On Wednesday I flew home from a 24-day solo trip to Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Seville, and Lisbon again. I'm blogging excerpts from the (slightly neurotic) travel diary I kept, and illustrating from memory the memorable and not-so-memorable meals I had...Start from the beginning here.
Day Four - Travel to Madrid
I'm heinously early for my Ryanair flight here at the Porto airport and I had no idea they were so strict about the size of your carry-on luggage. Great big warning signs saying "Your Luggage Must Fit or You Aren't Flying With It" and "Penalty Fees for Stowing Your Oversized Crap" are littered around the check-in desk AND at the gate where I'm currently installed. I'm completely overwhelmingly anxious, convinced they're going to see my bag and tell me it's too big to fly. I'm trying to stay calm and not indulge the waking nightmare about having to obtain alternate travel from Porto to Madrid. The brain sometimes gets going without my full consent, you know?
These clouds out the window are so complex and layered, like sheets of cotton candy being pulled apart, or thick doughy white bread that baked with millions of air bubbles. Many wispy strata are visible down and down and down...I hope that I never get tired of looking at clouds from above.
I had a pretty hilarious experience boarding the plane (avec luggage, I'm happy to report - complete false alarm). As Ryanair is everyone's favourite budget airline, they make you walk across the open and unprotected tarmac to get to the staircar parked at the plane's doors, and of course that's exactly when the skies just open up and let loose on us. We're all, of course, dressed for an indoor plane ride, and our umbrellas are all safely packed away at the bottom of our carry-ons. I guess saving on covered walkways is just another way Ryanair can bring us flights for 10 Euros. Thankfully, there does come a point when you just can't get any wetter, and then it actually, strangely, becomes fun. You give in. You accept. You wait at the top of the stairs, buffeted but smiling, and when you eventually get to your seat it doesn't matter that you're dripping, because the person beside you is dripping.
Oy, well I'm still damp. But I forgot about the time change into Spain so my flight magically just got one hour shorter. Huzzah!
After that incredible airport experience, the bad sleep the night before in the hostel and the frustrations of Porto, I found my way to Agustina's apartment in Madrid and I found her extremely nice and non-English-speaking sister. (Note: I rented a room in this apartment from Agustina's AirBnB listing for my stay in Madrid, and it just happened that Agustina was actually out of the city for the weekend that I was there. Hence the sister.) She let me into the apartment and I very nearly cried.
A bedroom, a bathroom to myself - and not only that, but a living room! What, a kitchen too? I stood in the middle of the living room (a couch? Oh WOW) and raised my arms in victory. One hot shower later and I was ready...for bed. Even though I promised myself I would just nap for a bit and then go out for dinner, I guess the physical and mental toll of walking all day and navigating somewhere new all of the time just got to me, so that when I woke up at 7pm I promply fell back asleep until 9:45pm.
And then I declared defeat. Into my pyjamas I went and slept until 9 the next morning. I sent apologies to my very empty and very protesting stomach, and got ready to explore the city.