With all of the busy-ness that Khailee has brought into my life, I have had but a moment to catch my breath and reflect on my week in Spain. But before I do, I feel the need to paint a picture of what my first experience in Spain was like.
It was 2007 (a very good year). Mike and I had just begun our dating adventures and decided that after nearly 2 months together (long distance), we would toss in the added
stress excitement of gallivanting across Western Europe. UK was a blast. France was a dream. Portugal was a treat. Spain was…a marathon of Mr. Bean episodes. What happened?
Episode 1: THE TRAIN
Our first experience in Spain was traveling from Avignon to Barcelona overnight by train. We had paid a supplement for our Tourist Class seats and looked forward to some sleep after all of the biking we had done in Provence. What does that get you? Roomy seats that don’t recline….at all. At first we thought it was just our own defective seats but no. By the wee hours, passengers were dropping like flies – onto the floor to sleep in the aisle. I will never forget the sight of Mike – all 6 feet of him – curled up in his upright seat in the most uncomfortable looking position. It was not a good start.
Episode 2: THE SPANISH BATHROOM
Barcelona was otherwise quite beautiful – although the beach along the Med was super dirty with litter and cigarette butts everywhere. That said, we felt quite at home walking along La Rambla. That is, until, we both spotted a mother encouraging her little boy to pee into a potted tree along the strip. Not 5 hours later, we were strolling to find dinner – and a grown man relieved himself in a busy public square. Seriously people – are bathrooms in such short supply in Spain?
Episode 3: THE STREET GRATE
Madrid was a short 14 hours layover. I snapped some photos and ate at a highly acclaimed vegetarian restaurant. Everything was going relatively well until I – without any thought – walked over a grate on the sidewalk. In any other place I have visited or lived, the worst that can happen when walking over a street grate is that your heel might get stuck. In Toronto, with the exception of wintertime, they don’t typically vent. In Spain, the worst thing that can happen when walking over a street grate is that a gust of air will blow up your dress, exposing everything below the belt and your unfortunate decision to wear a thong that day. It’s hard to know how many people exactly I unintentionally flashed but I can say that the humiliation was long-lasting. To this day, I never walk over a street grate.
Episode 4: THE BIDET
After a long trip from Madrid to Algeciras, Mike and I were both fairly excited to experience Gibraltar – the British territory at the tip of Spain across the Strait from Morocco. Although the Rock is formidable, much like with our experience at the Pyramids, the whole place was dirty with garbage and not well kept. (Maybe it’s my OCD but surely somethings are worth preserving.) Compounded by the fact that Gibraltar uses British pounds as their currency, our short time spent there put quite a dent in our travel budget. But really that was nothing compared to Mike’s horrifying experience in La Linea (the small Spanish town that borders Gibraltar). We were waiting to catch the bus from La Linea back to Algeciras and Mike decided to pop into the restroom at the bus station. I generally have strong opinions about public washrooms and I won’t venture into one unless I have some confidence of their cleanliness and condition. I figured Mike would fill me in based on his experience in the men’s washroom. And what an experience it was. Everything was going just fine until Mike walked out of his bathroom stall to find an Irish fellow yelling about how there was no toilet paper and using every sink in succession BUT one as his own personal bidet. Need I say more?
So that was Spain…the first time. (You can check out some of my photos from that trip here.) Did I want to go back? Would you? Thankfully my second Spanish expedition was much more successful. The details of that will be posted on Monday.