Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Italians and Brazilians and Americans... oh my!
So, as I said earlier, this weekend was a spur-of-the-moment trip to Italy. Here's the story:
Part 1: En camino al aeropuerto (on the way to the airport)
So, I didn't exactly get to go to sleep on Thursday night. As I had (intelligently) booked a flight to Milan at six in the morning on Friday and the Madrid subway system doesn't start running until five, that was unfortunately not an option. So, I found myself in the position of having to take the last metro of the night before the system shut down... which would mean sleeping at the airport. What can I say? I travel in style.
I was on the last metro to pass through Plaza Elíptica (línea gris), and happened to be seated and waiting near four people (in their twenties) who previously entered with a giant pet carrier and a girl dragging a very unwilling dog by the leash. Well, that, and a whole bunch of bags. I wondered where all those Spaniards were going, aside from the fact that they were obviously bound for the airport with such luggage. This fact was confirmed when one of them started echoing my sentiments (in Spanish)... "are we going to be able to catch the last metro to the airport?" Another answered, "No problem. If not, there are buses that can take you there at this hour." I took a mental note to stick close to these people. If I happened to miss the last metro to the airport, I sure as heck wanted to be around people who knew their way around the bus system.
So, as it turned out, only three of the four people actually got onto the metro when it pulled into the station. One of the guys started speaking to the others about how he would not be able to get back home if he stuck with them on the metro any longer. I realized then that he was not a native Spanish speaker. The other two assured him that they did not need his help anymore, and that he could bajar (get off the train). He gave the standard goodbye cheek-kiss and an adios, buen viaje! to the girl and then left.
With only two remaining, I had the nerve to ask, Váis al aeropuerto? (Are you two going to the airport?) Which then started a friendly little interchange in which I found out that neither of them were Spaniards. She was a bubbly and beautiful Italian girl with thick-rimmed glasses who had just finished an eight-month stay in Madrid, and was returning home with her dog and all her things. He was her adorable Brazilian boyfriend who was cheerfully accompanying her to the airport to see her off at seven in the morning.
When the time came for all of us to bajar as well, I went back over to them and asked, Os ayudo? (Can I help you guys?) To which they looked pretty relieved and accepted since they had about four bags, a giant dog carrier, and a reluctant dog between the two of them. So, when the train door opened, I grabbed onto one end of the carrier and we all started walking (half-running) to the connecting line that would take us to the airport. Unfortunately, since that line is several hallways, escalator rides, and twists and turns away, we missed the last metro to the airport by about sixty seconds. My new friends and I decided to split a cab to the airport, as there was no other way to get there. This meant that not only did we have to find a cab, but we had to find a cab that would fit three people, five bags, a dog carrier, a dog, and a partridge in a pear tree. That was its own adventure. Also, once we got the cab, one of the roads to the airport was shut-down, so we had to get out and wait for a bus to Terminals 1 and 2.
Now, there are several good things about this story... (1) I would not have missed the last metro to the airport had I not helped these people with their dog carrier, (2) I wound up taking a much longer time to get to the airport, so I wasn't sitting in Terminal 1 alone for five hours, (3) they were the nicest people in the planet to hang out with, (4) since we all came from different places, I got to speak Spanish with them all night, (5) I got loads of practice with vosotros (the plural familar "you" that everyone and their mom uses in Spain) and the resulting verb forms, and (6) did I mention how nice they were?
So, to wrap up a ridiculously long story, I got to the airport terminal, said goodbye to my nice travel buddies, and was about to lie down on the floor for two hours to sleep infront of the Ryanair check-in stations... but then I asked a question of one of the on-duty airport security guys, and--wouldn't you know it?--I talked to the dudes for the next hour and a half. Neither could speak English, so that was pretty awesome. I could tell they were amused by my ramblings. That's what I gotta do, though. Talk to old guys. They always appreciate chattin' with the ladies. Even if the ladies mess up conjugating verbs once in awhile.
Until the next entry, ciao.
I will leave you guys with only the beautiful image above of the Madrid metro system. Oh, if only the metro were that awesome in Boston.