This day was one to live in infamy. We awoke with London, Indian food in our bellies and sadness in our hearts. Leaving was definitely not something we wanted on our schedule. Packed and ready to catch the bus to the tube, we knew that today would be a day of traveling. Bus to tube, tube to airport, Heathrow airport to Madrid airport. This is when it got interesting.
As we land in Madrid the stewardesses inform us that there is a strike and the metros are closed. Perfect considering we were there 5 days earlier and learned exactly how to get there. Ok time for plan b. Our spanish has been used for 6 weeks all over this country and we got around find. We can do this. First lets get some money. Carting our bags around we find out that all of the ATMs aren’t working. Literally we can’t get money out. Now no metro and no money.
The American Express woman tells us that theres a bus that costs 2 euro opposed to taking a $30 cab. Alright, we can do this. To the bus! After a 5 minute bus ride towards the city I ask our driver if there is a bus that goes to the Plaza Mayor. Now this is something that every city has but since we were outside Madrid I assumed he knew what I meant. But you know what happens when you assume… He says yeah take bus 12. Perfect, 12 costs 4 euro, not bad we pay and board. Again I ask him does this bus go to the Plaza Mayor, he assures me it does. Onward we go feeling nervous but excited we figured it out without just taking a cab.
My good feelings immediately leave me as we speed towards the airport, passing small houses and heading for the Spanish countryside leaving the tall towers of the city of Madrid behind us. Emotions of frustration and fright begin to fill me. We are leaving the city and going in the direction of Barcelona. Great.
Christine goes and asks him if we are going to the Plaza Mayor he says yes, which seems odd. The bus stops 20 minutes later and he says in English, here is the Plaza. Some of the people are laughing and I am ready to explode. We exit the bus with our bags and find out that we are in Alcala de Henares located just outside of Madrid. The birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes and one of the oldest universities. A great place to visit but not where our hostel is. Pissed off with my pockets full pounds not euros we are left standing in this city. I see some guys down the street huge bags waiting for the bus, definitely backpacking Americans. They let us know that there is a bus station that takes you downtown just around the corner. 5 blocks of pouting, yelling, ranting and speed walking we find the station. The train does not look appealing so we decide whatever we’ll take a cab. This is when we meet Miguel, our guardian angel.
He drives us to our hostel in Madrid. Along the way he commends our Spanish and teaches us about his city. He explains the history of the Plaza Mayor, the University and other buildings that we pass. Finally safe at the hostel we thank him for the ride and go to check in. As our hectic day of traveling ends we head for some wine and our last taste of Spain.
The day filled with doubts and worries comes to an end. We forget the chaos with some ice cream, tomorrow we leave for home. Our crazy study abroad travels are coming to an end. I know these are moments I will never forget.
gracias por todos España, hasta luego