This “morning” I got up at 10:00 after only around 5 hours or so of sleep. Sadly I was not able to extend my stay in the hostel in Barcelona, since the place was booked out, so it was time for me to pack my stuff. After a rather embarrassing self-made breakfast consisting of a chocolate cookie and an energy drink, I moved my backpack into the community area of the hostel and prepared for check-out.
This time I had learned from my mistake and booked a hostel in Madrid for 3 nights over the internet. My train would go at 16:00 which was in a little under 5 hours, so I asked M. if she wanted to venture out into the city with me. She agreed and we went to the Metro station to head out to a place where there was supposed to be a flea market.
The place (I forgot the name unfortunately) turned out to be an artists compound with multiple smaller halls with an art exposition and a small bar. The flea market actually was a second hand shop. I could not resist to try out some ridiculous shirts and I ended up buying 4 of them. Two are colorfully Hawaii shirts, while one is an elegant black piece and the last one shall remain a secret for now 😛 I can assure you though that it is a very fancy piece.
While we were sifting through the cloth hangers, we met up with M.s friend I. again. She joined our little shopping endeavors for a while. Afterwards we sat down in the sun for a bit. I was telling a story of a bar in Madrid which was a cave where apparently you could order a drink made from alcohol and milk which would come from the ceiling, flowing down some drip stones. I’ll need to visit that place indeed. Eventually we decided to get some lunch in a nearby park and bought some Bocadillas.
And then it slowly got time for me to leave for my train. At the metro station, I said fare-well to M. and entered the metro with I. She left a few stops later, and so then I was on my own again.
At the train station I bought a reservation to Madrid and after following a maze of barriers I boarded the train. During the ride I wrote the last blog post and then watched the landscape that was rushing by outside my window. We were passing impressively steep rock walls and high mountains. Then there were areas which looked like someone stacked hill upon hill, kind of like the way little children draw mountains and valleys. Every now and then there were small Spanish towns scattered across those valleys and I could spot some castles built on rocks and summits.
At some point the sleep deficit showed its effects and I was getting so tired that it became hard not to fall asleep. The seat did not allow me to change into a comfy sleeping position though, so I was stuck in the limbo between being awake and falling asleep.
And then we arrived in Madrid. The train station Atocha seemed more like an airport, having unnecessarily long halls which served no obvious purpose than to contain huge amounts of people and it even had those fast-travel flat escalator-type belts for passengers. When I left through the front entrance, there was a huge pool of taxis waiting on a mutli-lane road, ready to pick up passengers. Personnel was distributing people to the cars to break down the crowd as quickly as possible.
I went by foot though and aimed straight for my hostel which was 20 minutes or so away. I passed a small plaza on which a bunch of children was playing with spray bottles and water-filled balloons. It was great fun.
At the hostel I checked in to quickly stow away my backpack in my room and then I went out again. Without a real plan of where to go first, I somehow ended up on a big plateau between giant palace-like buildings. Here fell into the trap of a sophisticated guilt-based scam attempt by a beggar. I later analyzed his “security exploit”, which was quite interesting:
First he asked for the time, which I gave him. He than told me that he would become a father soon, so he wanted to thank me for telling the time by giving me a bracelet. He insisted on me putting it onto my arm. I later realized that this was likely done to make me feel like I would owe him something back, but since it was harder to take the bracelet off and give it back, I would instead need to default to something else he would requst. Next he handed me a small elephant made of stone. He said something about this being a symbol of his people or so, it was hard to understand him. At this point it was already clear to me that this was an attempt to beg for money, still I fell for it. He was really clever.
Next he told me that since he had done something for me, I would need to do something for him. So he asked for a bit of change to get to his home country. It was now that I was in the morally disadvantageous position of having two items from him. The more or less permanently attached cheap bracelet and the more valuable elephant. Since I could not easily give back the bracelet, I figured the only way out was to give him some few coins. He insisted on more, but I refused. Then he demanded back the elephant and left me feeling guilty, although I totally fell for his trickery. At least now I could take some nice photos of the city.
I continued my way through the city for some more time, but soon decided to go back to the hostel in order to get some much needed sleep.
During the train ride to Madrid, I received some photos M. had taken earlier. One of which is my favorite photo of the tour so far, simply because it was the first picture taken of myself, but not by myself.