NZ mutton is so good is because we don’t dock our sheep, so the fat doesn’t or does collect on the rump, one of the two. He told us that the meat in the US smells and tastes bad.

The long bus ride to Anaheim from poor Tom Bradley, freeways all the way. The driver, it being a Disney coach, did put on a DVD of Bambi, but only the small monitor above her head worked and the sound was crap. It was a gesture. Hardly comforting. I hope the Land of D. has not aged the same way.

Howard J.’s near the same as when I was here, about twenty years ago. Surface differences only. A walk up to our big room, with small terrace, and no offers of assistance with luggage. But with none of the people we’ve so far encountered, the security officials included, the brash loud fake obsequiousness I recall, of the Have a Nice Day era.

Only resto we found open was Ihop – don’t ask me. Good service. Fat food. And already obesity rears its wobbly head. Some large persons to be seen here and there, like the curious group to our left, two big girls, one really BIG, with three skinny pome dudes. All eating up enormous plates of fries, T-bone steaks, repeats on the cokes. An eat fest? Or full figure fans?