Unbelievable Adventure in Spain
I arrived in Madrid, and chatted to a lady from Mexico asking where to stay. They suggested I go to the Information desk.
The Information desk sent me to another one. The other one showed me places starting from 20,000 pesetas, and when I expressed dismay, sent me to another desk. They had no vacancies at all for under 15,000 pesetas.
I am now quite upset, and ask about redirecting my flight. I swear that if Rita was not waiting for me in Berlin, I would have gone home, to where I do not know. That got me down too. I just do not even have a home to run to.
I decided to try the trains and see if that or a bus, would fill in my night hours.
I was told that a festival of antique jewellery in Madrid, had booked out most hotels. So I go looking for the railway booking Office. I was sent away from there to another Information desk, and they too started to shake their heads.
But wait! I hear English! I burst into tears and wail away, like I have learnt to do, in a country where they cannot speak English and no-one wants to listen, and does not care at all about me or what I am wanting.
“I have nowhere to sleep, I can’t find the train Office, I don’t know where to go, no-one wants to know me”…that sort of stuff. It gets results as at least they realise, “Hey!! This Lady is upset!” It doesn’t matter what I am calling out, someone eventually understands that I am needing help of some sort.
A girl eventually rang around, and found me Hotel Astoria, which was charging 5,000 pesetas, which was starting to look cheap. I accepted, then, she went on about how to get there. “A taxi would cost too much, and the taxis are not reliable, they will rob the tourist”., she tells me. I had to walk to a bus, and get off at a bus station, and then take a taxi. It started looking complicated. I tried to change my mind, and she started reprimand me for wasting her time. So, I listened, took the address, the details, and fled.
Then I saw the Budget Cars. I wondered if they would be the same price as a hotel room, as at least I could sleep in the car, if unable to get a bed. They were… 18,000 for 3 days and 20,000 for 4 days seemed very reasonable. I took the 4 days and decided to head for Barcelona, planning to sleep in the car if I couldn’t find a room.
Whilst booking the budget car, an Italian , who said his name was Constantinople, who tried to talk to me, watched me carefully. He attached himself to me, and I thought he too was waiting to book a car, and we chatted in the queue. I had jokingly said he could come to Barcelona with me, and then got concerned when he said he would come. I got nervous then, said it was not possible, left him standing there, and went off to collect the car I had booked.
Whilst looking for it, he turned up at the car park, with two young guys he said were his cousins. As they were together I decided to come and have a coffee with them, and maybe a bite too.
He came with me, and we followed the others in the car they had also hired. We got as far as the gate, and an authority figure wanted documents. I couldn’t get the boot open to get at my luggage. The man got very cross and as cars were piling up behind us, asked me to back into a stall. Well! I
couldn’t get the car into Reverse, and then he started yelling at me, and I yelled back that I had just hired it and didn’t know how to drive it forward let alone backwards. He finally got the message, and backed the vehicle for me. We finally got the boot open, and the documents found, and off I went with a strange man in the car, who had proved to be totally useless in this minor crisis. He had just quietly sat there and smiled.
By now, we had lost the other car. My new friend Constantinople, told me to go ahead into 3 busy lanes of traffic, and all driving on the wrong side of the road. It was a nerve-wracking trip, whilst I familiarized myself with the car, which was a manual. We ended up in Madrid in the heart of the city ,with cars
coming everywhere, where the main fountain was.
He finally got me to pull over, and near the fountain was where I chose to stop as I kept coming back to it over and over again. He went to a phone box and phoned and I thought he was phoning his friends, but it turned out that he was actually phoning for a hotel room.
I really started getting nervous now, as here I was in Madrid with a guy who was now talking hotel rooms, and all I knew was a first name, and “Italian Mafia” kept going through my mind, and it was getting late, and I was also getting tired.
Then he came back, and started to direct me to different hotels. They were all booked out like I told him. I was getting really nervous as I did not want to
go to a hotel with someone I had just met, and who I didn’t even know, and who had no identification. He had watched me book the car and pay for it, , and knew where my wallet, and documents and cards were concealed, and he also saw me count out cash. I tell you I was very nervous.
I finally said that I was not comfortable with all this, and that he could be a murderer or a thief, but with his poor English, I do not think he understood what I was saying, now or even before, as he was in a world of his own.
Finally I stopped the car, and just said, “Out!!! This is not what I came with you for. I am now lost. I still cannot drive this too well. I do not have much money ,and I am tired and cross and I want to go to Barcelona.”
I had to yell and scream, before he finally got message, and got out. I actually felt a little sorry for him. He was quite smart to have picked me up, but not smart enough to have kept me. I left him standing there, looking despondent by the fountain, and just drove off.
I then proceeded to try and hit the country, and find the Barcelona road. Soon
I was hopelessly lost. I saw many different parts of Madrid, whilst trying to work out whether the road I was on was still the main road. I finally stopped at a garage, and I was on way to Toledo, and he said there was nothing there, and turned me around towards Barcelona. I followed his instructions carefully, and next garage found me back on the road to Toledo again. He turned me round and off I went again and when I was lost again, I was on the road to Toledo. I swear all roads in Madrid lead to Toledo.
This man drew me a map, and showed me where to go, and I swear I followed his directions implicitly, and thought I was on the road to Barcelona having passed the airport and back tracked too, and when I stopped to check, I was again on the road to Toledo, and actually going in the opposite
direction again. I was quite exasperated. How could this be?
Here the fun began. Two young policemen were called to assist me. I drew pictures, and told in writing where I had been, and where I was going. They finally understood where I was heading, but were not impressed with
me planning to sleep in the car.
“Not done. Not done.”
Then they rang the station, and I talked to another policeman who spoke some English. I told him where I wanted to go and how I had 4 days. They asked me to follow them, and they would take me to Valdemoro, which is where I am now typing this, from my hotel bed.
So I am now escorted by a police van with a blue light. I come into a town, as so far I had been driving country roads, and it was now well after midnight.
They take me to the Police Station, and leave me sitting out there, whilst they go inside. Then out comes 5 policemen, and we say hello and they laugh. They all examine me, and I stand there smiling wondering what is happening next.
They get more police who also come and inspect me, and finally a different 4 policemen, in two vehicles, escort me from hotel to hotel, where there is no room. There is a bullfight in the town, and all accommodation is booked out, like I told them in the beginning.
The street is very busy with people going out, and all watch me with great curiosity. I am wearing black tights and high boots, which are my travel clothes, I am tall, I have shoulder length blonde hair, which fascinated the police, and I am laughing nervously most of the time. Policemen come out and stop the traffic when it is too busy, and wave me to follow the van. I do. Its quite an experience being escorted by a police car and a police van through the streets at midnight ,dressed like a bullfighter myself. All I needed was a red, silk cape and a Zorro mask and my fame would have been complete.
We finally come to this seedy hotel, and they go inside to inquire and yes, there is a room. They get a key and the man and the two policemen,
and me, go up the stairs to inspect the room. I tried to say no worries, but they do not speak English. I say OK and they say OK and we all say OK and down we go, and they watch whilst the man takes my passport and fills in my details. Then they carry my bags up for me, and leave, refusing a coffee or some money, which I offer along with profuse thanks.
I brush my teeth, get into my nightie and sit here and smile and smile. What an adventure! Its now 2am, and I have just found a bed for the night.
I wonder what the Hotel Proprietor is thinking about his late guest. I bet the police are laughing their heads off, and the two young ones I first met have a great story to tell about the Crazy Australian they met , who was going in the
opposite direction to which she eventually told them she wanted to go.
Barcelona here I come, or shall I stay here and drive the local police crazy?
So ends my first day in Spain.