First leg via Iberia
I was a little worried about my knees on this trip, so I decided to take along a hiking pole. This is traditional on the Camino, but those are tall, heavy, and made of wood. I went online and bought a five-piece collapsible pole from the dreaded Temu for under $10, shipping included.
I did not want to check my backpack, and this way I figured that if it got confiscated by TSA, it wouldn't hurt much, and I didn't want to risk the Leki pole I'd found in SEKI years ago.
TSA at SFO did hold me up to x-ray my backpack a second time, but then let me pass without a word, as did the airport security in Madrid. So far, so good.
And I dodged a bullet on the longest leg of my flight...my original seat was 12L, and as I approached it, i saw two little boys under the age of four sitting right behind it. Great. 9 hours of squealing, crying, and kicking the back of my seat.
Thats when the parents, who were traveling with FOUR kids under eight (and a young au pair) asked if I would be willing to switch seats, as one of them had been assigned a single seat on the far side of the plane. They hoped I wouldn't mind.
Done and done. From my new seat, and with earplugs in place, I barely heard any crying at all. I also slept for about six hours.
I even got through passport control in Madrid in time to try to get a seat on an earlier flight to Santiago, but no luck there. It was already overbooked.
Still, not a bad first day, and all going according to plan.
In the Madrid airport I had plenty of time to enjoy a chorizo sandwich, and note that bottle prices for wine were less than what your pay for a glass in the USA. About $12 for a DO Rueda, Rias Baixas, or Ribera del Duero. And yes, that's per bottle.