I haven’t been traveling alone since 2011. South East Asia. I wound up with a bout of bad luck and a collection of entertaining, but slightly painful “misadventures” to blog about. I’m hoping for better luck this time.
There is one thing you can say about traveling alone… there is plenty of time to self-reflect. And write. My last adventure in Europe, back in spring, was what I would call action-packed. Or Guinness-packed. And since coming home from that trip, life has been BUSY. Not bad busy. Just busy. So this go around, my first trek to the Mediterrainean Coast, I hope to relax a little more. Catch up on my reading. And of course, my wine. (Or wait, did I ever fall behind?)
The flight to Amsterdam was delightful. Once again, thanks to the perks of being air crew, I managed to find myself enjoying the eight hour plane ride in style, upgraded to the World Business Class section on KLM. The experience went a little like this:
Movie (while unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep, even laid all the way back in my extendable seat)
Free ceramic Dutch house filled with gin, to add to my collection
So that was awesome.
Unfortunately after clearing customs and getting to the gate for my next flight to Barcelona, I got the unfortunate news that the flight was full. And being that I am a standby guest, I had to wait for the next flight. At 2PM. Sigh. So I switched to flip flops, picked up a cheap little bottle of red wine and found a quiet corner in the airport to sit and pass the time (conveniently located next to the KLM lounge which I had “accidently” overheard the password to…). SNEAKY!
For those of you that may find yourselves at AMS in the near future, and may have exhausted the two free 15-min sessions of free airport wifi… loiter around the lounge. The password is klm and the date. Like this: klm20130925.
I nodded off the entire second flight, so completely missed the feeling of anticipation whilst looking out the window as you’re about to land in a bright, shiney, new place for the first time. And as the final bags were picked up at the luggage carousel, I came to the horrifying realization that, for the first time EVER in my life, my bag had not turned up. Panicked, and running on only 1 hour of sleep in the past 36 hours, I blinked back tears as the baggage agent told me reassuringly in broken English, that I would hopefully have it by tomorrow and it would be delivered to my hostel for me. He also handed me an emergency overnight kit which consisted of a plastic toothbrush, q-tips and an oversized white tshirt. Frustrated, upset and all too aware of how much more dramatic I was making this due to my sleep-deprived state, I skipped the budget-friendly metro adventure I had planned and took a 25 euro taxi to my hostel (good decision, well worth it, no regrets).
And from there, I had to shop. As much as my body was begging me to climb into that top bunk I had been assigned four floors up, I couldn’t. I needed clothing. I didn’t even have underwear! And being the lost-bag virgin I was, I really didn’t know what to expect–whether the “in the morning” prediction was optimistic or not. So I showered the stench of travel off and left the hostel in search of clothing (with my arms folded across my chest in attempt to conceal the black lace bra that was making itself visible through the thin white fabric of my stylish new t-shirt).
Lucky for me, Barcelona is FULL of shops! Within a block of my hostel I had not one, but two Zara’s, amoung other options. I selected myself a black silk camisole and a black sweater to go with it, as I had noticed it was slightly chilly that evening. And then I was on the hunt for underwear. I don’t know if there is an actual department store in Barcelona with reasonably priced undergarments, but I couldn’t find it. What I did find in large number, however, were the “gourmet” shops of ladies lingerie. So, I am now the proud owner of the most comfortable underwear known to mankind, lucky me, but I won’t be able to eat for the last day or two of my trip due to budget constraints.
But they WERE horrifyingly expensive.
As I turned a corner, deliriously sleepy and pleased with my new purchases, I spotted my first instance of Gaudi. Here I thought I would have to tour to find this stuff, but instead I had just stumbled upon it. All lit up at night. Better. This building, on a corner, with rounded balconies that looked haunted and cartoonic all at the same time, stood out from the others. It looked like something you would see at a fun house. And I recognized it from my guidebook. Gaudi. Wild. Impressive. I liked it.
I had worked up an appetite shopping. Or maybe I just hadn’t eaten all day. Or since the morning. Or whatever time that was. I didn’t know what city, country, area code or time zone I was in at that point. But I knew that familiar ache of my insides, so I sat myself down at a table on the terrace of a place called Taller de Tapas (which I stumbled upon, but had actually been on my list of places to try in Barcelona as per a recommendation from my friend Anthony). I ate garlic shrimp, I drank wine and I watched as Spanish couples, dressed up in their finest fashions and their reddest lipsticks, walked hand-in-hand out to dinner. Or home from dinner. Or perhaps, dancing. Hell if I knew where they were going, or anything else about this place, or the people in it. But I was hopeful after a little rest, I might have the energy to get up and go find out.