When I was in middle school, two of my teachers took a bunch of soon-to-be ninth graders to Europe every year. I was beyond fortunate to go in 1994. However, I was so bummed out to learn that we were going everywhere BUT Spain. I had taken two years of Spanish and wanted to use my skills, man. While I had a great time, I vowed to go to Spain at some point.
Fast forward many years (like 20, but who’s counting, right?). I’m finally in a financial position to go to Spain. I start thinking about planning a trip to Barcelona and Madrid.
Because I do want to travel more, I follow a few travel accounts on Twitter. One day, during a chat, someone asked about a good tour company for solo travelers. One of the companies mentioned was Contiki. I went to the website, did a search for Spain, and discovered the Spanish Spree, a two-week trip that went all around Spain, not just Madrid and Barcelona. And I wouldn’t be looked at as a weirdo or be overcharged for going by myself? SOLD!
I booked the trip and decided to keep a journal of the trip because while I had a great time during my first sojourn to Europe, I only have vague memories of the trip (going to the top of Eiffel Tower, having a pigeon poop on me in Amsterdam, etc.). This was my dream trip, and I didn’t want the same thing to happen again., so a journal it was!
I ALWAYS underestimate how long it will take me to pack. ALWAYS. Today was no different. I’d booked a SuperShuttle and I had less than an hour before it shows up. In the middle of throwing stuff in my suitcase and sneaking peeks at the clock, it dawned on me that I hadn’t gathered my passport. Keep in mind I hadn’t been out of the country in 21 years. I’d never needed a passport when traveling. So I went to where I’d been keeping the passport. It wasn’t there. Seriously.
Time’s a-ticking. I proceeded to tear up my condo to no avail while fighting back tears. The shuttle driver arrived, and I asked him to wait a few minutes while I continued searching. He was kind enough to wait for an extra ten minutes, but he had other people to pick up, so he left.
Next, I drove myself to the airport. I don’t want to relive this horrible story any more than I have to, so I’ll just say I talked to the most unhelpful, unsympathetic customer service agent ever (actually, she was a supervisor which makes her attitude worse). Anyway, I returned home and tore my condo up AGAIN. I finally found the passport (hiding under a pile of clothes on my bed, seriously the ONLY place I hadn’t looked). Great, but by this time, I’d missed my flight.
I called the airline and asked how much it would cost to reschedule my flight. I’d already looked online and kinda knew what to expect, but was hoping they had some secret airfares not on the website. Newsflash: They don’t. I can’t bring myself to tell you how much it costs to reschedule a flight to Spain. Just know that it’s A LOT. Like A LOT.
So my choices were:
1. Say “Forget it. I just won’t go.” But that meant that I’d be out the cost of the trip, and I STILL wouldn’t have made my dream trip to Spain.
2. Suck it up and give the woman on the phone my credit card number.
Obviously, I chose option 2. To make matters worse (yes, that’s possible), I had to wait until the next day to fly out. Yay.
At this point there was only one thing left to do – watch Step Up AND Step Up Revolution on MTV. I’d never seen Revolution before. It was all right. I had to make sure not to ask myself too many questions like, how did the (supercool) dance number at the end of the movie convince the villain to change his mind? I would’ve been like, “That’s great, guys, but I’m still going to do what I want to do.”
And thus concludes Day One of my trip to Spain. Just know that typing this up has made me want to throw up.
Photo of the Day
Tomorrow - Day 2: Things Are Looking Up