Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Never Trust Your Itinerary - the Joys of Travel

Does it make me a terrible person to say that the thing I miss most on this trip is my iPone? Ok, so I miss my family and my friends too; but, thankfully two of my best friends were able to join me on different parts of the trip and I’m planning to see a few more, plus with the internet it’s like I never left. So that just leaves the trusty iPhone. But actually I don’t really even miss that anymore…it’s nice to be out of touch and doing whatever you feel like everyday without having to ask/tell anyone! And that is exactly what I’ve been doing!

Let’s go back to the beginning of the trip – Niki and I were both scheduled to arrive from the States around 8:15 am March 20, 2008. I was delayed a few hours, no shock there, I was on Continental Airlines through Newark, NJ on a rainy day. When I arrived I collected my enormous bag – on a side note - I had been worried about my bag being overweight before the trip and it was of course. They were really nice to me at the counter when I tried to remove as many granola bars, 1.5 pairs of shoes, and a book from my bag to get closer to 50 lbs. I think the trick is to try to get your bag to down to the right weight in front of them and if you are still over they pretty much always let you go! This worked again already on this trip because of course I was over by 6.5 kilos in the Barcelona airport but after trying to lighten my load he let me pass too!

Likely the reason I can't get my bag down to the allowed weight - a girl needs her shoes!

I took my bag and assuming Niki was already waiting for me at the hotel or somewhere in Madrid, looked around just incase and headed out of baggage claim. I found a board listing all the Arrivals and realized Niki wouldn’t be there since she wasn’t scheduled to land for another 5 hours?!?! What? I talked to her 4 hours before I took off and she was already on her plane…she never called to say they were delayed. This was very strange but since it was so going to be a while I made my way to the hotel alone.

To get from the Madrid airport to the main part of the city where we were staying I had to take 3 subways...ahh, this meant I had to transfer a few times carrying my 52 pound bag, a 20 pound backpack, a big coat, and a purse. Not fun. Thankfully, at the second station when I was struggling pretty badly a security worker at the Metro saw me and came to my rescue. He helped me up about 4 flights of stairs/escalators. After a while he turned right towards a long escalator and I went left following signs to the #1 Metro line. I told him Gracias, gracias… I was so thankful and turned the corner alone. I didn’t get far before I stopped dead in my tracks and looked down in horror…two steep flights down to the platform. No one in sight I started to un-wrap my backpack from the top of the suitcase and pick up my long black coat. All of the sudden my friend from before was back, he must have realized just as he was about to go up that I was going to be in trouble when I turned that corner. You have no idea how thankful I was to see him back to help me on the final stretch; I only hope that he knew how thankful I was by the look of relief on my face. I made it the rest of the way no problems and checked in at the hotel.

I took my time getting settled in and freshening up from the long overnight flight. Still thinking I only had a few hours before she would arrive I got out my new Madrid map and with the closest green section in mind headed out the door.

A few hours passed, I had lunch in Plaza de Espaňa and walked around but checked in at the hotel around 2:30 then 4:00 and finally I gave in and pulled out my European cell. I didn’t know how to make calls yet but text my little sis to check the flight for me. I waited, missed her call because I didn’t know what my ringer sounded like, typical, then got a text she lands at 9:30 pm. WHAT?!?!? How can this be, she was on the plane in Atlanta at 6:45 pm on Thursday. This is crazy, I text back call me again. When Bri calls she tells me that Niki’s flight was diverted to St. John, New Foundland (I think). I’ve never even heard of this city before. The website just said it’s been diverted and should land tonight at 9:30 pm, keep in mind this is 13 hours past her scheduled arrival time.

Wow, I hope she’s ok and decide I can stop waiting around for her and start enjoying my first visit to SPAIN! I actually love it here already! I can’t help myself. Madrid has this inviting feeling and there are people all over, lots of tourists but it’s not too crowded and there are flowers blooming all around. People have balconies filled with colorful flower pots and then I see in the distance….GREEN! Lots of it.

I am not using my map, just wandering now. The amazing gardens in Europe are one of my favorite things and this park, that was drawing me in, is up there on the top of my list. It was Jardines de Sabatini next to the also gorgeous Palacio Real and Catedral de Ntra. Sra de la Almudena (that’s a mouthful). I stayed in the park a while taking it all in - there were couples loving on each other, toursist (like me) taking loads of pictures, families, and lots of people with their dogs. It was amazing and the sun was setting which gave it this dreamlike glow between the tall hedges and mazes which decorated the landscape.

P.S. Niki finally arrived that night and was in at the hotel when I got in from dinner with my new friends, George and Marisa!

No comments: