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March 29, 30 & 31 (Days 17, 18 & 19) :

Spanish sun

[Like an upsot tortoise, waiting for the bus between Barcelona and Valencia]

The Thursday afternoon bus from Barcelona to Valencia gave us our first views of Spanish countryside in the daytime, complete with red clay fields and red-roofed adobe haciendas perched on hilltops.

little baby backpackers all tuckered out

[little baby backpackers all tuckered out]

We got to Valencia before it got too dark but found that you can’t buy alcohol at the store after 10 p.m. The trip to the V was mostly an error in planning. With a night and a three-quarter day there, it was mostly just good for a first view of the Mediteranean.

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[Valencia]

Our hostel (Purple Feather) was the first really big one in which we had stayed. It was very much trying to be hip with the kids with very bright colors and themes. And attract the kids they had…mostly young, inexperienced drinkers. Our 4-bunk room was fine except that through the night if I so much as breathed hard – let alone thrashed around per usual – it squeaked bloody murder. Infuriating. Our German roommate told us about how in Barcelona, her French boyfriend had been held, with a knife to his throat, until she gave the perpetrator all her money which amounted to 100 Euros (135 US).

The hostel had spacious hot showers, a great location and a bag check, so we could go explore knapsack-free. It was a pretty enough city with a lot of bridges over where used to run a river. Now there are extensive parks, paths, recreation areas and – under one bridge – what appeared to be a large community, laundry hung out to dry between park trees. It was too cold for the beach, but I imagine it is way packed in the summer… and they had a crazy climbing web.

spidey web

We peeped through a gate at the closed bullring and saw a matador practicing against a guy pushing a pair of horns on a bicycle wheel. That’s my favorite memory from Valencia, and I wanted a telefoto lens.

Yes, kids: Valencia was just a fine city to visit. The biggest trouble was getting out…alive.

Just kidding. It was more expensive and confusing that fatal, but that was a much better cliffhanger.

We had hoped to catch a train or bus from Valencia to Seville, but not only were they very expensive; they were also sold out. We instead took a bus to Madrid (making a Big Dipper between Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and Seville). A Nalgene of box wine made for a less-tedious/more-bladder-filling trip.

wining

I saw signs for La Mancha and lots of windmills and enormous bull statues.

windmills

[modern day adversaries of Don Quixote]

We navigated the Madrid Metro with ease, ending at another bus station on Mendez Alvaro street with 15 minutes to buy Seville tickets and board the bus. Our seats were in the very last row of a full bus and across from some dickbag. He seemed to be scolding a young Moroccan kid about staying out of Spain, after which he proceeded to listen to his “music”/cell ring tones. Everyone was trying to sleep, but if anyone looked at him annoyed-faced he said, “What – you don’t like it?”

The very back row is usually five seats wide. In the seat space between us and the j-hole, they had installed a metal earplug-dispensing box. At one point, the road condition was poor enough to jar change out of the machine. So bad news – brain aneurism from trying to rest against the fucker; good news – I got a Euro out of the machine.

We got into Seville before sunrise with no idea how to get to Taiko’s apartment. Repeated calls to her phone accomplished nothing except a loss of Euros. We later learned she’d been to a dubbed version of 300 the night before and had forgotten to take her phone off silent. I slept for a while with my stocking cap rolled down to my chin and my sweatshirt hitched up over my nose to stay warm. Two cups of coffee and a tostada (a thick toasted piece of bread) later, we finally had contact and made the 20-minute walk to our new home for the next weeks.

Taiko welcomed us, looking lovely as always except with a fading black eye. She explained she had been making the drunk walk home from a discotech when a man sidled up to her, asked her for a light, asked to walk her home, and despite her firm declines of his requests, grabbed her and tried to kiss her. She hawked up some phlegm and spat in his face. He backhanded her, and thus began a scuffle. She said she scratched, tore and screamed at top volume every English swear word she could string together until he gave up. At home she shook with adrenaline and noticed the blood on her clothes – all his. In two years in Seville she had never encountered anything like that; and though a little apprehensive at first, we had no problems. But seriously – holy fucking shit, man.

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