Made it to Madrid on Monday with relative ease… Well maybe a couple of small bumps.

We flew British Airways, which is SOOO much better than any US carrier.  Less bag fees, better food, smiling flight attendants, free drinks, etc…  I must say that we were quite piggish on the airplane.  Both Rabbit and I indulged in three dinners – EACH!  (Two lasagnas and a beef.)   mmmmmm.  I’m not sure what the nice BA ladies thought, but we were hungry, and the wine was delicious!

mmmmmm... Airline food!

Customs (as always) was a bitter sweet experience.  Having a red passport (E.U. citizenship) really does make a difference when traveling in Europe.  We got off the plane in London, walked by the huge que for foreign citizens and breezed thru the E.U. check point.  This was the sweet part.

My Slovenian passport

The bitter was the transfer in London.  You land in one terminal… leave the security zone…. take the Heathrow Express to another terminal, wait in the long que to reenter security, have all the camera carry-ons scrutinized (again,) wait wait wait in the duty free no-man’s-land for them to call your gate, get in the que for the gate, and finally, board the flight to Spain.

De-planing in London

On arrival into Spain, there was one last hurdle to overcome.  The importation of our gear.  The “correct” way to travel is to use a ATA carnet.  This is basically an official document that lists all your equipment.

ATA Carnet

It also has the serial numbers, the weights, the value, and the country of manufacture.  Before you leave your home country, you have it inspected and stamped by your home customs office.

Que for gate entry in London

On arrival, and again on departure from each country you visit, you must have it inspected and stamped once more.  Why all this trouble you ask?  In a nutshell, it is meant to stop the importation and exportation of goods without duties.

Waiting in London... Rich tries a self portrait on his new iPhone 4

Rabbit falls in love in the jet way...

The net net is that it has the potential to be a big pain in the ass.  Some customs offices take a quick look, stamp the carnet, and you are off… Others want to go thru every single bit of kit on your person.  (I mean EVERYTHING)  Lens caps, sensor swabs, CF cards.  You get a guy who happened to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and you can find yourself hanging around the airport for an hour or more.

The preverbial "wing shot" (every single photographer has taken this image)

Fortunately for this trip, Spain was fairly easy.  They opened the bags, did a cursory look, and we were on our way.  (We shall see if it is as easy to leave)

Loading our Pasat

From there, we were free…  We grabbed the rental car, (a huge black diesel Passat) and then into the city to check into the hotel.  We freshened up, and hit the town for some evening time lapse shots.  Nuthin like hitting the ground running….