The trip from Barcelona to Madrid was the final train trip of our journey. Although traveling by train was a good experience, I was starting to get tired of navigating the stations. It was a relief to exit our last train station.
I found our hotel fairly easily. Only one wrong turn. The hotel was one of our worst yet. It was called the Chic and Basic Atoche. Although it was in a nice location right on Atoche street, the room was way more Basic than Chic. There was no door dividing the bathroom from the rest of the room, which was a bit awkward.
We had lunch at a restaurant not far from the hotel. I asked the lady for a popote, which is how I learned how to say ‘straw’ in Spanish. The waitress had no idea what I was asking for. I had to use hand gestures to get my point across. Apparently the Spain Spanish way of saying ‘straw’ is a lot different than popote. She found it so humorous that she proceeded to tell the other waitress and they both laughed about it. Really? I wasn’t finding it that funny. (*Update* I found out later from a guy from Spain that popote may be a slang word to describe a certain sexual act or for male genitalia – if that is true, I almost can’t blame them for laughing at me, especially with the added bonus of my hand gestures) The food wasn’t great. Seriously, I felt like I struck out most of the vacation when it came to food.
Later we walked up Atoche street and found a really cool market with various types of food (like fruit, cheese, and olives), wine, and candy. If I thought I could have fit one of these big gummy bears made out of tiny gummy bears into my bag, I would have bought it in a snap.
The next morning I woke up feeling like crap. I don’t get colds very often, but it seemed that the hotel clerk from Barcelona had powerful enough germs to infect me and make me feel miserable. This meant that for the remaining two days of our trip, we really didn’t do much. We did a little window shopping and exploring, but for the most part we hung around our (Basic) hotel room and read our kindles. We didn’t even try to be very adventurous about the food. I just didn’t have the energy to convince Kassandra to have tapas. Later when I asked Kassandra what her favorite part of vacation was, she told me that her favorite time was the last two days in Madrid. Really? Her favorite part of the vacation was when I was sick and we just laid around and read? Why do I even bother?
For lunch one day, we had pasta at a restaurant near our hotel. As we were leaving the restaurant, Kassandra ran smack into the glass door. She acted all casual about it, but I am sure she was completely mortified since there was a table of teenage girls right next to the door. When we got outside, she looks at me (almost crying) and says “It’s like I just couldn’t stop myself”. I couldn’t help myself and had to start laughing. In fact, for the next two days, I kept remembering it and would chuckle to myself. Anytime she would hear me laughing, she knew it was because of that and she would hit me.
After 14 days of vacationing, it was time to head back home. We took a very expensive taxi ride to the Madrid airport. At the airport, we were frustrated by the chaos of the KLM check in process. It was very disorganized.
It didn’t help that people were trying to bring on carry-ons that were not carry-on sized. We spent our whole time in line laughing at a family that were hell bent on checking in a million bags. The father seemed to think that if he taped all of the bags, it would make them small enough to count as carry-ons. Then in the line to get on the plane, I ended up being someone that was wearing so much perfume that I thought I was going to have an asthma attack. Perfume and cologne should not be permitted in such confined places.
After our flight back to Dubai, a friend picked us up at the airport and we made the hour and a half trip back to Al Ain. This marked the end of our crazy, hectic, adventurous 14 day journey through Amsterdam, Germany, France and Spain. The next day, as I was driving to Carrefour to buy groceries, I thought, “Wow it is really nice to know where I am going and not feel lost.” Then my next thought was “Wow! I never thought the day would come when I wouldn’t feel lost in Al Ain.” I guess after 8 months living in this country, I am finally starting to feel like it is home.