Travel Fail and Being Stranded in Spain
So back to the beginning:
Last night, all of my friends decided to go out, regardless of the morning flights. And me, I decided to be no fun and to stay in and get some sleep. Except the second part of my plan never really worked out, since no one left until 2am and everyone came back before 4 (aka very, very little sleep). I had an alarm set, and there were other ones set for Sean, who woke up just fine in time for his 7am flight to Madrid. But the alarm for me and Kim never went off. When I woke up three hours after I should have and realized it was already 9am, I knew it was too late to make out 9:45 flight to Madrid…
Being in a foreign country and not having phones or speaking Spanish and all that fun stuff made it impossible for us to get in touch with any of the airlines or airport, no matter how much we tried. So we ended up just heading to GRX to get the next flight to Madrid and then to figure it out from there.
$400 later, we had two tickets on the first flight that went out at 1:35pm. 15 minutes AFTER my 2nd flight from Madrid to London took off. Fail. But at that point, I knew that I just needed to get to a larger airport to get things figured out. If everything went as planned, Kim would be fine. We would land in Madrid at 2:30, which gave her an hour before her original Madrid to Boston flight would take off. So we took that flight, landed, and parted ways. Then my life became hell.
So here I am in Madrid, a foreign country, by myself, not understanding/speaking (or wanting to understand/speak) any Spanish. I do the most logical thing and go to the British Airways counter, since I booked my flight with them to begin with. I was hoping I could cancel my London to Boston flight in time to get some money back for it. But no, the people at BA don’t work for BA… they work for Iberia! So logical. In fact, everyone in the entire airport works for Iberia.
BA sends me to Customer Service, Customer Service sends me to Ticket Sales, then back to CS, there are 5 seats left on a flight to NY at 5:00, back to TS, no that flight is full, back to CS, back to TS, but there ARE 5 seats on that flight and I NEED one, well we can only give you one if baggage agrees to check your bag this late, over to Baggage, we can only check your bag with a boarding pass, but a boarding pass is $2000 can you promise me if I get it that you can take my bag, no? what?, back to TS, can I have a pass, no its too late, its impossible, BUT WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, sorry we can’t help you.
That was about when the mental break down hit. I must have look very attractive sitting in the corner with my luggage sobbing uncontrollably. Fortunately, I was able to call a friend using Skype (thank God for technology!); he calmed me down and put everything in perspective. So with my newfound strength, I made my way back to Ticket Sales for the last time.
“I need a seat on the first flight that you have to Miami. 11am tomorrow? Fine.”
It was so bittersweet- a way home, but a dagger at the same time: what in the world was I going to do alone in Madrid for 18 hours?
I guess I needed a hotel. Oh but wait, my credit card was just frozen for ‘irregular activity.’ Really? I always buy $800 flights in Madrid, that’s not irregular… But I need my credit card! I ran out of Euros. Now what? Call the bank. How? No hablo espagnol? “Telephonico?” “Telephonisita?” “el Telephone?” Ok now how do I work this thing… hello? Well this was a fail.
Again, thank God for technology and for Skype. I used my minutes to call the bank, and some overly happy woman, who sounded like the was from Tennessee, wished me a “great trip!” The irony, it burns. But at least she also unlocked my card. Next step, purchase converted for my now nearly dead computer.
Meanwhile, while all this is going on, I’ve made airport friends! Two other college students from Boston, who are also stranded in Madrid, and just so happen to be the cousins of a kid that I went to high school with! Perfect- I can listen to the English language again! Even better, I can listen to my native English langauge, aka the Boston accent. At this point, we were all in this together. So I probably spent a few extra hours at the airport just getting them settled (they’re stuck until a Monday morning flight to Boston- poor kids). And they helped me out watching my stuff when I had to race all around the airport. It was kind of sad when we finally parted ways.
Anyways, so when I had called my sister in the States hysterically crying earlier, I made her book me a hotel, since my card had been frozen then. When I left the airport, then, I got in a taxi and told it to take me to the Hilton Madrid.
Let me tell you, the Hilton Madrid is THE nicest hotel that I have ever ever ever been to in my history of hotels. It is the hotel of the future! When I walked into my room, peaceful music played from surround sound, and the tv screen read “Welcome Samantha!” The bathroom was more a glass box corner of the room- everything was glass. The walls were stone and mod white wood accented with deep inward shelves. A giant mod red chair accented the corner. The bed was huge, soft. After sleeping in a bed with 4 other people for the past week, this was beyond welcome.
I went in, called some people to tell them I was ok, showered in the shower of angels, stretched, organized my life, set 4 different alarms, and fell into the best sleep ever- at least until the alarms started going off at 5am. A breakfast of angels was delivered on a car built for angels, and I feasted on fresh strawberries, wheat toast with butter and honey, corn flakes with skim milk, and green tea with lemon- my first real, satisfying, my choice meal since I left the US a week before. It’s hard to have a bad day when it starts like that.
So now, I’m just about ready to head back to the airport and give this whole flying home thing a shot again. Really, I can NOT wait to get back. I’m tired and want real food and miss my own bed and being able to take nice long showers. Plus, this is my last week of classes for the entire semester. I kind of need to get home if I don’t want to fail…
I’m just glad that all this worked out. There was nothing worse than the feeling that I felt when it first hit me that I had no way home yesterday. It was such an expensive, stupid mistake… but still a mistake nonetheless. I guess we learn from experience. And I guess that’s life.
But now, its off to the Madrid airport for the last time.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!