Friday, 17 July 2009

Europe AGAIN. (8th June)

London - Madrid
Day 1.

Today we woke up at the crack of 5am... *shudder* My alarm did go off today – thankfully we didn’t have a re-run of the last trip where I rolled out of bed, into my clothes and out the door. The annoying thing about this beginning was that our plane left from Gatwick airport – not Heathrow. Gatwick is pretty much the crappy airport where all the crappy airlines fly from.
So we walked all the way through Egham to the train station, changing trains and finally arriving. We got there – ready to check-in – going to take our wheelie bags on as carry-on just like last time but OH NO. We just had to get the crazily efficient staff member of EasyJet who demanded that our bags had to fit into this little cage. Now I measured my bag – and it was fine – but these cages have really thick bars so they take off a good couple of centimetres so – of course – our bags didn’t fit. This meant we had to queue and EasyJet being the bloodsucking airline that it is charged us each 16 pounds to check the damn bags in. Because of all this we had to get through security as fast as possible because our gate was closing! ARGH! My purse got inspected because I think the staff were afraid of my umbrella in the x-ray. Miranda didn’t have a plastic bag for her liquids and was told she had to go all the way back to get one. Miranda then pointed at three bags lying behind the woman and asked for one of those. The woman slowly turned, sneered and said “You got lucky”. Sigh. Airline travel is such fun.
Anyway we sprinted to the gate – made it – PHEW – and watched other poor people be harassed by this efficient woman. “You’re only allowed ONE piece of hand luggage” and forced some poor man to get his little camera case into his backpack which is promptly pulled out again after he got by her. Ridiculous. Don’t worry everyone – it gets worse.

Once we were on the plane everyone sitting around us had really bad gas. This became a bit of a trope for our trip as every flight we had without fail had some really gassy individual nearby – and, no, it wasn’t Miranda. Whilst, inhaling the poo smell of all those around us we experienced the bumpiest flight of all time. The plane never levelled and that constant squeezing feeling made me more and more nervous eventually resulting in me having a minor panic attack. The people on the other side of us had a good old stare whilst I burst into tears of fear and the flight attendant came over and tried to calm me down but it was Miranda’s singing of the “Sound of Music” which made everything alright. Maria Von Trapp’s “favourite things” really do the trick. Thankfully, we made it alive and arrived in sunny Spain! Here is our first picture – looking as tired and shiny as we did on the first arch!

Miranda noticed that the landscape of Madrid looks dry and dusty – just like both of our respective homes! Of course Miranda came into her own with her e with her excellent Spanish speaking (she still won’t admit it).

We got off and had a huge long wait for our bags – damn EasyJet – easy MY ASS. This flight made me realise that you’re better off paying more for a flight rather than getting this cheap-ass one and then paying for EVERYTHING separately. From then on we referred to EasyJet as SleazyJet.
Changed my lovely pounds into Euros once more and went through customs. I told them I had some apples to declare and Europe being laid back as ever said that I should just “eat them” and it would be fine. Done and done. We caught the lovely clean metro (that’s right Madrid had a clean underground train system – it is possible!) to our hostel and “winceslas” all round. Remember loyal reader, that winceslas is Miranda and my code for when people are staring at us. We realised it’s because we were so pale... everyone here is very tan.

Got to our hostel and it’s very nice. Private bathroom which was going to be a mixed room of four but we managed to be with two girls. Of course – they were American. We did the whole introduction thing and, I don’t know if I’ve told you, but these girls would ask “where are you guys from?” to which we’d each reply “America” “Australia”. The people would then turn to Miranda and ask “Oh wow where in America?”. Australia is not important to anyone else. This happens frequently throughout the trip so just imagine.

We went out to explore the town and see what it had to offer and my goodness. Madrid is my favourite place. It’s BEAUTIFUL. The weather was lovely and the everywhere you look is just... really nice. Flowers, lovely buildings and I just felt really safe the whole time. We went shopping and the best part of Madrid was how reasonable the prices were! Whilst shopping Miranda realised that she was totally at home in Spain... though the fan's spelling was a bit off... close enough... I got yelled at my a shop lady because Miranda took this photo... I was confused - what was the mannequin pointing at?

Our hostel is in the Puerta del Sol which is close to the Plaza Mayor which we then walked to.
It’s this lovely big square with buildings all around and loads of buskers... the most impressive buskers I’ve ever seen all lined up. One was covered in wet sand and not moving (I assume he or she was alive) one was just a head on a fruit bowl and another was dressed as a goat! We stopped and had delicious churros and chocolate! It’s like donuts with warm dipping chocolate.
Then it started absolutely pouring with rain. Remember the lovely weather I was just talking about? Yeah... it was rained on. And thus it became the coldest day on this trip.

We walked back past the Opera House and had traditional paella for dinner! Paella is like a fried rice type dish with delicious seafood all through it. It also had “sweet peeper” which we assumed was “pepper” and not some guy that perved on you from afar whilst you ate... we didn’t notice anyone... You've probably noticed that I look pretty much the same in both the churros and paella pictures... Well... food is good. What more can I say? Also I managed to wear the same shirt in both the beginning of this trip and the last one I think... I guess if you were really keen you would have noticed that.

Back to the hostel for an early night. Hands down. I love this city. It is amazing and I can’t wait to explore more tomorrow!

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