Spain 2012

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 11/15/2012
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Getting to Spain:

This trip started off a little inauspiciously. Friday evening before my redeye flight I began to feel sick. Predicably the flight also filled up in the last hours.

Completely exhausted with cold/flu symptoms coming on fast, I was seated in a middle seat next to a large man who slept most of the flight. At least, I assume he was sleeping. Every thirty seconds or so it sounded like he was going to choke to death, and somehow recovered. For some reason sleep eluded me. I arrived in Charlotte early in the morning, having to wait a few hours before reaching Philadelphia. It was then another 6 hours of waiting until the evening flight to Madrid.

Fortunately the wait wasn't too terrible, on account of our United Club Card membership. We were allowed to sit and relax in the US Airways Club and the United Club lounges and get free food and beverages. The United Club lounge is something of a metaphor for United as a whole. The lounge is old and shabby, with limited space and limited refreshments. Its one saving grace was the yogurt covered raisins.

That evening we were all fortunate enough to get first class to Madrid. This plane had special pod chairs in first class which allowed you to lay completely flat. Exhausted and suffering from a sore throat and a runny nose I wanted to eat dinner and go to sleep. Unfortunately it was two hours before dinner was finally served in its entirety. I managed to get 4-5 hours sleep during the flight though, on account of the magic space chairs.

I now present a log of our events and activities starting from when we landed in Madrid. Thanks to my studious note taking and memory I am able to state this log to be 100% accurate, with a +/- 10% margin of falsehoods. Nothing has been embellished for the sake of humor in any way.

Day 1:

08:23:01 - Arrived in Madrid. Apparently much like Ireland security is not a concern. We didn't even need a landing card. At least in Ireland they send you something at Christmas.
08:35:43 - We have now asked four car rental agents where our rental agent is located. They all lie to us and send us out into the rain. We'd take anything at this point.
08:47:12 - Fools that we are, we never thought to look in the structure labeled "Hertz" for our "Advantage" parking agents. We're so gullible.
12:04:23 - Holy Toledo is apparently so named because of the numerous holes in their roadway system.
16:26:26 - After three minutes of sleep Joe tries to convince us he is now rested enough to drive the rest of the way.
16:54:31 - If it wasn't for Joe I would be touring this castle for free against the flow of traffic. (I wandered in with a tour group that had apparently prepaid.)
17:00:00 - This day can be put to rest, we're touring a castle.
21:21:32 - After much driving and asking for directions it is determined that it is impossible to drive to our hostel in Granada.
22:35:01 - The free parking on the street looks like the perfect place to have our car stolen or be murdered. The group consensus is the car park isn't as expensive as we first thought.
24:01:01 - Finally some rest.

Day 2:

08:31:23 - I awaken, eat breakfast, and shower. Hours later, my traveling companions will do the same (except they miss breakfast, on account of it being over).
11:33:32 - We finally leave the hostel to see Alhambra. By Joe's schedule we are precisely on time, by my schedule we are 2 hours late.
12:13:31 - I turn around and discover Joe and Janet are far behind me. I wait for them to catch up.
13:01:12 - After waiting in line for some time we discover they only let a certain number of people into Alhambra at any given time, and we have to purchase tickets for the afternoon.
13:13:31 - I turn around and discover Joe and Janet are far behind me. I wait for them to catch up.
14:00:02 - We are admitted to the western side of the castle, with its towers and old stone buildings.
14:13:31 - I turn around and discover Joe is far behind me. Janet and I don't bother waiting for him.
14:30:01 - Finally we are admitted into the palace portion of the fortress, Joe is nowhere to be seen.
15:13:31 - I turn around and discover Joe and Janet are far behind me. I wait for them to catch up.
16:07:24 - Janet and I have sat and waited for Joe to exit the ridiculously monotonous palace for 45 minutes.
16:47:11 - After touring the gardens it is decided that the Spanish people and the Moors are obsessed with fountains.
19:12:32 - Time now to drive. Drive, drive, drive, to Cordoba.
22:23:34 - Like so many lodgings in Europe, this one is not easy to find.
22:55:12 - Joe calls the hostel owner and tells him we are five minutes away.
23:37:10 - Joe calls the hostel owner and tells him we are five minutes away.
24:01:12 - After parking some distance from the hostel, we are probably only five minutes away.

