Madrid 2002-06-17


Forty Degrees in Madrid, but the important thing is that I found a hostel bed.  Wandered the city, went to the Prada and to the great Modern Art museum as well.  Fabulous medieval arms collection at the overdone Museo Real.  Had to stay one extra day because of the General Strike.  I had lost my hostel bed, but managed to find a room for rent in someone’s house.  The atmosphere of the building was noisy and boisterous, but nice to experience for one night.


San Sebastian 2002-06-21


What a beautiful city!  Art Nouveau on the Beach.  Arrived on the overnight train and hauled my big yellow bag to the bar for a tapas breakfast and to watch a German victory in the World cup.  Then hiked up to the top of the hill to get a view of the city.  I brought my sweaty self down for lunch and in time to see England go down to Brazil.  Spent the afternoon tanning on the main crescent beach and reading Ulysees.  Then I had the typical bread, cheese, tomato and wine at the other beach near the aquarium.  Had to kill some time at the station where I met a horde of Canadians, a few of them UBC students.  But they were all going to Madrid or Lisbon, and I boarded the overnight train Barcelona.


Barcelona 2002-06-22


The only really good hostel on this trip, on any trip in fact was here in Barcelona.  In fact most people I have spoken to since said that they stayed at great places in Barcelona, so it might be the city’s doing.  The hostel didn’t have great facilities and was stifling hot, however it had that necessary social atmosphere.  A very chatty crowd at dinner with oodles of Canadians (Quebeckers too!), the city however as silent, since Spain had lost to South Korea in the World Cup.  I met Angelica from an unspecified town in California.  Really I tried to guess, running through whatever fifty I could name. (Yreka?), but she wouldn’t tell me.  Spent two days wandering the city and going to art galleries.  She was proudly Catholic and quickly made it clear that she would only marry a Catholic, not that I asked.  At the end of the second day we wandered down the Rambla in the evening to the pier.  Some couples were there as well as some anglers.  A saxophonist played twenty meters away in some darkened corner, obviously not wanting money and Angelica and I sat on the pier look at the reflection of the ships’ lights in the water.  It was very romantic and no doubt wasted on the two chastest people in Barcelona that day.


Angelica asked me to order her train ticket to Madrid for her. I was honoured, because although my Spanish is limited, I can order train tickets like a pro. 


Granada 2002-06-24


Returned to Granada and checked into the same quiet hostel.  Not much doing, but the good thing was that I had plenty of time to go to the Alhambra.  Just wandered around the peaceful gardens. Was amazed by the intricate detailing on the walls, but I guess the entire horde of tourists was as well.  Had dinner with three girls from Calgary, “And where are you from?” they asked, “Er, uh, Canada, like yourself.”  “Oh, you sound English.”  I may not have sounded Canadian, but English…?


Tanger 2002-06-25


Fell asleep on the ferry from Algeciras.  Earlier in the day, I had met two English girls who were scared enough of Algeciras and terrified of Morocco.  They were still going to go, and I said that if they decided to leave today, I’d take the night train with them to Casablanca.  But it seems that they didn’t change their ticket, and I was the only White guy on the near empty ferry.   Strange, they run every two hours have a capacity in the thousands, and there were maybe forty of us.  I passed through customs on the boat, and then when the port agents checked to see if we had the passport stamp, one custom official looked at my passport and said, where’s this?  The other, said, Canada, and waved his hand.  “It’s okay.”  Passing out of the secure port zone two Europeans boarding the boat said “Good Luck.”  I avoided the Taxi’s and got a hundred metres before a tout as on my case.  I said I wasn’t going with him and didn’t need a tour, so he walked five metres ahead of me.  When I ducked into an alley, as soon as he noticed he looped round and found me again.  Eventually he gave up as I went through the old quarter.  I eventually found a hotel.  Nice big room, dodgy bed, a ceramic hole in the ground down the hall as a toilet.  It even had the bucket and spigot.  Wandered around Tangers, lots of Tangerines about.  An early night for me, especially with the two hours time difference, after traveling fifty miles south.