Disembarkation and getting to Madrid.
We woke one last time into the darkness of our cocoon. We hugged in bed, one final resting moment before we got into transportation mode. The task: Get to the bike shop. Get me to Madrid.
We contraband two sandwiches for the road. One last ping of rule breaking gilt hit me. Sorry Celebrity Cruises, we owe you two dinner napkins. Customs was easy. It was the Taxi line that we were scared off. My fears of not finding a car that would fit us and the bike bags was put at easy when I saw the taxi vans. The taxi line took 1:45 for us to reach the front. Jonathan was in line as I tried to keep an eye of his status.
Not my first taxi rodeo I thought. I got this. Just has to move the two monster of suitcases we have and two bikebags and shoulder bag and purse to the front of the line at the right moment. Here all the years of family travel were finally paying off. Keep track of Jonathan. Move at the right time. I got this. Why were we worried. We got this. All familiar skills I have done before in one alliteration or another. The cab that picked us up was up for the challenge and off we went to find Green Bikes. Months of planning to come to this bike shop. We find it. We talk to the guy in the shop, only to find out we were at the wrong place. My heart sank. No worries the shop was a few blocks away. Okay relief.
We drop the bags off and I felt nervous. I missed our bike guru from Orange 20 bikes in LA. I just wanted him to be there and greet us and let us he had it from there, nothing to worry about. The guys in the bike shop were busy so the welcome greet was short and quick to the point. Yet I felt like I wanted more. What? Perhaps just reassurance. I wanted them to walk us through it just like TJ so diligently always walked me through my rookie questions in LA. I wanted my hand to be held but these guys were just there to help us build the bikes not to cater to my emotional safety. Okay goal one was complete. We got the bikes to the shop and walked away to complete task number two: Get me to Madrid.
This is really were we truthfully just began to get to know intimately Monster and The Beast, our suitcases.
Monster was a two wheel silver 36 inch expandable suitcase. Complete with a barely working pull up handle. Weighing approximately 75lbs. She was mine.
Beast was a four wheel no pull up handle black brick. Beast weighed approximately 75lbs. He was Jonathan's. Oh yeah and the shoulder bag...
We quickly realized that because of our height, it was easier for me to pull on Beast and Jonathan to take Monster. Beast had one bum wheel from the get go. Like a dormant four headed cerberus I could only push it in a certain angle through streets and hope it kept cooperating. Winding streets of the Gotic Quarter of barcelona and large suit cases don't mix. Actually ANYTHING and large suitcases don't mix.
I can feel how Jonathan's fuse has begun to sizzle. He drags Monster with anger. A bump on the road results on it toppling over and Jonathan yanking it back on course. You know in cartoons when the dynamite stick starts to burn and they have the fuse spark start and there is a wick burn sound. That is what I saw. Large suitcases = fire to our fuse.
Getting to our first metro stop to take us to the train station was a fumble to find. We find it. Okay, no worries all we have to do is get to the train. One three hour train and we are there. We'll arrive in daylight. So far so good. No problems. We decided take our last Celebrity Equinox pack lunch by the plaza in front of Barcelona's Sans train station. Contraband sandwiches again hit the spot. Now on to the train. Easy. Wrong!
We get in line to the ticket counter only to fins out that the 40 Euro train we were planning on taking no longer exists. All we have are 110 Euros a person option.
FAAAAAACCCKKKK. TIZZZ TIZZ.
We ask if there is a bus station and if buses run to Madrid. The Bus station was on the outiside of the train station. Somehow "just to the left" took longer to find. I left Jonathan with Monster and Beast. I am grateful that at least one of us is fluent in the language.
I sprint to the bus station. Ticket office number one, not the one. Run to the next ticket office. The clock is ticking and I have to be in Madrid at 7:35 am hell or highwater. Correct ticket office, wrong bus terminal.
Sprint back to Jonathan. I see him waiting for me next to the police armored car guarding the station. I deliver the bad news. We ask for directions. Easy, you can take the metro to the Barcelona Nord, the bus station we needed. Back into the train station. Only to find that the elevator we needed, because obviously the one INSIDE the station was broken, was outside. Okay option two, bus to bus station. A sun faded bus map is no help. Option 3: Taxi to bus station.
All the mean while we are both confused and angry we got played in the train station. Jonathan had done research! We knew there was a cheaper train!. I retrace my thoughts wondering if I mistakenly asked for another thing at the train ticket counter. At times when I switch between Spanish and English, I miss ideas and thoughts. Did I not ask? Are we heading towards 8hrs in a bus because I didn't listen correctly? Because I forgot to ask? Did I translate correctly? We knew there was a train!
The time ticking closer to 2:00 pm now. If we hurry we could still make the 2pm bus. Getting in at 10 pm. 8 hrs instead of the planned three. At this point we will be arriving at night. Not ideal, not what we had planned. Not the safest. Drag Monster and Beast to the bus station. We can make the 2 pm bus. Thank God! I ask out of curiosity to the ticket lady about the train. She confirms it: there are no more cheap trains to Madrid. They stopped three weeks ago. The information we had was correct, we were just three weeks too late to use it. Relief that I hadn't miss heard the information sets in. Okay... this was our only option.
We are both sulking. We are both angry. We are both silently stewing in our misfortune of the bus situation. In a desperate move to make this bus ride less regretful I get a cold bottle of water and a tuna sandwich.
I need to take a moment to explain why I need to mention this Tuna sandwich. From the moment we left our comfortable Cruise cocoon and tried to make our way to the now failed train, it felt like we were both just lost. We both had traveled. We both had worked foreign metro systems and train stations. Yet for some reason for both of us something we believed was going to be "easy" was proving to be harder to maneuver. Just finding the metro exist to the Sans train station was hard. Then we feel like we just got played by the train ticket officer. Moral was down. I bought said tuna sandwich to boost moral. Last thing we need is to be hangry in the bus or at arrival. I can not deal with myself when I am hangry let alone deal with Jonathan being hangry too.
I asked the sandwich lady which one was her favorite. 5 Minutes before the bus departed didn't have time to think. Tuna she said. Done. Tuna it is. It was a french baguette with tuna clearly overflowing from the opening. Looks good and hearty. It will tie us down. Half way through the bus ride I take a bite into the sandwich only to find myself bitting into a lettuce filled baguette topped off with a thin layer of tuna. Not tuna filled, lettuce filled. A sandwich of lies. A sandwich so far representing my thoughts about Spain: What we thought we were going to get was really just lettuce in a baguette.
At least we were on our way to Madrid. We just had to make it to the hostel.