victims and perpetrators at the same time: Thomas and me, time of events: 20070303-20060310, place: Spain. mainly Andalusia.
on Saturday 20070303 we flew from kingdom of horizontal rains – Goteborg to Madrid. i cannot say sunny since it was 11pm when we landed. we few with ryanair [called by Thomas flying concentration camp. i’m not so harsh and just call them ‘biedronka’ airlines].
we landed on Barajas – international airport and took metro [1E/ticket] to center of the city. we reached youth hostel but there we experienced overbooking [i thoguht those things happen only in isp business]. we got directions to [allegedly] nearby hostel and found ourselves walking around Madrid on Saturday night. quickly we discovered first thing about Spain: not all people speak English.
around 00:30 we reached hostel, took our backpacks off and took a walk around the city. honestly – nothing special – yet another big city in the night: half-drunk crowd on night-out. 1h walk around the city was nough to change my plans – no chances i’ll drive from the airport to the center of the city to pick my travel-mate from the hostel – i’ll get lost 100s of times on one-way roads.
on Sunday morning we took our backpacks and got back to the airport to pick up the car. hertz sales people succeeded in persuading us upgrade from peugot 307 to ford focus with tdi engine. instead of 160E 7 days car rental costed us 200E, i think upgrade was worth it. happy and frightened as usual i took a seat in front of steering wheel, and then it was just clutch, ignition, reverse gear, acceleration… off we go. ~400km for the first day – from Madrid to Cordoba via A4/E5 motorway to Cordoba. i heard Spain is in many ways similar to Poland, but for sure not in the quality of road infrastructure. Spain is decades ahead of Poland – during most of our trip we drove over 2 & 3 lane mostly free highways with speed limit of 110-120 kmph, maybe surface was not perfect but sure it was good enough to drive safely at 100kmph. just before reaching Cordoba we took short break in small town – Bailén. we did small shopping and robbed orange tree. oranges are sour, but still eatable.
Cordoba – we entered the city, Thomas took some testdrives on empty square [not only he can get car moving but now also can switch gears], after that parked car ~2km away from the old town and took a walk to find our hostel. what we found knocked us off – we got private room in probably recently renovated very clean and cosy place. also with help of receptionist we discover what was later very helpful – it is
possible to park cars almost anywhere including old town / center of cities. you just have to be patient and search long enough for white dashed line on the curb. we took car near hostel, took our stuff to it and went for a walk around the city. in every city it took us a bit of gasoline and few road offenses [mainly driving in the wrong direction on one way roads] but we never paid for parking. i liked Cordoba a lot. probably first or second best place i saw. it was calm, without to much rush, not many tourists etc. old part of city is full of maze of narrow streets and sometimes collapsing houses. we ate out and kept walking till late night.
on Monday we did even more sightseeing in Cordoba [including parts of new town], we also did major shopping in carrefour supermarket [we have those in poland as well]. next stop was Carmona near Seville. we decided to take longer way via A431 rether then via A4/Ea5 highway, it turned to be good choice – on the way we spotted castle on the hill – it was Almodóvar del Río. we couldn’t have resisted stopping and taking a hike around. we continued a journey and it started getting dark – i got stressed as usual: are lights turned on? probably not.. how to turn them on? anyway we got to Carmona. and started crazy ride across narrow streets of old Town. few times [especially when takin over parked cars] it’s a miracle car did not got scratched [ i heard few times nasty sound of scratching/bumping ]. finally we gave up, parked car in front of some hotel and continued search walking around. hostel was actually very close. and i should not call that place hostel but rather 3 or 4 star hotel – it was best accommodation we got during whole trip. evening walks around the town, good night sleep, wake up at the morning, breakfast and off we go.
Tuesday – Seville. crazy ride around the city in search of: center of the city and then parking place. and then walking around. Seville turned out to be construction yard in the old town and abandoned semi-industrial place at area of Expo ’92. anyway – usual scenario – we found touristic information, got a map, walked walked walked, did some shopping, walked walked walked. we did not intended to stay in Seville, actually we did not had anything booked for that night. we decided to go to Cadiz and see what happens then. at ~19.oo we reached Cadiz and started walking around it in search of cheap accommodation and later parking place. we found both [ and discovered that at off-season times one should: find old town, find parking place near it, find reasonably priced pension or hostal near the parking place. it is doable ! ]. usual evening walks, good night sleep and..
Wednesday morning: yak – it’s raining :/ . we drove to Tariffa – still raining. Gibraltar – finally it stopped to rain. Gibraltar is British indeed. so there is border crossing [we queued for 5min while entering it and for ~20min when leaving]. we saw: airport which is cat in half by the road, legendary rock even Morocco coastline. but what we haven’t seen are [allegedly only wild European] monkeys. when we ware close to Gibraltar i found two english-speaking radio stations i realized that all stations we’ve been listening before was playing in ~90% non-english music – that’s rare nowadays i think. evening: we reached Marbella and hostel we’ve booked. evening walks: there is plenty of Brits all around, as we learned they buy plenty of properties along whole sea coast; in the evening wind blows sand from Africa – strange feeling to be at the seacoast and have tiny dust blown into your face [ while you’d be rather expecting humid air ].
Thursday – Granada. city was not so stunning but we we took a ride to Sierra Nevada and that was perfect idea. +2500 m above sea level it was quite cold – long trousers+winter jacket finally ware useful – there was snow around and people skiing/riding snowboards. we walked around the village (?) and took short hike.
Friday – we took ~400km long ride to Toledo. It was together with Cordoba and Carmona best place we’ve visited during the trip: cosy and not so big city. during evening walks we’ve saw Stations of the Cross. seeing it with plenty of people participating surprised me: on the one hand i knew spain is quite catholic on another most of churches we’ve seen ware either museums [one has to buy a ticket to enter] or closed.
back – on Saturday morning we took ride to Madrid, got lost dozen of times in hectic attempts to get: from the airport [we’ve reached to early] to the shopping center and then from the center back to the right terminal at the airport. finally we parked in ‘car return area’ of hertz and returned car-keys at 13.55 – 5 minutes before the deadline.