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Spain travel diary, part 2

July 30, 2003
The Iranian

We both slept a bit before we landed at the surprisingly warm Barcelona airport. Made our way through passport check and walked to where we were going to spend our first day in Spain with our backpacks.

I was wearing a pair of black pants, yellow tank top and a black shirt on top of that and while waiting for our luggage to come through, I entertained the idea of taking the shirt off to cool down from the heat and humidity. Safa's luggage came through and she was busy dragging it away from the other passengers as I stood there waiting for mine.

My hair was down so the heat was starting to get to me, this with the exhaustion and hunger was not a good mix for me. I started to take my over shirt off but when it got to my shoulders, I changed my mind and put it back on.

Right then I heard: "Ehhhh Mahmoud... didi?! Daasht dar miyovord haa... Che heyf..."

A split second had not passed when I turned to him and said. "Martikeh kesaafat... agar Farsi nemifahmidam ye chizi... khaak too oon sare kesaafatet!"

After explaining the situation to a confused Safa who had returned with both our backpacks to find me inexplicably screaming at a random stranger, we loaded up and headed out of the airport to take the train into central Barcelona.

(I would like to mention at this point that "loading up" was a tricky maneuver involving getting down into a position that looked like a weightlifters squat, simultaneously trying to wriggle our arms into the constantly tangled straps of the backpacks and then attempting to stand up again without rupturing internal organs).

The air-conditioned train was what we both needed, as we sat with our maps and planned how to get to Madrid. Luckily for me, Safa is much more organized than I'll ever be, so she had pre-booked our hostel in Madrid and got all the information on how to get to the train station and which trains would take us to Madrid and the costs etc.

With this information and my undying trust in Safa, we arrived at the Main train station in Barcelona. Confidently bouncing through the station with our backpacks, I actually recall comments like "so glad we bought backpacks... so much easier to get around", " this isn't bad at all" and "look at those poor people pulling their luggage".

As we drifted towards the counter to purchase our tickets for Madrid, we were faced with large lines of fellow travelers also wanting to go to Madrid and after the 20 minutes of waiting we were finally face to face with the teller.

Boldly, Safa (whose Spanish is much better than mine, but that's really not saying much) said:
"Dos boletos a Madrid por Favor."

To which, we got the reply, "Perdon, No hay mas tickets hacia Madrid hoy, pero si quieres, puedes regresar una hora antes de que el tren departe para ver si hay ticketes que han sido reservadas pero no recojidas. Gracias."

Like a proud Mother, I looked at Safa and was certain that she had an answer to whatever it was this woman just said, only to hear "Um, do you speak English?"

"Yes, there are no more tickets to Madrid today, but if you would like, you can come back one hour before the train is going to depart and see if there are any tickets that had been reserved but not picked up. Thank you" was the reply we received and before we knew it we were pushed out of the way, dazed and confused. (Unbeknown to us this was also the last time that we would encounter a Spaniard who could speak any form of understandable English.)

So we looked at the schedule and there were 3 remaining trains to Madrid, 4pm, 8pm and 11pm. We were certain that we could not make the 4pm train and hence decided to head out into the beautiful city of Barcelona until approximately 7pm, when we could return and get a couple of seats on the 8pm train (which really would be perfect because we could get some sleep and make it into Madrid in time to shower, get dressed and hit the Spanish nightlife).

(to be continued)

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