torrie's travels


Espana! October 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 4:11 pm

So I didn’t blog yesterday partially because I ran out of time but also because it was an unmitigated disaster! I got up early and checked out of the hostel and hopped the train to Versailles. All good on that front. When I got to the station in Versailles I couldn’t get out. In Paris when you have a metro ticket you have to frequently, but not always, use your ticket to get out of the station as well as get in. I wasn’t the only one stuck, there was an old man and a French girl. I didn’t have a ticket that worked to get out because I specifically took the regional train out there because my Eurail pass covered it. So I didn’t have a ticket to feed into the machine. I don’t know the story for the other two.

Well, the French girl and I were looking for an employee, although none were to be found. The old man got out and I was all, hey how did he get out? Then a guy was coming into the station and the French girl pushed in after him and stopped the gates from closing. And held them and motioned for me to come through with her. That was nice of her. I totally felt like I was breaking the law, but I knew I didn’t need to pay for another ticket. (Of course there was no conductor that came around checking tickets, because why would there be?)

So I walked to the palace and all I am going to say is that it was awful. I entered the grounds who knows where and ending up walking for ages without finding the palace. There were no signs to speak of. By the time I found it, I had purchased what I thought was a ticket to the palace and realized it was just to the gardens, as I had come in from the back. Once I found the entrance, there was a line of, literally, hundreds of people. It was now noon and I had to leave by 2-2:30 to get back, collect my things, and get the train to the airport. So I didn’t have time to go in. I was beyond frustrated and annoyed at myself. Versailles was basically the main reason I went back to Paris.

So I hung out at the hostel before I needed to go to the airport and I made sure I was plenty early because I had never flown from one foreign country to another, so I wanted to make sure I left wiggle room in case something happened. Well, check-in and security took all of 5 minutes and I was over 2 hours early! Good thing the airport had wifi!

The plane was interesting. We were loaded onto shuttle buses and driven out to the plane and walked up steps to board. I had a window seat, thankfully, because I now understand what it means to fly a budget airline! My knees were touching the seat in front me and I couldn’t even cross my legs! It was cramped, but thankfully not a very long flight (less than 2 hours). It took ages to learn which carousel my bag was going to be on, but then it was there by the time I got there, so I got right on the metro. I had to take three different lines to get my hotel, but it was fine. I hate lugging my bag through all those metro stations, but overall it was ok.  I was just overjoyed to be in Spain.  I have very much been looking forward to this country.  Somewhere I can actually speak and understand some of the language.  (And I have had to use it!!  I had to use it with the front desk lady and with a guy at the ham shop.  I’m not fluent, not even close, but I can definitely get by.  Which is a lot more than I could say for some other countries.)

I found my hotel easily and immediately got the wifi on because I was 45 minutes late for the start of Game 3! It was 4-0 when I turned it on, but we quickly came back. I was so excited. And then we lose on a walk-off error in the 10th. Who does that?

I was excited to get up this morning because my good friend Liz was joining me! I woke up at 8:30, thinking that gave me time to get up and get ready before her expected arrival at 10am. But then I checked and her flight landed almost 30 minutes early, so I quickly got ready, but she ended up being late to get here. We dropped her stuff off and went in search of breakfast. We ended up finding a place on Plaza Mayor. I had churros, OJ, and a diet coke. The churros and OJ were 6 euro and we later found a sign for the same thing, not on Plaza Mayor, for 2.25. Figures.

We then walked around and found ourselves in Puerto del Sol. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting something more like Plaza Mayor. But it was interesting and then we just kept walking. Eventually we decided to head back to the hotel and figure out what we wanted to do today and let Liz get a nap in to fight her jet lag. Then we set out around 3:30-4:00 for lunch. They do things quite later here then in the States (for instance, we went to a restaurant for dinner at 7:45 and they kind of weren’t ready for us…though the place was starting to pick up at 9:30 when we left!).

We had seen a ham (jamon) place that we wanted to try. They are known for their ham here. It was delicious. We had four little sandwiches that we shared. Three different hams and one with just tasty cheese. It totaled 2.40 euro (or $3). Crazy! So cheap. We thought we would find something else to eat, but we didn’t. So we kept walking and made our way to Parque del Buen Retiro. It was a large park, almost kind of Central Park style. It was awesome. Gorgeous flowers, cool trees, fountains, a lake, and statues. It was perfect.

We walked around until 6pm when the Museo del Prado was free (it’s free almost daily from 6-8pm…no idea why anyone would pay to go there). The Prado is an art museum. Thankfully Liz and I are on the same page when it comes to art museums. We like to go see them, but not spend hours and hours at them. I saw some cool paintings, some scary paintings, and some Goya. It was great.

We then walked back in the direction of our hotel in search of dinner. Wood suggested I have paella (possibly at a restaurant in Plaza Mayor), so we searched for that. We obviously found lots of tapas places, but we decided we would do tapas tomorrow. So we found a place that seemed good (and cheap, with the exception of the paella), but it wasn’t in Plaza Mayor. I had a sangria and Liz had a red wine. We ordered the seafood paella and breaded mushrooms. Those were kind of weird, but I ate a few of them. The sangria was SUPER strong, I thought Liz was going to have to carry me home. When she finished her wine, she ordered a sangria as well and it was nowhere near as strong, so we switched!

The paella was very good. And I’m not even a rice person. It was the first time trying mussels, clams, and non-deep fried calamari! It was good! I specifically did not ask what made the rice yellow until I was finishing because I was worried she would say curry. And she did. But then we found out it was saffron. I hope we have as good of luck with the tapas tomorrow night as we had tonight. It was a great day all around!



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