My train was at eleven this morning, so I wanted to leave my flat around 9:30. Thankfully, I managed to get to bed almost early yesterday and was awake without an alarm around eight. Packing is still a lot of work because I don’t have any spare room and everything has to be packed perfectly and just so, so I like to give myself lots of time.
I really enjoyed my stay in my host’s flat. Another girl joined us the night before last and I saw that if I had to, I could live with the right roommates, a huge revelation. I felt comfortable setting up my office and working even when they were there and I never felt like I was taking up space or annoying my host by staying in the public spaces when she was home. My stay cost me 175CAD for four nights and the cheapest alternative I found, a bed in a dorm, was over 200CAD. So I was really motivated to make this place work and it absolutely did. The only thing that rather sucked was the loooooong climb up to her flat. Here I am on the landing. That is a scary way down!
There are so many stairs to climb. I told her she needs to be clearer in her ad about how bad the stairs are and that her listing isn’t suitable for someone with huge luggage.
One of her neighbours has this great mat that I want for Haven: Welcome to the independent republic of my house.
I had about a half hour walk to Sants train station. As I ambled along, I checked out menus and prices, looking for a decent deal on a croissant and coffee. I almost stopped at a place that advertised a ham and cheese croissant with a coffee for 2.50 euros, but something told me to wait.
I got to Arenas de Barcelona, a shopping mall.
Just after it, I found a café that offered a ham and cheese croissant with a coffee for 2.40 euros. Every little bit helps! It was just shy of ten so I felt that I had time to sit and enjoy my breakfast.
A few doors down, I passed a bakery with nice sandwiches, so I thought I’d found my lunch for the train. But all their sandwiches had mayo. 🙁 The clerk suggested I try their “pizza” and pointed me to large squares of dough with different toppings that she began to describe. I stopped her at “barbacoa,” which is BBQ, as it obviously had a BBQ sauce base, with chicken, ham, and olives. 3.50 euros wasn’t cheap, but the portion was generous and I knew the sauce would be a welcome change to my diet.
The train station was just a short distance later.
I had an electronic boarding pass, so I quickly located which direction I had to go for my platform and then found the bathroom. There was just one entrance for men and women and I overheard an American woman and her husband having an argument over her having to use a unisex bathroom (she preferred to hold it, he said she was being ridiculous). I went through the turnstile and found separate entrances for the men and woman so I called to her that there was a woman’s only bathroom. I’d hate to see her in front of a squat toilet… Personally, when I have to go, I have to go!
I then got in line to go through the check-in desk, and what a long line it was! It was about 10:30 by this point. I don’t suggest getting to Barcelona Sants at the last minute!
Last night, I did some research on Spanish trains and my host confirmed that the fleets have been updated and are super comfy with power outlets and tables for working. So I was very disappointed to find waiting for me a smelly old train with no modern amenities. Moreover, I had to go to car eight and none of the cars were labeled, with just one attendant directing traffic. I was not impressed and will not be eager to take a train again in Spain. Last time I took a train was 16 years ago between Ottawa and Toronto and it was one of those “never again” experiences, with me favouring the bus after. I’m taking the bus to Almería on Monday, so I may feel the same way…
But, thankfully, the train wasn’t full and my seatmate moved to an empty row and I was able to spread out. I was very annoyed that I’d asked for a window seat and that I actually got a wall with a sliver of window behind me. I barely saw anything on the entire six-hour journey. 🙁 But what I did see reminded me so much of Mexico…
Most of the compartment disembarked in Valencia and then we started moving backwards, which felt very strange.
I did some non-transcription work on my computer for most of the trip until I started to get sleepy, then I just played Scrabble on my iPad. It was a pleasant enough journey, but would have been better if there had been a USB charging port and I hadn’t had to conserve battery power as that would have meant I’d have internet the whole way.
By the time we arrived in Alicante, I had 20% battery power, which on my phone means anywhere from all the time I need to no time at all of map usage, so I quickly plugged in my destination, got oriented, and set off, glad that I didn’t have many turns. My hostel was a bit hard to find (no signage), but once I was there, it was obvious. The host is lovely, and greeted me with a cold beer!
My room is huge and has a proper desk, so it will be a good place to work this weekend. My host says that almost all the museums are free, so I may do more exploration than I expected, although I had planned for this to be a work stop. She got me orientated and told me it’s safe here after dark, so as soon as I finish my current job, I’ll head out and look for food. My pizza (which was fantastic!) is starting to feel very distant. 🙂