Day 3:

10:21:12 - The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains. I know this because it has been said perhaps 800 times on this trip already. And it is raining right now.
12:23:21 - They look like castles on the outside, but they are just endless gardens on the inside. (Alcazars.)
14:51:21 - I'm pretty sure this is the only time I've ever had to pay to enter a cathedral.
19:45:12 - Arrived in Ronda, now the endless hunt for lodging.
20:12:32 - That was easily the quickest we've found accomodations on any trip, best town ever!
20:18:45 - This McDonald's does not have milkshakes, worst town ever!
23:04:02 - After watching me suffer for three days and nights Janet casually mentions she has had cold medicine this whole time.

Day 4:

10:23:34 - Ronda's bridge excites my fear of heights, and by excites I mean exacerbates.
14:41:00 - There are no signs to Gibraltar, despite it looming up in front of us.
16:01:07 - Apparently there are apes on Gibraltar, and they have existed there for centuries. It is possible these monkeys are the ones who stole the signs.
16:23:21 - The group (i.e., 2 against 1) decides the Mediterranean Steps are more interesting than a Moorish castle. I leave you to determine which way I voted.
16:24:00 - Stepping time! Just like in Mary Poppins, only without the singing and the absence of steps.
19:12:23 - Fish and chips served to us by a Spanish woman? I came to Spain looking for the quintessential English experience, thank you very much!
23:01:59 - On the outskirts of Seville we locate a hotel that allows us to park right next to it! We have reached the hotel Mecca.

Day 5:

08:33:10 - Too few castles and too many steps (not on castles) calls for drastic measures. I am forced to start marking up the map with locations of nearby castles.
10:01:32 - Sometimes we might complain that castles nickel and dime us for just a bunch of ruins. At least we can say the reason for this is to discourage graffiti and garbage all throughout the place.
11:29:12 - It's a fake Spanish holiday (I guess). The castle is closed.
12:37:12 - More victims of a possibly real holiday, another castle closed.
13:41:03 - Monastery ruins, I'm very tempted to jump the fence. Sensibility prevails though.
16:02:59 - Castle in view, Janet says if we can't drive up there she isn't going up.
16:03:01 - We have convinced Janet to climb up the mountain to the castle.
22:03:51 - With 69 kilometers to go to Avila, Joe declares we will be there in 30 minutes.
22:03:59 - I state that we would need to be going 138 km/h in order to traverse 69 km in 30 minutes and that Joe's statement is intentionally false.
23:05:40 - After an hour of debate Joe is still not convinced that intentionally giving a false estimate is the same thing as lying.
23:32:31 - Would you believe another hostel inaccessible by car? I would.
23:50:11 - 4 castles and some kind of monastery ruin, pretty good day.

Day 6:

09:12:34 - Waking up in Avila is cool, climbing on the walls is even better (no climbing allowed, we walked).
14:32:41 - Segovia Castle, best castle in Spain (that I've seen).
15:22:52 - Waiting for Joe near the gift shop proved fruitless. Somehow he got by us and was outside.
16:11:11 - I don't think you should call something hot chocolate if it is thicker than wet cement.
18:47:22 - Ah Madrid, you hate us don't you? (Quite a bit of time driving around trying to get to our hotel, through toll roads.)
20:33:48 - Elite hacker that I am, I was able to guess the wifi password for a random access point. Thank you, luis2103 near the Burger King.
21:19:19 - Joe's attempts to go to the grocery store one last time have failed. He will only be bringing home two large boxes of cereal.

Getting Home:

The super storm on the Eastern United States caused the flights to fill up. First class was not an option for all of us. But my standby luck continued and I was ultimately able to make it all the way home without sitting in an airport for 12 hours.

It was impossible for me to return to Salt Lake in a single day. Janet was nice enough to come to Phoenix with me and secure us a hotel. The continental breakfast was extremely good, with a large variety of foods. Apparently cops eat at the Hampton Inn for free, as cops were filtering in and out during our breakfast and helping themselves. Either that, or Phoenix has a bunch of crooked cops who aren't afraid to abuse their power.

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Hostal - relating to hosts. (Dictionary.com) Rhymes with "postal" like when you murder everyone due to lack of sleep. (Brent.com) Hostel - an inexpensive, supervised lodging place for young people on bicycle trips, hikes, etc.(dictionary.com)

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