It was an omen. After four hours trying to get a Blackberry set up for our overseas adventure, as I sat in the airport in NYC, I couldn’t make a phone call. As I waited for my plane, I decided to call my mother and tell her how easy it would be for her when she joined us in Spain. The call wouldn’t go through. If it didn’t work here, how could it in Europe?
I took a deep breath and decided to act grown-up about it (and you know how well I do that). After an uneventful and sleepless flight we descended to Madrid. With our landing, the European attitude descended upon me. Calmly, with patience, I passed through customs, presenting the entrance paper filled out on the plane. The custom’s official handed back the receipt—one I needed to present upon returning—the one that couldn’t be lost. I tucked it into my passport. And yes—but you’re getting ahead of the story.
We picked up our bags, decided to change some, not all our money—mistake two. Got our car and a GPS which should more accurately be named ILT (I’m Lost, Too). Thus ended the well-planned version of our trip.Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia We decided to drive south from Madrid because we had a seven hour layover in the airport—we could drive faster. We’d stay in a hotel whose name we couldn’t pronounce. It was located a mere twenty-five minutes from the airport, and we’d walk about a bit to get the feel of this foreign capital, find a restaurant and enjoy.
"ILT" didn’t know where the hotel was. She directed us through the city all right, brought us to a road just minutes from our destination, then sent us into a tunnel.
And the tunnel went on and on and on and on. And on. (It was a LONG one).
Once back in daylight, wandering crowded streets with no names posted, with directions in spewed out in meters, “ILT” wended us through the shoppers and tourists and Madrilejos, back onto a major road, and somehow back into the same tunnel.
We took a different exit from the tunnel, wended other unfamiliar streets, took a side road, a quick exit onto another road and…yep. The tunnel.
I think we hit that thing four times. Each time, as we entered, the "ILT" told us we would be at our destination in one more minute. It would display the little checkered flag announcing our arrival just as daylight disappeared from the tunnel and we lost satellite reception.
Finally out once more, we took fate into our own hands. We were near our hotel (albeit in two hours rather than twenty-five minutes). We found a garage. Parked. Neil, who did all the driving—(thank you, Jesus)—wanted to take a cab.
We found a Cervaceria, got a Coke, took a bathroom break and asked directions.
And can Spaniards speak fast! The waitress drew directions on a napkin. Somehow we figured she said we could walk faster than we could drive. And I understood next to nothing.
I should say nothing. I couldn’t even follow her directions on the napkin.
We took a cab.
And in two minutes we arrived at the hotel. Neil assured me he could find the rented car, parked in an underground garage, on an unnamed street somewhere in Madrid.
And I found that believable.