Madrid, Concluded.

Tonight´s my last night here.

I seriously can´t believe it. I don´t *want* to believe it.

It almost feels like that time when I was six years old and went to Jamaica for the first time, and at the end of the three weeks when I was told we had to leave, I cried and cried the night before we left, saying how much I didn´t want to leave. (I won´t cry. Promise.)

But things have been so good. I gained a friend and a sightseeing buddy from the States named Jesse, and we´ve out for the last few days. We´ve been to art galleries, cooled our heels at a park, taken in bullfights and flamenco, and had tapas with fellow travellers.

Today, we became a trio, joined by a guy from Vancouver, named Jeremy. We went to the Royal Palace, where we went from room to room, making jokes and snickering to ourselves. Then we walked on in search of gelato, which we eventually found. SO. GOOD.

Next was shopping … which was kinda short-lived. I did get a cute sweater from H & M, though.

And we decided between the three of us to cook a huge pasta dinner, so we went supermarket shopping.

Vancouver Dude (Jeremy) and I then accompanied Jesse from Portland to Chamartín train station, but not before having one awkward moment on the metro. A Spanish man, who´d been eyeing our American friend from his seat, approached us, and asked him, ¨Are you American?¨

Sensing a confrontation, Jesse instantly said, ¨Canadian.¨ I didn’t get what was going on at first, but later it became clear this man wanted to rant, and when he ¨discovered¨ we were all Canadian, his demeanor changed … and his ignorance of Canada – based on whatever stereotypes he picked up – showed loud and clear. We just smiled and nodded until he got off at his stop.

We talked about it afterwards, and reflecting on it, I have to shake my head at how much that must suck for genuinely nice people from the States who get harrassed travelling.

Jeremy also experienced an awkward moment trying to buy a couple train tickets. He asked a security guard for help, and asked if she spoke any English, only to have her respond in perfect English that (a) she didn´t speak any, (b) the travel centre was closing, and (c) he could buy tickets either by phone or the Internet. (Hmmm … you know, if she came to Canada and was in the same situation, no doubt the person she was asking for help would be waaay nicer about it.) In any case, he somehow worked it out and got one of them.

Meanwhile, Jesse is now on his way to Portugal. I think he´s uneasy about the unknown, travelling through the night in a sleeper car, not knowing what he´ll see when he wakes up tomorrow. But I think he´ll be just fine, especially when he gets down to the beach and dips his feet in that Atlantic water.

And now, with a minute to midnight Spanish time, my turn approaches. I am so not ready to return. But perhaps what I return to will be better than what I expect.

And besides … I´ve already reserved three guidebooks from the library on South Africa. So that might keep me busy when I get back :).

Lost in Sticky, Sweet Seville

Sorry I´ve not been blogging lately. I´ve just not had the motivation over the last couple days. The intense Andalucian heat here probably has something to do with it.

I guess you could say the theme for my time in Seville was that I got lost, literally and figuratively. The first afternoon when I arrived, and I tried to find the place where I was staying (which was a bit separate from the main hostel), I got a bit lost trying to find my way back. Same with my expedition to and from the grocery store. (And after getting lost so much in Granada, I was getting weary of going in circles.)

I also felt kinda lost at the hostel at first, too. Trying to adjust from being in my own room to a dorm room with bunk beds (and dealing with construction noise at 7am in the morning, on top of the crazy heat) …

Even trying to fit myself into a crowd of fellow travellers didn´t seem to come as easy as it did in Valencia. This felt like a bit more work involved. I actually almost asked myself, ¨why did I pay the whole amount for this place? It´s not as great as people are making it out to be …¨

But things slowly started working themselves out. I actually also got a few decent nights out, out of it, and met some interesting people. Two Canadians from Kelowna making a Spanish pit stop in their year-long travels around the world. A Nigerian who lives in Barcelona and decided to vacation in Seville. An guy from Belfast who´s a former journalist but is now a writer (and has a black but wicked sense of humour, to boot). A handful of Australians and a couple Kiwis. And I also ran into a small number of Americans – some living or about to return to the States, others new or recent expatriates.

spain-2007-240Sightseeing-wise, I managed to redeem myself in Seville a bit for not seeing as much in Granada. I got to see the enormous Catedral and Giralda (the belltower which was a former Muslim minaret from the Almohad mosque of Seville), and the Alcázar (the royal palace – beautiful!) … I walked past the bullring, went down to the Guadalquivir River, walked around the Torre de Oro (literally – I couldn´t figure out how to get in!) … walked in and out of streets covered by these huge canopies to keep the heat off … saw the Plaza de España … I could go on.

Two things I didn´t do, even though I said I would:

1) A boat tour of the Guadalquivir River. It would have been nice, but I just didn´t feel like I had the time, or enough energy to tackle it …

2) I broke the vow to myself to see some real flamenco. The hostel I stayed at had a tapas and flamenco night, but they were all local places, very small. And last night – which would have been the night I would have gone – I spent most of it in the pool on the roof terrace of the hostel, then napping, then out for tapas. I think the travelling and pushing myself to try and do as much as possible finally caught up to me. I couldn´t help it, though. It was so nice just to sit there and feel the sun on my back and legs. Oh well. Can´t win them all, right? I hear there might be flamenco I could try and take in while I´m here in Madrid, so maybe I can fit that and a bullfight in there somewhere. But I have to do at least one of the two, otherwise I won´t forgive myself.

So that´s all for now, kids. I´ve now reached my last destination before home, and am in my new hostel (which is in the city centre, brand new, and really nice from what I can see so far). I really didn´t want to leave Seville just yet, and now I´m trying to process that this trip is almost over for me and that I´ll have to return to reality and all that entails.

Hopefully I can end this trip with a big bang.