An overnight bus ride to Madrid saw me arrive tired, dishevelled, cramped and generally looking like the angriest man in the world. After navigating my way to the hostel through the metro, I was finally able to conform to this awesome Spanish custom known as the Siesta! I got woken up briefly by cleaners, who were having a loud conversation right next to my comatose body, but that's alright, Ill get there address and go have a conversation in there rooms at 4 am! Madrid is a very different city, with no skyscrapers, lots of parks, lots of amputee beggars, and streets lined with 70 year old hookers in fur coats (just fur coats!). Don't let that put you off though!
Granada is an awesome little town down south in the mountains, surrounded by snow capped mountains. It is hugely populated by Arabs, Hippies and Gypsies (although deciphering a gypsy from a hippy can be a tricky!). They have kebab shops everywhere...kind of like taking a wonder down Sydney Rd...kind of nothing like it too! No need to go to them though, Tapas is free down in this part of Spain, buy a pot of beer for a dollar, and get a plate of food! S o far, Tapas and Siestas are warmly welcomed traditions by me! There were a lot of stray cats in Granada, which seems to attract tourists, who loved patting these dirty old cats. `it seems to me they are no different to rats on a New York subway...don't see anyone patting them?
Orange and Paella country here. I got myself some Paella (rice and fish and vegetables...and a surprise chicken'ss head!). You heard right, a chickens head in my paella...and with it, a lost appetite! Matter of fact, animal body parts are all too familier here, in the markets. Its like a war zone there, Pigs heads sitting on tables (in some cases wearing sunnies!), chickens hanging from hooks (from the eyeball...still feathered in some cases), and the fish section is pretty much like an Aquarium...every species you can think off...but without the pulse! The trees in the street are all orange trees and date palm trees...so if you are turned off by the meat, go shake a tree!
Barcelona was an awesome city, with funky buildings, a cool beach and a vibrant nightlife. Unfortunelty I got there for Christmas, and it was dead! The city didn't start jumping for a couple of days really! Pickpockets ply their trade in this city. A nice heavy-duty chain connecting my wallet to my belt avoided trouble, but there were many a variety of finger prints lining my pockets! Several occasions you will see someone bolt suddenly, with some poor saps wallet or handbag tucked under their wing...they can move too...perhaps they should compete in athletics...then again, they probably make more doing what they know best! Awesome city though, it has everything!
My start to the San Sebastian adventure was anything but smooth! After catching an overnight bus and arriving at 6:30 AM...I went to my hostel only to find it was closed! I waited outside for it to open...(did I mention it was raining...no....well it was!). First one bloke approached me asking for a smoke...and would not believe me when I said I had none. Then he grabbed my bag, but I put my arm accross his chest and pushed him away (in a nice way as not to incite anything!). Then he went for my wallet, but I already had a good grip on it! I finally got rid of him (although he was loitering around the corner keeping an eye on me!). Soon after only, another bloke hassled me. He started showing me soccer moves and got in close and bumped against my hip...and in went his hand to my pocket! I grabbed his hand and pushed him away, and eventually got rid of him too. Fair to say I was getting pissed off, and slightly unnerved, so I picked up my stuff and moved around. It was starting to get light, and some more people were about...and eventually, after two and a half hours, I finally got in.
From there, my San Sebastian stay was great. It's a cool little surfing town. It was here I spent NYE, where no one was out till 2am, not even for the turn of the year! People seemed interested in it though, as the fireworks being shot out of random apartment windows would suggest! Seemed like most the crowd were French. Funny thing is they don't even bother speaking Spanish...they order their drinks and everything in French, the bar staff hate them. You do that in France and you get no where (arrogance...bloody Frenchies!). Awesome party town though...no bouncers keeping tabs on numbers, so the bars are crammed and you literally cannot move, but with 250 bars in the area, there is no shortage of options if it's too packed!
All in all though, absolutley loved Spain, and am very keen to learn the language and go back and be able to, you know, communicate! I did manage to pick up a few words here and there, and was able to understand a little by joining the dots, ie familiar words and numbers. I could have played Bingo at one of their many halls...I had the numbers down pat!
France and Belgium next up...