Monday, June 6, 2016

Hotel Del Carmen

Once we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Del Carmen, it was a sign of relief for both Abby and I because we made it without getting abducted (I know that is a little dramatic but when you are traveling to a new country at 20 years old with no parents for the first time, it can be very nerve-wracking). The taxi driver unloaded the car so when Abby went to pay him with her credit card, I told her to write a tip on there. There was no line for a tip so we said "tip?" but of course he didn't understand any english so we just left it.
CC told us that majority of the workers at the hotel spoke english so I was hopeful we would make some progress there. We hauled all of our luggage into the lobby and checked in. The hotel receptionist was a very attractive Spanish man who spoke english!! He told us that there was a problem with some of the hotel rooms (including ours) and that we were not able to stay in the hotel. We both started freaking out, like what do we do now?! He said that there was an apartment about 5 minutes walking distance that we could stay at, in place of the hotel. He told us the apartment was very nice with its own kitchen and living room and most people like it better than the hotel. The first thing I thought was security since we wouldn't have a lobby with 24hour security. I asked him if it was safe and if we were going to be okay there and he reassured us that we would be fine. There was nothing else we could do so we agreed to stay there. He walked us to the apartment which was sort of in an alley and I kept asking him if we were going to be safe (do you blame me though?!) and he kept saying "yes, Valencia is probably the safest town in Spain, you girls could walk at night alone and nothing will happen." First of all, the walkway to the apartment was all cobblestone and we had to wheel all of our luggage over there which was a struggle in itself and second, as we were walking to the apartment we kept hearing loud noises that sounded like gun shots and we started freaking out. The guy started laughing and told us that it was apart of Fallas, which is a big celebration in Valencia, and that it wasn't gun shots. We found out that it was little kids who were throwing firecrackers in the street when we almost ran into one!!
When we got to the apartment, as soon as we walked in we both thought of the apartment that was in Taken. It kind of looked liked it because it had 2 sets of french doors that opened up to the balcony and the furniture and kitchen just reminded us of it. The guy told us that the hotel room would be ready the next day so if we didn't like the apartment we could move to the hotel. We were glad to hear that we had the option of moving to the hotel if we didn't feel comfortable in the apartment!
^^^ hotel lobby

^^^ view from the apartment

I forgot to mention in my previous post that our airline served us prison food. I felt like I was in Orange Is the New Black because they served it on a metal tray and slammed it down on our lap without giving us an option of what we wanted. For dinner, they served us some sort of beef stew with a couple small sides (all gross) and for breakfast, they served us a frozen chicken croissant and when I say frozen, I mean there were chunks of ice still on the chicken. Needless to say, we didn't eat anything on our 9.5 hour flight and when we had a 4 hour layover in Madrid, we didn't have any Euros so we couldn't get anything to eat there. We went probably 16 hours without eating so at this point we were starving. 
We changed clothes and headed out to try to find some place to eat. CC, our friend who lived in Spain, said that we could put an address into our map on our phone when we had wifi and it would take us to the location without wifi. She told us there was a good sandwich place called Paneria that was close to our apartment and had an ATM right next door so Abby put the address in her phone. As soon as we disconnected from the wifi, the map wouldn't work. Abby thought she could read the map so I followed her for about 10 minutes until I realized we were in a dark alley where the kids were throwing firecrackers and started to freak out. We managed to get back to our apartment and walked to the hotel lobby to ask them where this sandwich place was or just any restaurant in general so we could eat. He told us to keep walking and we would see a huge candy shop that we couldn't miss and the sandwich place is right across from it. We walked where he said to but we couldn't find it so we went back and asked again. We walked and still couldn't find it so we went back to the lobby AGAIN!! He told us we didn't walk far enough so this time we walked a little farther and found the candy shop. Clearly he had never been to Dylan's Candy Bar because this huge candy shop he was talking about was hardly "huge."
We found the ATM and the sandwich place and we both wanted to cry tears of joy (that may sound a little dramatic but just put yourself in our shoes). The sandwich shop was closed but there was a restaurant called Lavin that we walked passed that advertised pizza and sangria so we decided to eat there. My mouth was watering just from saying the word pizza. As we were waiting for our food, we looked around and noticed that everyone was just drinking, no one was eating. After our food came out I realized why... it was because the food was nasty. My pizza tasted like stale cheez-its but the sangria was delicious. After I paid the bill, I gave our waiter 4€ as a tip. He looked at me funny when I was giving him back money but I didn't think anything of it. CC later told us that you don't tip in Spain because they get paid well. It made sense why our cab driver didn't understand the word "tip" or why our waiter looked at me funny. So now you know if you ever go to Spain, don't leave a tip!!
When we got back to the apartment, we were so excited to go to bed after our long day of traveling. But of course we didn't get lucky, the bed felt like bricks. I wish I was exaggerating when I say that. We had to tough it out and just make it through the night to be able to move to the hotel in the morning.
Morning came and Abby decided to take a shower first. She spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the shower then I heard her complaining that the shower liner was all moldy and it was cupping her legs and latching onto her. If there is anything I hate, it is gross bathrooms. I can stand a brick bed but moldy bathrooms I just can't do. After a few minutes, I heard her screaming that the water was ice cold!! So now, here I am needing to shower and not only do I have to shower in a moldy bathroom, but I have to shower in freezing cold water. I waited like 10 minutes hoping the hot water would come back but no luck. I turned the shower on not even for a whole second before screaming that it was too cold and I couldn't do it. We realized that the sink water was warm so I asked Abby if she could go to the kitchen to see if there were any cups so that she could fill it with the sink water and pass it back to me. We did this about 30 times until I had successfully washed my hair and body.
At this point, I was so over the apartment and just wanted to get to the hotel. When CC arrived, she helped us wheel all of our luggage to the hotel. The hotel room was a lot smaller than the apartment but the view was amazing and it had hot water!!! The hotel bathroom was a little bit better than the apartment bathroom because it didn't have a moldy shower curtain but the beds still felt like bricks.
^^^ view from the bed

The only other problem we had with the hotel was that they charged Abby THREE times for the room. She noticed that she had been charged 3 different times so we went down to tell them about it and they didn't know what we were talking about. She showed them her online statement and they said they would resolve it. Then, as we were checking out on our last day (already running late to the airport) they asked to see her credit card to swipe it saying we hadn't paid for the room yet!!! Abby wouldn't give it to them with rightful reasoning so she asked if she could just write down the number on the card... they were seriously about to charge her 4 times for the room. They eventually refunded her her money but they never once apologized or gave us a discount for the inconvenience of the apartment.
Besides that, the hotel was the perfect location. It was just 100 feet from the Serranos Towers and the FSU campus/dorms and about a 10 minute walk to the central area where all the shopping was.
^^^ Serranos Towers (taken when we were sitting at Lavin eating our cheez-it pizza)

^^^ Paneria

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