An annoying French, two Mormons, an angry American and two dorks from MIT...
Jul 16, 2004
|The annoying French:
Wednesday night I was planning on enjoying my last night in Granada, in my favorite hostel that I´d been to when I go placed in a room with a middle aged French woman. She got there Monday, just like me, and she was one of those people who I could tell that I didn´t like. Mostly because she stood in the kitchen while three of us were trying to cook dinner and was trying to read an unfolded, huge map of Granada. Can´t you do that somewhere else lady? Wednesday night I was dismayed to find out that I would be sleeping directly across from her, but decided I would just put my headphones on and go to sleep. That was until she took her cell phone out and started making calls at midnight. The hostel has a very large common room, perfect for that very thing...but she had to make those calls in the room and talk in her very loud, throaty, and ugly French voice. I was so pissed. Then, she laid down to go to sleep and she starts coughing...but not the cough where you actually have something to cough up, but the little wimpy cough that people do. Yeah, she did it every two minutes. So I kept turning my headphones up, until it wasn´t even comfortable to have them on my ears since they were so loud and I clearly was not going to fall asleep. But she started snoring so loud (louder than you dad...) that I couldn´t take it anymore...so I went to sleep on a couch in the common room. I was irate. When I woke up at 7am, I came in and packed and was as loud as I could possibly be...and she didn´t even move. Ugh. I´m still angry while I sit here and write about her.
Thursday I trained from Granada to Seville, which is supposed to be this awesome city. I´m at the bus stop to go to find a hostel and two Americans come up to me and ask where I´m from...I tell them Chicago (it´s just easier to say that) and the woman was from Rockford. I replied, ¨"No shit!" As I get to know them...I find out that she is a teacher (Spanish and German), they went to BYU, they´ve gone on missions all over the world, and all I could think about was that I felt bad for saying "shit." But we walked around the city in the afternoon together, saw the sights, and decided that we didn´t like it. It was 105 degrees, I wore my pack in that and we walked a good two miles. For any of you who think that I might be wussy...I want to see you do that. I easily lost a pound in sweat. I really like them though. They are nice and funny and have never mentioned that they are Mormon...not that it matters...I don´t even know why I bring it up honestly, but tomorrow we are going to Toledo together. It´s fun to have nice people to bum around with. We went tapas hopping last night, which is what the Spaniards do here, tapas and beer at one bar, then another, then another. Oh yeah, tapas are basically snacks or appetizers that are really cheap and yummy. Except for vegatarians...the only tapas they have for us are plates of cheese, potato chips, or french fries.
The Angry American:
Hey, that´s me! Since Seville sucked, Heather, Todd and I (the couple I have befriended) took the high speed train to Madrid this morning. We were going to do our own things today and one of my tasks was to buy my ticket for my last overnight train to Paris for tomorrow night. In Spain, you have to take a number to wait in line (most other countries there is just a line that people love to cut into...), which is nice. Except that every single person in the world was traveling in Spain today and the RENFE (Spain´s train network) workers are slower than molasses. I was number 919...when i got there it was 2:57 and they were on 910. I finally got called at 4:24. Nine numbers, almost an hour and a half, and 150 people buying tickets for Spain only got helped in that time. So I finally get up there..."No trains to Paris until Monday night." And he called the next number. Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god...I was about ready to rip someone´s head off and start balling at the same time. I start kicking myself because I didn´t book earlier (it´s never been a problem anywhere else in Europe), because I should have just flown from Madrid to London (cheaply if I would have been thinking and booked ahead early) and just thinking..."I want to go home right now, screw Paris, screw London, get me the hell out of Europe." I decided that a bus would have to do...and I wanted a bus from Madrid right to London. The buses left at 6pm. I was checking the online scheduel at 5:45. So much for my luck. Then I thought that I have already spent way too much money, what´s more...I´ll just fly out tomorrow from Madrid. Then I went outside to calm down a bit and walked back to my hostel.
The two dorks from MIT:
In the kitchen at the hostel, I meet two girls from MIT. I tell them I´m from Illinois and that I went to the U of I. One girl´s eyes light up and she says, "Illinois has the best materials science program...what a great school." Um, ok, I studied sociology and drank a lot. But we´ve exchanged the usual greetings and I just start telling them about how I can´t get to Paris and I just need to leave Europe and I miss America (mostly the food) and blah, blah, blah. Then they tell me they had the same problem and went through another town and changed trains. That never even occured to me. They showed me the route they took and how much it cost and I immediately felt better. I hopped on the Metro to the (other) train station...only to wait in line for two hours this time. However, I am rejuvenated because I know that there is a way out of Madrid tomorrow. I start to tell the ticket agent that I know the train to Paris is full, but that I want to be re-routed through this small city on the French border and here is my railpass...I just spit it all out at once. He stops me, looks at me funny, and says, "There are 15 open seats on the train to Paris tomorrow night at 7pm." I just stared at him. "You are kidding me."
When I was in Paris, I was able to buy tickets for a train that was leaving from another station, so I assumed that you could do that in Spain as well. Especially since most of the trains in Madrid stop at both stations. I have no idea what happened, why the guy at Atocha told me the train was full. All I know is that today was exactly what I came on this trip for...to be placed in a situation that I basically have no control over, can´t change and getting mad won´t help...I had to learn to be flexible (or I was going to have to be flexible). I can´t just hop in my car or call my parents to get help. You see, I usually let myself wallow in sorrow, anger and frustration for hours, even days when things to go to my liking. But today, I couldn´t really do that. The thought of spending more time in Madrid just wasn´t appealing, I wanted my plans to stay the same in terms of being in Paris on Sunday. Anyway, everything worked out. The supplement for my ticket was ridiculous though (it´s one of those nice hotel trains), it would have been cheaper to do the other route, but I´m past caring about money. The budget has been blown. I have made so many money and first time Europe errors, but like Julz said, there is no use beating yourself up over it. I´ll know next time...right now, I´m just happy to go home.
I do miss America. I miss reading the newspaper (online doesn´t do it for me), I miss good service in restaurants (not asking for the check and getting it 10 minutes later), I miss my bed, my shower, I miss macaroni and cheese with ketchup, chick patties and skim milk.
I feel silly for saying that, as if I don´t appreciate the amazing adventure I have had. But I think we all get to a point with certain things where we know that our heart just isn´t into it. All the churches look the same to me. All the museums have pretty, old paintings. I´m not eating very well and keep losing weight (which is usually a good thing, but not in this case). And I just miss the states.
And I´m done whining. It is raining outside and I´m going to go play in it...