Ryanair holds my get out of jail free card

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whatever the lure of Madrid is for Americans still remains elusive to me.  Believe me, I have put some effort into cracking the shell of this place to see what hidden treasures lie within.  About all I can can come up with is a pretty decent doner kebab take out place run by a friendly enough Middle Eastern guy.  Twenty four hours in Madrid and the high point is a gyro plate that cost a Euro more than my plane ticket here.  But hey, I can say that I ate well.

I set out to see Madrid through the eyes of an American who was maybe in Europe for the first time and not through the eyes of someone who has seen over 70 countries.  Maybe this would unlock the hidden secrets to this place and I was excited to see if it made a difference.  Yeah, for Grandma Mavis of Dubuque, Iowa, hearing a different language, sampling different foods, and seeing different architecture probably would give her years of countless stories to regale Enid, Rose, and Louise with at their Monday night bridge games.  That is exactly what travel should do, and I guess I am just after a different experience. 

After an hour of reexploring Madrid, I found myself at an internet store where three American college girls were loudly debating the merits of the city and one of them summed it up about perfectly..."Oh my God.  I am like so over this place.  I have to like ask my professor if I can like leave early for Seville this weekend.  Oh my God."  Her friends agreed loudly with their own "oh my Gods" and "likes."  Now those exact words may not have rolled off my own tongue but the sentiment was the same.  I gave them a quick glance and nodded my head and for the first time I felt like I had some sort of common bond with someone in this town.  Suddenly I felt a little better that it wasn't just me who felt let down by this place.

If a gyro is the best part of a city, some fast action was needed if this adventure was going to stay on track. Madrid had me so down I was even contemplating just flying home early.  I have just one more week to go, and in talking to other travelers and doing researching online, I have come to the conclusion that Milan is definitely worth skipping.  Besides, I can't find a place to sleep there that isn't ridden with crime or bedbugs for under $125 a night.  Even the Lonely Planet guidebook for Milan stated in black and white that a traveler is extremely lucky to make it from Central Station to the Metro without getting mugged or pickpocketed! 

I am shaking my plans up a little and heading this afternoon to Bratislava, Slovakia (with Ryanair of course).  During my preplanning in the States I had originally booked a flight out of Madrid to Frankfurt Hahn airport for, you guessed it, 6 Euros, and had just planned on not using it by flying to Milan instead.  I am so thankful that I had bought this up to now written off ticket, and it's Ryanair of all things that suddenly holds my get out of jail free card this afternoon.  I found a great last minute fare on Ryanair from Hahn to Bratislava, Slovakia for later tonight at about $30 one way and was starting to feel excited again.  Maneuvering through Ryanair's gates of hell to escape this hell isn't too bad for that kind of price.

Eastern Europe is definitely more my speed since it's not on the regular tourist circuit.  A definite rough around the edges quality to its cities makes them all the more appealing to me.   They are great places for me to watch people and experience a way of life very different from my own.  Getting from Bratislava to Krakow to pick up the rest of my trip and Ryanair flights will be a challenge but I am up for it.  I think there is an overnight train between the two cities but I will worry about that when the time comes.  For now I am looking forward to a new found adventure that has breathed even more life into an already exciting and amazing week in Europe.
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