Tuesday, May 10, 2016

En route to Spain

^^^ always wanted to get on a plane like this (I felt like I was a celebrity getting on their private jet, lol)

^^^ view of Madrid

H&M T-Shirt Dress (under $20!), F21 Cardigan (similar), H&M Coat (reversible!), Adidas SneakersMiu Miu Sunglasses, White House Black Market Necklace (similar), Ricardo Suitcase, 28" Hot Pink Suitcase (similar)

I thought I could fit my Spain trip into two posts but as I was sorting through the pictures I realized that is nearly impossible without them being extremely lengthy. First off, I want to start by saying this was one of the best trips I think I will ever take. This was the first time I traveled to Europe and will not be the last (I am already planning my second trip back). My friend, CC, was studying abroad in Valencia, Spain, so one of my girl friends and I thought it would be so fun to visit her during spring break. So many funny things happened to us on our trip but for every funny thing that happened, I feel like a bad thing happened. I'll try to keep my traveling experience short but I don't know how well that will work out since so many things happened to us, lol! 
As the trip got closer and closer I was kind of freaking out because neither my friend, Abby, nor I knew a bit of Spanish and we were traveling to Europe alone and all I could think about was the movie Taken. I was especially nervous because I felt like I was going to stick out like a sore thumb because of my blonde hair. The initial plan was that CC was going to meet us at the airport but then we found out that the first two days we were going to be there, she was going to be in Ireland. The nerves started to kick in when I realized we were going to have to figure out our own transportation when we arrived at the airport, once again all I could think about was Taken. I talked to my roommate because she studied abroad last semester and she said we had nothing to worry about because Spain is extremely safe, the taxis at the airport were safe and the people in Spain speak a little bit of English so the communication wouldn't be a problem. After I talked to her, I was relieved but then I thought about the 10 hour plane ride and started to get nervous all over again!! 
Funny story! Our flight times worked out perfectly because we departed Miami at 5:30 PM Friday and we arrived to Valencia at 1:00 PM Saturday so we figured we could sleep the whole plane ride and be refreshed when we arrived in Valencia to start exploring. Abby and I decided we should purchase Melatonin for the plane ride but when we got to the airport I realized I left it in the car so we had to purchase a non-FDA approved, knock-off Melatonin at the airport. I have never taken Melatonin so I was especially scared to take the whole pill since it was a knock-off version. I was scared it would either knock me out cold or I would have a bad reaction to it. I dared Abby to take the whole thing (lol) and she did!!! I think I slept more than she did, though so apparently only half worked wonders for me! Surprisingly, I did not get jet-lagged at all and when we got to Valencia I was ready for a full day of exploring but Abby was extremely jet-lagged so we ended up just drinking sangria at a restaurant right by our hotel and called it a day. 
Since Abby and I go to school in Tallahassee, we had to drive 4 hours to Orlando (where I live) and then my mom drove us to Miami (where our flight was out of) which was another 4 hours. At this point we have already traveled 8 hours and we had a 9.5 hour flight to Madrid with a 4 hour layover and then another 1 hour flight to Valencia with a total of 22.5 hours just to get there and then we had to do it all over again coming back. Our first mistake was booking our flight out of Miami. We both agreed we should have spent the extra $150 to fly out of Orlando. We didn't realize how terrible the Miami airport was. I swear Miami thinks they are their own little country because not one person at the airport spoke English, even our boarding pass was in Spanish and we were STILL IN AMERICA! 
We started off on a bad start and it only got worse when we got to the Madrid airport. First of all, the Madrid airport was absolutely beautiful and so unique. They had so many stores, like Zara, Burberry and Longchamp (there is a picture on my Instagram @blushroad). When we got off the plane we were pleasantly surprised because all the signs were in English. We looked at our boarding pass and it said our flight to Valencia was at Gate K. We saw a sign saying "Gate K- 30 minutes." We stopped and asked someone what that meant and they said "gate K is a 30 minute walk to get to!" Thankfully we had a 4 hour layover so we had plenty of time. We went to the bathroom so I could change into leggings because my dress kept riding up on the plane as I was sleeping and I felt like I was extremely exposed, also it was like 40 degrees in Madrid so my leggings and coat were a much better option. 
