1) I can travel internationally on my own and be just fine
2) It is nice (at times) to travel with someone
3) I have more patience than I would like to admit
4) When traveling it is important to remember that getting to the destination is half the adventure.
Arriving in Madrid was interesting, I had conveniently forgotten to print directions to my hotel. OOPS! So, I wandered outside and jumped on the next bus that was departing. My plan was simple, get off somewhere that either sounded familar or at the nearest metro. Luckily, the bus went right to the main metro station. My plan from there? Stop somewhere that sounded familar and then take a cab. Which worked perfectly, until I hopped in a cab. The cabbie drove me, literally, around the corner, stopped pointed and kept repeating “mira” and pointing. Basically, telling me to get out and walk, pointing in the general direction.
I think that it took me an additional hour from that point to find the hostel, but I was happy. I had completed my first mission. Next, I took a shower and nap and then I took to the streets. I had no maps, had written nothing down about the city, and I had no plan other than to find coffee asap. So, I wondered aimlessly around the city, taking various trains to different stops that I thought sounded familiar. I was able to find the palace, a wonderful park, and great plazas full of people. I was a bit exhausted though, not speaking spanish can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. That night, I went in search of food. What I found was a great little bar, that served tapas with each cerveza ordered. Perfecto! You didn’t get to choose what you wanted, instead the bartender would hand me a plate and I ate, greatful that I didn’t have to order in my limited Spanish. Knowing that I had to get up early the next morning, I headed back to my hotel and was greated by a fellow traveler about my age. We talked for a bit and then decided to venture back out into the streets with a few people he had met earlier.
Armed with people who actually spoke Spanish, was refreshing. I was able to practice what little Spanish I knew, which calmed my fears quite a bit and gave me the confidence to readily make an idiot of myself. But hey, at least I was making the effort, right?
The next morning, I set out to find the airport and my travel partner for the duration of the adventure. I learned that there was a metro stop less than 2 minutes away from the hotel and that it takes you directly to the airport. If only I had known! I had arrived plenty early and the plane was plenty late! As I was waiting, I of course was freaking out in my head, “Am I in the right terminal? Is there another airport? Am I sure that he was arriving today and on this flight?” Of course, I had nothing to worry about the plane had been delayed earlier.
When I finally saw Ace, walk through the terminal it was all I could do not to jump over the barricade that separated those arriving and those waiting. It was such a relief to finally know that he had made it and to see him after a month and half of long distance communications. The rest of the day was spent walking around the city and trading travel stories of our independant adventure to that point. We had to travel around with our full backpacks, which we quickly learned made walking around miserable. So, defeated by our packs, we headed to the train station to see if we could get to Seville any earlier. Much to our chagrin, we could not. Instead, we napped waited at the train station.
Trains are a fabulous way to travel. The Renfe train was extremely nice, the seats were spacious and comfortable, and if you felt so inclined you could go to the bar car. Two hours later and slightly more rested we arrived in Seville with no idea of how we would meet up with Ace’s friends who had graciously agreed to host us. Lucky for us, they were waiting at the platform as we arrived…
To be continued…