Adios Euro

Trip Start Feb 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 11, 2006

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Flag of Spain  ,
Friday, November 4, 2005

I've only got 14 minutes to write before my time runs out and I have to go and fetch the bus to the airport to catch my flight out of the Eurozone for the last time. I'm in Valencia at the moment after arriving here yesterday evening after a night in Madrid. Unfortunately due to a general lack of time and also lack of organisation (I'll get to that in a bit) I've only been able to have a very brief stay in Spain but it's been well worthwhile. I'll go back a few days to start off with though. I'd originally planned to head to Madrid from Lisbon overnight on Monday night and had bought my ticket at the Eurolines office and was feeling quietly smug at my french conversation with the agent. Basically the ticket agent only spoke Portugese and French and luckily I speak some french and so went about ordering my ticket in French and seemed to be doing quite well, anyway when he was writing out the ticket I asked what time it left and a vingt and maybe a trente (20 and 30 for those who don't speak french) and I saw him writing 2335 on the ticket and so though to myself that that all made, sense that the bus would leave at 11:35pm. So later in the evening I'm hanging out in the hostel with the other guests watching a movie keeping an eye on the time to make sure I'm not late and at one point it was mentioned that 3 american girls who had been staying were going to Madrid as well but they'd already left so I was just figuring they were on an earlier bus. So anyway when it came time to leave I got my stuff and trudged up to the metro and while on the train I thought I'd better just make sure I had everything so I pulled out my ticket and saw that in the time box it said 20:45 and I though 'hang on a second', of course by now it's about 22:15, so I'm getting a little bit worried. Again though I was sure that I'd seen him write 2335 so I was looking all over the ticket for where he'd have written and sure enough there it was in the box marked 'vendor code' so seeing this it was now obvious that I'd made a nice cock up of things once again and spent a few minutes sitting there insulting myself and kicking myself for making such a stupid mistake. It didn't take long though for me to see the humorous side and then just started silently laughing at myself in the end although it was 36euro down the drain but shit happens eh?

I'm now continuing this from London the day after I started it as I ran out of time last night to finish off, so back to it then.

So after deciding that it would be pointless to continue I changed directions on the metro and headed back to the hostel where I received a few curious questions as to what I was doing back there but that didn't last too long. As it turned out I could have chosen a worse night to be stuck in Lisbon as it was Halloween and there were a bunch of Americans at the hostel who were all excited about it and were getting dressed up to go out celebrate so ended up getting roped into another night on the town. We began the night at the Hard Rock Cafe which was actually really cool as they had a halloween costume competition so there were lots of good outfits going around and all the usual jazz you'd expect in an american bar on halloween. Anyway, the night eventually ended as they do and it was back home for another well earned rest.

My last day in Lisbon was a bit of a non event really cos I couldn't really be stuffed getting up to much other than getting another bus organised which I managed to get on in the end. The bus itself illustrated a good point about the supposedly laid back attitude of the Portugese as at least 10 passengers didn't even turn up until after 21:00 when the bus was due to leave and none of them appeared to be at all worried that it might have left without them. Eventually we did get moving about 10 minutes after we were supposed to but that only involved driving about 20m before stopping for no apparent reason for about another 10 minutes when yet another late comer turned up and soon after we did finally get on our way. Arrival in Madrid was a bit of a shock to the system, mainly because we arrived right in the middle of the morning peak hour and the metro station resembled downtown Shanghai with the masses of people rushing about to the point where trying to pass from one side to the other to get to the ticket machine was like trying to cross an 8 lane motorway. I eventually got sorted and found may way, exhausted after the usual lack of sleep that comes with spending the night on a bus, to the hostel where I wasn't altogether surprised to bump into Holly again as she had actually recommended the hostel I was going when I had seen her in Lisbon except that she was just checking out as I was checking in. So, after I'd done the boring stuff like some washing and having a bit of a nap I eventually dragged myself outside and went to do some sightseeing which involved making it to the Reine Sofia art gallery which was quite good with a bunch of Dali paintings which I think are always pretty amazing but I was just to damned tired to have a proper go at it and after a decent look around I gave in to the fatigue and returned home to sleep some more. It all worked out ok though, as I made up for my lack of activity during the day with what I got to see during the night. After a couple of warm up beers at the hostel bar I headed to a bar where they apparently gave you free tapas when you order a jug of Sangria. So as I making my way along with Blohane (I have no idea if that's how it's spelt) an Irish backpacker we were first interrupted by a large crowd who had gathered to watch an improptu drumming display. Basically about 4 or 5 people had got some wheely bins together and were pumping out some really cool drum rythms so we had a bit of a look before eventually getting to the bar where we got stuck into some tasty Sangria and tapas and eventually were met by some hostel folks. From here it was off to find some more fun which involved the mandatory Irish pub. It was from here that the fun really started. I left with three americans and as we were walking along a spanish guy popped out offering to sell us a fake Dolce and Gabbana belt and while he was distracting us (I must admit I let myself be distracted by being a bit of a smart arse back to him) I saw in the corner of my eye another guy sneaking up behind and I immediately stopped and asked Caren who was walking next to me to check her pockets, and sure enough her mobile phone had gone missing but by this time the two guys had already disappeared. It's one of those things you're always warned about but up until now I had never personally been aware of it happening but it's amazing how quick they can be. Anyway, we eventually moved on and ended up in what will defnitely rank as one of the most unique and special places I've ever been to. The american guy, I think his name was Brett, had met an Italian girl on the plane who had invited him to this bar. You wouldn't have taken any notice of it from the outside as all the entrance was was a nondescript door in a nondescript street. We knocked on the door and a security guard opened it us and we were only allowed in because Brett knew this girl, but inside it was amazing, probably nothing special if you're Spanish you certainly don't get places like this in Aus. It was just a bunch of locals playing flamenco music, but it was the sort of stuff you hear on cd's or see on music documentaries. There was a guy drumming and a guitar being passed around while a few different people took turns singing god knows what, but in some amazing voices. I don't know how I can do it justice in words as it was just one of those things you had to be there for.
That about wraps up Madrid, I didn't really get to see the city at all but I still had a couple of great experiences in my night out. The next day it was off to Valencia where upon arrival with nothing but a street name to guide me I asked a taxi driver for directions to my hostel. He of course spoke no English and me no Spanish but with some pointing I was able to get at least part of the way with some confidence although eventually after some time had to admit I was lost and eventually found a book store which had some maps so I was able to find my way to the hostel eventually where I settled in for a nice boring quiet night. Then next which was yesterday and my only day in Valencia I set out to wander the town which I found really quite beautiful. The first views I got were of some really colourful and generally pretty cool graffiti/street art, depending I guess what side of the fence you're on. Once I got into the older part of town though there were some beautiful open squares and traditional old buildings with cafes dotted about the place and it was a beautiful warm sunny day, probably the last one I'll see for quite some time. Apart from wandering through the maze like streets admiring the architechture and a brief lie on the beach I didn't do anything particularly interesting there and eventually got to the airport and hopped on my plane taking me away from the eurozone for the last time, as from here it's just London, the Baltics and Czech Republic and then off to N.America.
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