Last weekend I went on a solo trip to Madrid, Segovia, and Toledo. Well, partially solo. Alex went to Germany to visit his friend, so I decided I would go on my own adventure…
When I woke up on Friday morning I was over-saturated with anxiety. I contemplated “accidentally” missing my flight or using the excuse of a big homework project as a way out. I shouldn’t have been so worried. I was going to meet Nessa’s friend from high school in Madrid and hang out with him for awhile before heading to Segovia and Toledo. After waking up a bit, I talked myself out of the nonsensical ideas running around my head and got on the place. Milos met me at the airport. I immediately felt at ease as he was incredibly nice and laid-back. He’s Nessa’s friend. Why wouldn’t he be? He insisted on carrying my bag for me (as he would throughout the entire time I spent with him) and we went back to his apartment. He had some homework to do, so I ventured off to do some exploring.
I walked toward the royal palace and encountered the Temple of Debod–an Egyptian temple that was originally built in the early 2nd (3rd? 4th?) century BC and resurrected in 1972 in Madrid (see pic below). Egypt gifted it to Spain in part as thanks for their aid, but also because it was in danger of being destroyed by the construction of the Aswan Dam. There’s you’re first history lesson for the day! After I wandered around for awhile, I stumbled across an Irish pub (they always seem to just appear right in front of me 🙂 and couldn’t resist the sweet, sweet call of cider. Milos met up with me shortly thereafter and we went on a little tour of downtown Madrid. We ended up at the Mercado de San Miguel, an old covered market brimming with people, fish stands, cheese, wine, tapas, and other tasty delicacies. It was almost as good as the State Far. Almost. (Can I just insert that Spaniards would fit right in with their love of fried food?)
Later that night, Milos took me out on the town. The first and my favorite place we went was a little bookstore/cafe/pub called J&J Books and Coffee. We walked and jumped right into the start of a trivia game. I rocked the literature and music sections, did ok on the fast food part, and was no help on the sports section (hey, it was a lot of European sports!). Unfortunately, we did not win, but the 30-something British men behind us somehow won. As I was the one who corrected their paper, I saw many crossed out answer replaced by MY knowledge including responses like “Destiny’s Child,” “Vanilla Ice,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Taco Bell” Come on. They cheated. What 30-something man from any part of the world knows the lyrics “If no one is around you, say, ‘baby I love you'” are some old school Beyonce. I wanted to ask them to sing the song for me, but we decided to leave instead.
The next day we walked around Madrid again for a bit before catching the lightening-fast AVE train to Segovia (haughtily Castilian). We did the tourist thing, walked around, took pictures, the usual. The cathedral, castle, and aqueducts were all quite stunning. History lesson parts 2, 3, and 4…The cathedral is known the last Gothic cathedral in built in Spain because it was not finished until 1768. The castle is fairytale-like and I was able to get some great photos due to its perch on the edge of a rocky cliff. There was an off-the-beaten-path walking trail (is that redundant?) among the monasteries and rivers that I walked around the next day. The aqueducts are incredible to behold. Simply seeing pictures of them does not do them justice. Three amazing facts: 1) At their highest, the arches reach 93.5 feet. 2) There is not a drop of mortar in the whole structure. 3) Nobody knows for sure when the Romans built them, but the estimate is sometime during the 1st century. THEY ARE STILL IN USE TODAY!
OK, done with the history, on with the story. Milos returned to Madrid and I checked into my hotel. I watched Desperate Housewives in Spanish and planned my schedule for the next day: wake up, more Segovia, train station at 3, arrive in Toledo at 6:30. I would then spend 1 night in Toledo, get back to Madrid only to spend the night and then catch an early, early flight back to Almeria. I decided to see if there was another mode of transportation to get me home from Toledo. I ended up booking a bus from Madrid the day before and gave up my 7 euro plane ticket. An extra night in my own bed before going back to work was just too tempting.
The next day I woke up, walked into town, had some coffee to chase the chills out of my blood, and trekked around. Having already seen the main tourist attractions, I decided just to do some wandering. I encountered some Jewish pieces of history I had read about and worked on my photography skills. Feeling full of life and happy, I caught the bus out to the train station. Once there, I had a little lunch and relaxed while I read about Toledo. As the train pulled in and people headed towards the via, I reminded myself to print my bus ticket, the bus ticket that says I must have my…oh @$8#…I ran to the bathroom and emptied out my backpack and purse. No passport. Panicked, I called the hotel I had been staying in. “No lo he encontrado.” Joder. But she promised to go look again and call me right back. As the last of the travelers were boarding the train, I had to make a decision. I walked towards the check-in counter, my heart pounding like a double kick pedal. My phone rang. “Lo tengo. Esta aqui.” It had gotten stuck entre the two single beds that they push together. I was ecstatic. I got in line to see if I could exchange my ticket, but the thought of the long ride back into town, walk to my hotel, and then back again only to get to Toledo late and then leave the next afternoon was too much. I opted to stay another night in Segovia and visit Toledo at another time.
When I told Alex this story, he claimed it never would have happened if he’d been there. Maybe he’s right. Our departure from hotels/cities/countries usually goes some thing like this:
Kira, do you have your passport?
I give him my “don’t be silly” smile and reassuringly pat my purse.
I leave without ever opening my purse.
OK, ok. It was not exactly un follón or una adventura. More like lesson learned. I will now obsess about my passport just as much as my dear boyfriend does (who, coincidentally, has also lost his passport before…he never found his, though!).
My mom and Ro will be here in a few days. Hopefully the weather in Almeria stays nice so they can hang out on the beach, then it’s off to Rome!