I arrived at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 early in the morning after an overnight stay in one of the airport hotels only to be told that I had no seat booked on the flight—or any flight. Apparently, all the air miles and frequent-flyer status in the world will not get you on a flight it you have no ticket. The travel agent used by my hosts in Spain had issued several itineraries but had not actually booked and paid for a ticket. I found this out after several phone calls to Spain that, in order to sort things out, required the travel agent to open the office early. Had I been in Valencia, I would gladly have turfed the agent out of bed myself.
|Like most Spanish cities, Valencia is magnificent.|
Eventually, I caught a later flight for the same connection from Madrid to Valencia, meaning I had to do what I have done many times in the past: sprint through the terminal in Madrid to my connection. I made it. After recounting this to a colleague that evening on Skype, she described me as “the Daniel Craig of nursing.” With my accent, I had always been satisfied with being the Sean Connery of nursing, but I probably needed upgrading to a newer model.
Return to Spain
The international component of my nursing career began in Spain 25 years ago when I took part in a staff exchange programme between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Navarra in Pamplona. Thus began a love affair with Spain and the first of many professional and family visits to Pamplona. My oldest daughter, who studied nursing at the University of Hull and did an elective in critical care in Pamplona, has since worked exclusively in critical care and is well on the way to being a critical care advanced nurse practitioner.
This trip, however, was my first visit to Spain in nine years and my first ever to Valencia, located on the Mediterranean. Hosted by Universidad Europea Valencia, I was there to attend a public event at which a former PhD student of mine was making her case for promotion to associate professor. The former student—Silvia Corchón Arreche, PhD, MSc, RN—was one of the best I’ve supervised, and she sailed through the event. I was one of a panel of three external assessors. Colleagues and family members of the candidate were present, as was the rector (equivalent to president or vice-chancellor in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively). Before you ask if I can speak Spanish, the answer is no, but it is easy to read scientific Spanish, and I could follow the PowerPoint slides. When it came to questions, I was allowed to ask and be replied to in English.
I was accommodated in the historic quarter of the city, which houses many churches, markets, and a cathedral. Like most Spanish cities, it is magnificent. The temperature dropped from 49 C (120.2 F) to a cool 34 C (93.2 F) while I was there. Running was possible in the very early morning. A superb feature of the city, and surrounding the historic quarter, is the bed of a long-ago diverted river, complete with bridges, and it is ideal for running.
The return journey was uneventful, and I leave for Hong Kong and South Korea in three days. Dire warnings are being issued by the Hong Kong government about travel to South Korea due to the MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) crisis, so I am hoping it does not lead to any restrictions.