Friday, May 3, 2013

Spain Entry #1

I made it to Spain! The flight didn't really feel that long either. It was a nice flight and I got a decent amount of sleep. I also saw two movies. I had two full meals and lots of snacks and water. KLM took very good care of me. I am not as upset now about the 80 dollar baggage fee that I had to pay for my one checked baggage. It's still a rip off because I think I paid enough for my flights for it to be included but that is how the airlines make their money isn't it?

All right so I got into Amsterdam at 3:15pm and headed to customs where I was quickly given a stamp to enter the EU without a single question about how long I wanted to stay or where I was going. Granted, it said that my final destination for my flight was in Madrid but still, I think it is crazy how much privilege I have as an American traveler. The two Peruvians in front of me were asked how long they were going to stay and what they were planning on doing while in Europe. They probably make more money than I do and I know they have nicer electronics that I do (I saw them as they went through security.) and yet they are considered more of a threat. I think everyone should be treated equally when traveling. If someone does decide to stay in another country and is able to find work, more power to them!

I digress. My flight to Madrid from Amsterdam got in early and my bag came out right away! I found Emy and Gamaniel waiting for me at the exit. It was so great to see both of them! Emy's first comment to me was "How long has it been since we have seen each other?" My response: "We saw each other last May when I was in the States." "Oh right!" Haha. Love it. I am so excited to have 2 weeks with her. Gamaniel's driving instructor picked us up and dropped us off at Gamaniel's apartment. I met Luz Ynes, my almost 4 month old niece and her mother Luz. I had lots of presents to give Luz  Ynes including a doll of a serrana holding a baby that are typical in Cusco. She got lots of clothing from the rest of the family and Marco added oatmeal and beans that can't be found in Spain. Gamaniel cooked us a delicious chicken soup with sauteed chicken and fries as the main course. It was delicious. He works as a chef at a Peruvian restaurant here in Madrid. We took lots of pictures. It was super cute. I hope to be able to see him again before I leave. I would like to buy him a drink. It's the least I can do for his hospitality. He also accompanied us to our hostel and gave us good advice for places to see and things to do. It is always nice to have a contact in a new place. I love being that person for anyone who visits Peru. I am at your service!

We got to our hostel/hotel and started looking into reserving train tickets instead of renting the car. We ended up buying tickets in person at the Atocha train station today. It was a good idea since all the stuff online was confusing and we weren't sure we would be getting the right tickets. We are all set to go to Toledo, Valencia and Barcelona. We have yet to book Barcelona to Madrid because there is still a chance we could rent the car in Barcelona and drive it to Madrid and stop in little towns and what not along the way. I love road trips. I know Emy is itching to use her International driving permit as well.

Today we walked about central Madrid and after buying our train tickets we headed to the botanical garden. It was really nice and green and smelled delicious. Something I definitely lack in Lima is access to greenery and a variety of different plants. We took lots of pictures and had very good conversation. There was also an art gallery inside the gardens. One side was more contemporary stuff and the other was all about plants. We spent our time in the plant section.

After the gardens we headed to a restaurant called A Comer (Let's Eat, roughly translated). We had a cous cous salad, baked salmon with greens and zucchini and vanilla pudding for desert. It was a ton of food. 10.90 Euros is a good price for a menu but it is still 14 dollars and 14 dollars would get me 5 lunches in Lima. Talk about a difference in cost of living!

After lunch we headed to the Plaza de Sol and I got some money exchanged. It was a beautiful sunny day today and after all of the walking we did we were ready for a siesta so we headed back to the hostel. We noticed that most stores were closed until 4:30pm which is typical here. Siestas are taken very seriously as they should be. People should get their time to relax during the day. American companies should take note. Then again that would mean Americans would have to become more patient and relax a bit more. Emy and I were talking about how working until you drop is a part of our culture that could use some tweaking. Life is not all about a job or making money. You have to enjoy yourself and take time for yourself too. Otherwise, what is the point?

Tonight we are going to head to a place that is known for their tapas. We hope to check out some live jazz music too. I highly doubt we will be doing any bar/club hopping tonight since things don't get started until after 2am and sometimes 3am depending on the place. We prefer sleep. Haha. We will make sure to get a taste of the night life at some point on this trip though. I am currently taking antibiotics for a bug I had earlier this week so no alcohol for me for a few more days at least. No plans on going crazy with it either. I would like to try some Spanish wine though.

I am going to wake Emy up now. It is her turn to write a blog entry. Her blog is if you are interested in following it. She is going to be traveling throughout Europe for the next 6 months.

I will try and go back and add pictures when I get the chance.

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