My last few hours in the US were spent at Chipotle with my friends. Mmm, Chipotle. I departed from the Albany airport at 5PM on Tuesday, June 21st, and after a connection in Newark, I set out for Madrid.
I wasn't able to sleep on the plane, so I watched Meet The Robinsons on my individual TV. Each movie was free and available with either English or Spanish audio. (I chose the Spanish audio, of course.)
I impressed myself by keeping up with the Spanish, and I even got a little teary at the end. (It's one of those feel-good kids movies…don't judge.)
It was comically easy to get through customs. After waiting in a short line, I greeted a bored-looking security agent with, "buenos días." He looked at my passport, looked at me, then waved me on. Nobody asked me any questions or even looked at my bag.
Although I wanted to check out Madrid, I was tired, and weighed down by my luggage, so I decided to head right to Seville. This turned out to be a very good decision.
With some difficulty, I asked around and found the train ticket office. I had looked up the schedule, so I knew which train to take. But there was one problem: this weekend is Corpus Christi, a major Christian holiday, so there were very few trains to Seville. Fortunately, there was one leaving soon, and I managed to get a seat.
On the train, I chatted with the woman sitting next to me, and confirmed that Seville was the last stop. I asked her to wake me when we arrived, then slept the whole way.
From the train station, I took a taxi to my hotel. I had asked at the station how much to expect to pay, and the driver's offer seemed reasonable. He dropped me off down the block from my hotel. (it's on a very small street inaccessible by car).
I paid him, along with a small tip. He smiled and thanked me. (I later found out that tipping is not customary in Spain.)
My hotel is music-themed, with various instruments displayed in the lobby. My room has a comfortable bed, a microwave, and my own bathroom. There's even a little stereo and a few CDs with classical music. Oh, and a piano just down the hall.
I showered, then set out for a meal. The receptionist had recommended a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, but when I got there, it was closed. Many places here are open in the morning, closed from around 4PM to 8PM, then open again until two or three.
I ended up eating vegetable paella at a small bar. (Paella is a very popular Spanish dish containing rice, spices, and usually seafood.)
The vegetables weren't very fresh, but I was starving, so I didn't mind.
Back at my hotel, I discovered the rooftop patio. I grabbed my sunglasses, my iPod, and the latest publication of Redes Para la Ciencia ('Science Networks'), and relaxed in the evening sun.
After that, I came back to my room, got on the free Wi-Fi with my MacBook, and looked for something to do. I wasn't finding much, so, after some hesitation, I put on decent clothing, and took to the streets.
Most of the streets here are cobblestone, just wide enough for a one-way car lane and a sidewalk, and well-lit at night. Following the sounds of people chatting and laughing, I found my way to busy plaza.
A bit nervous speaking in Spanish, I asked some young-looking people to recommended a nearby local bar. They pointed me to a small place, brimming with lively Sevillians, and devoid of tourists.
Here, I asked more young-looking people what to eat, and how to order. They amicably welcomed me to their table, and we chatted for a while over beer and chicken sandwiches. (Non-vegetarian, I know…. I'll explain in a future post.)
I was jet-lagged and my brain was pretty fried from speaking Spanish all day, so I headed home 'early' (around 1AM) and fell right asleep.