I visited Madrid and Valencia after my time in Barcelona. Sometimes my plans in Europe worked out, sometimes they don’t at all; this was my experience in these Spanish cities.
I had a stop in Madrid as I waited for my train to take me to my next location. The ticket line at the Madrid station was the worst I had ever experienced. To buy a ticket, you must wait at least 2 hours – ridiculous! Not to mention that train reservation fees cost one of the highest in all the European countries.
I wandered around Madrid looking for breakfast across the city; that day I desperately craved pancakes, after searching for hours couldn’t find them anywhere. At a bar, they served breakfast and said they could try making something like a pancake, but from my experience when the locals try to replicate my American expectations, they never turn out the way I want them to. I stopped into several handfuls of restaurants in the city streets, but nothing looked good, so I ventured out to the further edges of the area. I found the cutest family run restaurant; the guy running the place made me feel like one of the locals and hooked me up with some freshly squeezed orange juice and cinnamon sugar twists.
After my breakfast I sat in a city square where a volunteer group had set up a garden of paper red flowers and handed them out to all the people walking by. My next stop allowed me to explore through a large park near a government building.
Exploring Valencia proved to be a test on my patience. My journey to find the right bus to take, to find the correct subway, and then finding the beach from there proved to be the hardest place to get good directions. Everywhere else I went, people could give me easy directions to what I needed to find, not Valencia. After several hours of determined searching for each mode of transportation, I finally made it to the beach. I got to enjoy the spell of seafood drifting from the many restaurants along the edge of the sand; the sand felt like cashmere between my toes. With my luck, a windy rain storm came in about 15 minutes after first being there, so back I went to the hostel.
One thing that I thought was hilarious was that they held alcohol for sale in vending machines. The Indigo Hostel screened at the door, had 24/7 free internet, and full use of their kitchen with pans and silverware. One afternoon I went out to buy some ingredients for making dinner, but everything was closed. Europeans respect the observation of resting on Sundays, but I finally did find a tiny little store that carried a few canned items, so I made some spaghetti.
The day I decided to leave, the weather had decided to be nice, after several days of rain since I arrived. I went to the train station to head off on the 11am train, but my lack of Spanish made it hard for me to communicate where I wanted to go (one of the very few stations that didn’t know English). To top it off, the train I wanted to take had already been fully booked, so I had to wait another 5 hours for the next one. So, I took advantage of the sunny day and took a walk around the downtown of Valencia; which actually was gorgeous and I did some shopping. Because of my booked train, I had the chance to enjoy Valencia on a beautiful day.
Sometimes backpackers don’t have the best luck or things don’t always go according to plan; but it’s funny how everything always works out for the best. We have to roll with the punches, and in my experience, I got to experience more than I imagined because of the hiccups of my plans.