When we went through customs, they gave me a hard time. The guy looked at Abby's passport, stamped it and let her keep going. My guy asked me several questions (while creepily staring at me) and then showed my passport to Abby's guy and said "blonde American" or something along those lines and both just stared at me for a good 15 seconds. He finally stamped my passport and I walked so quickly to get away from there. Finally, we got to gate K and looked at the flight information display system and it said "Valencia- Gate L." I stopped and asked one of the employees what gate we were really at and she said "you won't know what gate you are until 30 minutes before your flight departs" (keep in mind that it takes 30 minutes to get to some of the gates because the airport is so big). We looked and realized we just came from gate L which was really a 30 minute walk. We walked back over to gate L and looked like little, lost puppy dogs staring at the flight information display system, once again. 
While we were standing there, a girl came up to both of us and asked if we were going to Valencia. We told her we were and she was like "okay, me too!" It turned out that she was also a college student who was visiting her friend who was also studying abroad in Valencia! We were so intrigued by her because she was telling us all the places she has traveled to and that she is graduating early and moving to Australia to become a bartender for a year before starting her career. We sat and talked with her the whole time. We kind of sat in a secluded area of the airport where there was no one around except a man who was sitting behind us. As we got up, he asked if we were going to Valencia. I immediately was like "OMG, you speak English, you are American!!!!" Everyone got a kick out of it, lol! He walked with us to the correct gate (which was gate L) and we all sat and talked, waiting to board. I didn't think anything of him until he asked the three of us where we were staying. Luckily, none of us told him the name of our hotel. He told us that he was visiting Valencia because his cousin was a DJ at one of the night clubs... sketch. When I told my mom this, she thought he could have been a spotter, like in the movie Taken!!! I am so glad we were smart enough to not give him any hints as to where we were staying so I guess watching Taken paid off!
The Valencia airport was much smaller compared to the Madrid airport. Thankfully the girl we met at the Madrid airport knew how to read Spanish so she guided us to baggage claim. She also said that we wouldn't have a problem with getting a taxi and that they are all safe. Once we got our baggage, we walked over to where the taxis were and realized we only had American money. We saw an ATM but on the ATM it said "Do not put in American cards. It will eat them. Use an ATM in the city."We just looked at each other and said "shit." There was a rental car service right across from the ATM so I told Abby that we should walk over there and ask them what they think we should do and luckily there was a guy who spoke English. He told us that some of the taxis take credit card and that our card would work so we walked outside and asked which taxi took card. We found one who took credit cards, he loaded our bags (I think we had 2 suitcases and 3 large duffel bags between the 2 of us.. oops) and off we went! I sat in the front seat so I couldn't see the speedometer but when we got out of the taxi at our hotel, I looked at Abby and said, "Wow, that wasn't bad at all. We made it without getting abducted" and she just looks at me and says "YEAH HE WAS GOING 120mph!!!!!!" I started laughing so hard because I remembered that they drive in kilometers there so that was equal to about 75 mph! 
I still can't believe half of the things that happened to us before we even arrived to our hotel. I didn't think we were going to make it back to America!! I was going to write about what happened once we went to check in at our hotel but this post is already wayyy too long so I'll save that for my next post! 

As I am starting to travel more often, the more comfortable I want to be. Adidas are my new favorite travel shoe if I am doing a lot of traveling in one day. Nothing says comfy and trendy more than Adidas Superstars. Also, I learned not to travel in a dress if the plane ride is 10 hours, lol! Good thing I packed a pair of leggings and a coat in my carry-on.
Stay tuned for more posts about Spain. I promise they won't be this long (hopefully)!!  
xo, Brit