Quite possibly one of the more awkward and interesting times that I’ve had while traveling was in Madrid, Spain. I think it’s an experience that most backpackers go through at least once during their travels, and quite possibly many more times depending on how long you’re adventuring for. That experience was an uncomfortable sleeping situation.
Madrid, Spain - Day 1
Back in this post here, I mentioned that I didn’t quite care for the Spanish capital. In typical Chad fashion, I didn’t book anything ahead on my trip figuring I’d just go with the flow and be able to leave when I wanted without being locked into a set amount of time in any one place. That type of mentality, however, came to bite me in the ass as I wandered for 4 hours trying to find an affordable place to stay.
When I did find a place, I checked in without hesitation for 2 nights. Now, walking for 4 hours, in 40 degrees Celsius, with a 20lb backpack weighing you down is highly NOT recommended. I think I had a bit of heatstroke and so wasn’t feeling too terribly well. That being said, I took that first day and night easy, staying in the hostel and reading.
Madrid, Spain - Day 2
The second day I was feeling much better. After a brief breakfast at the hostel, I decided to go and explore. And though I didn’t care for Madrid too much, it was interesting to wander through. I saw a street long craft sale of homemade items, all decked out with colourful flags crisscrossing the street from the tops of the buildings. Which, I must admit, was the most interesting thing I saw there. I guess the part I was wandering through was a bit too residential/commercial with not a lot of the interesting bits to see.
After journeying for the day, I decided to stop at a small pub and grab a drink and a bite to eat. After a long conversation with a guy from England and a couple of Americans, I decided to call it a night and head off to the hostel for a good night of sleep. Alas, that was not to happen.
Apparently the hostel that I chose to call home while in Madrid had a curfew for guests and if you missed it you were locked out until 7:00 the next morning. As it so happens, I was about 45 minutes late for the curfew.
What to do? Well, the pub I was in had free wifi. And I had my wallet. I suppose I could head back there and, if need be, check in to a hotel for the night (where I could have a DECENT shower, finally!!). Yup, that seemed like a good course of action. And so I boarded the metro to get back to the pub I was at for supper.
Getting off the train, which wasn’t busy at all, I was quite surprised that I was the only one to exit on that stop. I didn’t think too much of it until I went to leave the station.
Gated and locked. Closed. Guess no pub for me.
After a “what the hell” moment, I figured I’d catch another train and head off elsewhere. I mean, what else could go wrong right?
Well, I could have taken the last train of the night. And I did. There was no other train until 6:15am the next morning.
A six hour wait until the next train. What the hell am I going to do now? Pretty much the only option open to me. I curled up on the cold, dirty, tiled floor in some metro station with a Spanish name, and attempted to get a little bit of sleep. And it was not the most pleasant of sleeps that I had while I was away. On the bright side, however, I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets. I WAS trapped after all. And if there’s no way out, there can’t be a way in.
Unfortunately my terribly miserable sleep was interrupted after about 3 hours or so (time being roughly 4:00am) by two security guards. Where the hell did they come from? They were as surprised to see me as I was to see them! After explaining to them what had happened (one of them didn’t speak English and the other just barely, so it took longer than I was hoping), they kindly opened the gate for me to escape my dungeon and informed me that the train station opened at 5:00am.
All good and well, except all my stuff was locked up in the hostel. And that hostel was closed until 7:00am. So there I was, waiting for the train station to open so that I could wait out the hour there until the metro started running and I could get back to the hostel and wait for IT to open so that I could gather my crap only to head BACK to the train station (via metro) and leave the godforsaken city.
What do you think? Lesson learned? Will I book ahead? Will I make sure there’s no curfew? Maybe. We’ll see what happens on the next trip. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me about your traveling mishaps. I’d love to hear them!