I was ready to leave Granada, I just wasn’t prepared to navigate newly formed bus routes in a foreign country. Before leaving the hotel, the clerk gave me a heads up on there being a change but he was unsure how it fully worked. I waved ‘Adios!’ and ‘Gracias!’ With The Beast in tow, we shuffled across the piazza and what I had hoped was down the right street, to catch a bus, to catch another bus out of town.
I screwed up and jumped off at the stop that I had been shown to exchange buses at. Thankfully Aussie immigration scarer from the previous night, had turned up with his GF and they were going to the same place as me. I did actually trust his sense of direction and followed him like a little lamb to the estación de autobuses.
Inside the terminus the warm air slunk around like a person who just won’t say goodbye. The beauty of ‘knowing’ other people when you are a solo-traveller is that they look after your luggage when you need to use the bathroom. It’s a logistical thing that doesn’t really fit into trip consideration, especially when you’re travelling with The Beast, which takes up a whole cubicle space on its own.
After sending well-wishes for the rest of their journey I boarded my 9 hour bus to Valencia. Thankfully the seats were roomy, the air con wasn’t an arctic blast, and there was some kind of intermittent wifi on the bus. I was paired with a young twenty-something from the Caribbean, who was spending a couple of weeks in Spain. If you really think about it, it’s kind of awkward sitting with your elbows touching, next to a complete stranger. I tried to counteract this by being polite and introduce myself, offering her some of my lip-tingling seasoned peanuts, and extending some courtesy by not drooling on her when I had nodded off*.
At our first stop Caribbean interpreted the bus speaker mumble to inform me that we had half an hour for lunch. While most of the bus flooded out of the doors and straight into a classic truck-stop style restaurant, I ventured across the road to another eatery. A couple of old men with empty plates and beer drenched glasses before them, sat out in front, under umbrellas. One was reclined with his arm crocked over the back of his chair and his belly proudly protruding, another masticated on the butt of his cigarette, and the other induced some raucous cackling. I ordered some tapas that looked edible, from the glass cabinet, and sat down near the old timers. Another one pulled up right out front and parked with his tyre on the kerb and the arse-end of his car jutting out into the roundabout. I wasn’t sure if he’d already wet his whistle, or if that’s just how he rolled.
Back at the bus, most of the other passengers had spent their leg stretching time enthralled in a game of local football; peering through the netted fence at eye-level from the roadside.
At the next stop I grabbed an ice cream, while the bus picked up some smelly teenage boys. I made a mental note that buying an ice cream in the peak of Spanish summer heat, at a bus station, is going to make that badboy disintegrate in your hand. Never mind the 30 second walk from store to seat; ice cream will melt quicker than the evil green witch in The Wizard of Oz. Thank all of the holy cows in India, that I carry around baby wipes in my handbag.
With half an hour to go, Caribbean and I got chatting about where we were staying in Valencia. It turned out that we were in pretty close proximity, so I suggested that we buddied up and went together. She suggested a taxi while I encouraged the much cheaper option of public transport.
I’d mapped out the cheapest route, which involved taking the underground train for one stop and then walking our separate ways. While looking around for the metro and watching her wrestle her pint-sized suitcase down the stairs, I realised that my style of ‘we’ll find our way, easy!’ travel didn’t compliment her ‘I think we are lost and I don’t know where we are going’. I tried my best to reassure her, but once we had exited and I while was taking a while to locate where we were in relation to where she was going, I could see her shoulders start to tense. She told me that she should’ve just taken a taxi. So by the time I had done my best to explain that her hostel was the next street over, she’d hailed a cab and fled.
The map was actually quite deceptive and I was feeling very scale interpreting challenged. The Beast and I probably spent a good 15 minutes wheeling down several streets, until I had found my bed for the next three nights; just off the grid and under a non-descript sign. But I had managed to make it there just before it got dark; which I’m sure my mum would be stoked to read.
Ah Valencia, you were such a wee gem. Next blog I’ll fill you in on tri-linguating** with my roomies, getting severely lost but not really giving a s**t about that, and wrestling with the scale size of maps in Valencia… which probably lead to me, misplacing myself. If in doubt, blame the map! Until then, X
*I can neither confirm nor deny, but this may have happened before.
** You know that I love to make up new vocab.