Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Need to Leave Here. Immediately.

Traveling has taught me a number of things two of which are realizing that you've made a cultural faux-pas (in other words a jackass) and quickly exiting the scene so as to avoid further embarrassment and jackass-ery. Whilst (whath up Iced-Tea!?) traversing across Spain, Kristina and I found ourselves in a number of semi-embarrassing situations that resulted in the creation of a new favorite phrase: "We need to leave here. Immediately."

1: Arrival in Madrid, found the bus (tried to attempt Spanish, painful at best) to the next bus station, bought our tickets to Granada and since we had an hour or so to kill decided to explore this part of Madrid. As we emerged from the station we thought, "Hmm, Madrid is pretty dead for a Saturday afternoon." And then it hit us, afternoon. Siesta. (Which then caused us to panic because we needed beer for the bus ride!) After finding some road sodas we decided we were hungry and walked into a little bar/restaurant (they are all bar/restaurants in Spain) which advertised pictures of sandwiches out front. We stared at the menu. We stared at the food they had under the counters. The worker and patrons stared at us. We decided it would be best to back out of there and go somewhere else.

2: Later that same night, we went out for tapas in Granada. We find a seafood-y tapas bar, order some sangria and toast to our cleverness in finding our way around Spain. The girl brings out our tapas (which are free in Granada!)--a plate of some sort of salad-y thing and what appear to be fried sardines. (I still argue they were headless while Kristina thinks they were full bodied...) Not wanting to be rude or expose ourselves as the tapas-newbs that we were we just at the whole thing. Later, once we were on our second sangria and second plate of tapas I looked at the table next to us. The clearly superior tapas-eating Spaniard had eaten the fish but cleanly removed the spinal cord and bones that we had just consumed. So naturally we asked for the bill, cut up some of the leftover anchovies and uttered the words, "We need to leave here. Immediately."

3: The following day, post Kristina getting a terrible sunburn (and being accosted by Spanish ladies in the train station bathroom crying "Dios mio!!! Ay ay ay!") we had some time to kill between trains in Dos Hermanas. After drinking a bottle of wine on the way there (like I said, it is important to travel with one who shares the same values as you) we were starving and the only thing that would suffice was a kebab. We walked to the town square where they were having a Palm Sunday festival of some sort and began to panic when we couldn't find any food. With only 18 minutes until our train desperate times called for desperate measures. Kristina asked, "Donde esta the kebabs?!?!" And a kindly group of kids told us where to go. Sprinting through (with a full backpack) the streets and celebration we did find the kebab place but something told us we should leave Dos Hermanas, immediately.

4: Our second night in Càdiz we were on the hunt for churros. We thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to get into a cab and just ask the driver where the best churro in town is?" So we did. Unfortunately the cab driver thought we were asking if he made churros. So finally he asked if we wanted to go the playa (beach) and we said si--we realized we needed to get out of that cab, immediately. [After a few minutes we realized that we had gone waaaay far away and just hopped out at some intersection. The bar across the street advertised churros so we went in. No churros to be had but god-almighty! They had Amstell! (I'll get into the depths of hell that is Spanish beer some other time). So we ordered to Amstells but unfortunately they turned out to be disgusting Cruz Campo wearing an Amstell tap. No churros achieved. ]

5. Perhaps the situation we wanted to leave the most was our disgusting "hostel" in Càdiz. When we booked them, we thought, let's splurge (2 Euro more) for our hostel there since we'll have been on the beach all day, plus the reviews said it was really fun. Well "fun" is definitely subjective. When we arrived the guy giving us the tour kept reiterating how they won't clean up after us and blah blah (alluding to the fact that because we had on clean clothes we were snooty and going to leave the place a mess). The characters we met there thought Spanish beer was delicious, wanted to live on communes in Northern California for the rest of their lives and asked why we wanted to go out at night when there were "such good jam sessions every night." Not only were the clientele creepy (Kristina and I decided it was in our best interest to sleep in the same bed, for safety reasons) but the hostel itself was gross. Now I'm no beacon of cleanliness but even I had some standards. You weren't allowed to flush your toilet paper(!), you felt dirty whilst you were showering and there was MOLD on the walls (allergy central). Needless to say Casa Carocol was not the highlight of our trip. We wanted to leave there, immediately.

I guess that's the beauty of traveling though, you learn things about new cultures so next time you'll know how to avoid looking like a cultural idiot. But really, how were we to know to take out the spinal cord, the whole thing was fried!!

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