My first ever trip to Europe!

Hola a todos. Long time, no blog. Sorry for being MIA this past week– I have been busy with some very important travels…and very persistent jetlag.

My messed up sleeping schedule has caused quite a lapse in my writing abilities, but after a week of settling in, I’m ready to get writing. So here’s a quick recap of my past week to catch you up to speed.

JFK – My first stop in my journey to Spain was JFK Airport, which is definitely not my favorite place. But then again, are any airports actually enjoyable? I arrived a staggering three hours early–thanks to my parents–and made my way to Iberia airlines, which I was taking to get from NY to Madrid. Despite my recurring nightmares about getting lost and missing my flight, the process was relatively painless. That is, if you don’t count the terribly gross, terribly over priced food selection in the food court and the small child that persisted to cry and scream for over an hour in the waiting area.

Flight experience – I guess I should have expected this considering it was a Spanish airline, but all of the flight attendants and the captain were from Spain. The announcements were in both Spanish and English, but the flight attendants only spoke Spanish, and when they dished out the ridiculously awful food, I was almost unable to answer. Not because I don’t know Spanish, but because I’ve never been able to decide what kind of food I want in a 20 second window. All jokes aside, if you didn’t decide within 30 seconds, a random plate of slop was getting thrown at you. Those flight attendants might as well have been Olympic sprinters trying to beat a world record.

Speaking of the food, did I mention it was disgusting? Like the chicken was literally a congealed piece of fat, stuck to a bone, all of which was about the size of my pinky. The vegetables were watery, and the coffee tasted like the inside of Donald Trump’s asscrack. The only near-edible food was the rice, which they somehow managed to not fuck up.

In terms of the flight itself, it was nearly empty. There were only about one or two people to a row, and the other passengers wasted no time taking over entire rows of seats and converting them into full-sized beds using the provided pillows and blankets. The man next to me literally slept in his “bed” the entire time and ignored the seatbelt signs. I was kind of hoping he would roll off the seats so I could take over his bed, but no such luck. Because I was not fortunate enough to get a 4 seater bed, I resorted to curling into a ball and trying to sleep in my two seat row. It did not work.

Madrid Airport – Dear God, this was probably the worst airport experience I’ve ever had. The minute we landed, there was a huge, long hallway to walk down, followed by an array of signs telling me that it would  take 30 min to get where I needed to go. I immediately began panicking, as the airport was nearly empty aside from the passengers leaving my plane, and I wasn’t even sure if the gate on my ticket was going to change or not.

After getting my passport stamped, I continued to follow the signs, only to find out I had to get on a train–which was never ever made clear to me beforehand. A literal subway train arrived to take me to the destination, and as I looked out the window into the desolate darkness of the early morning, I hoped to God I would make it to my next flight in one piece.

Somehow, roughly twenty minutes later, I made it to the next portion of the airport, where I continued to follow a giant maze of signs, all pointing in different directions. They eventually led me to take multiple elevators and go through a very hands-on security experience.

Granada flight– After the chaotic shit show that was getting to the correct gate, I waited for an hour and a half for my flight. Keep in mind, it was 8am there, so 2am in the US and I was very tired, considering I barely slept on the plane (though I did watch a shitty Zac Efron movie that caused me to laugh out loud and wake multiple people up). I finally fell asleep on the Granada flight, which was a tiny, tiny airplane with only one aisle and two or three flight attendants. I had drained myself of all remaining energy during my Madrid-airport-panic-fest, so I fell asleep immediately.

Arriving in Granada – When I arrived in Granada an hour later, I was literally in the boondocks, with nothing but trees and farmland surrounding the library-sized airport. Fortunately, I was able to find the other two students who were on my flight, and we shared a taxi (A Toyota) to the city center, where our hotel was located.

At this point, I hadn’t slept in probably 24 hours and was low key on the verge of passing out. My eyes had become dryer than the Sahara Desert from the plane’s recycled air, so I had to resort to wearing my glasses, which are both ill-fitting and hard to see from. After a bit of stumbling around, however, I was able to make it into the taxi in one piece and nurse my throbbing headache.

The hotel – Before moving in with our host families, my group of study abroad students were going to be staying in a local hotel for two nights. The hotel was called Hotel Reina Cristina, and was absolutely stunning, clad with antique furniture, an indoor water fountain, an atrium, and elegant chairs with lace and metal studs.

After checking in with the hotelier, who slightly resembled the Clock from Beauty and the Beast, we made our way up to our rooms. To my surprise, the elevator was only big enough to fit 2, maybe three people at a time, and seemed more unreliable than my brother when it comes to taking the garbage out. I was barely able to fit all of my luggage into the elevator in one trip — and all I had was a large suitcase and a backpack. (This apparently applies to all elevators in Granada and is a big cultural difference — I will make another post about cultural differences later!)

Phone – After tossing our stuff in the room, the other students (Emma and Ian) and I decided that despite our jetlag, we should go get our SIM cards changed so our phones could actually function. Not the best idea ever, considering we had no idea where anything was and didn’t have access to Google Maps. But hey, it seemed like a stellar plan at the time.

Sure enough, we got lost immediately. We had an old fashioned, printed map, given to us by the hotel, but it wasn’t very useful considering there are NO STREET SIGNS in Granada. (I later found out that there are streets signs, but they are just written on the corner of buildings and are really hard to spot).

Finally, we made it to the first phone provider we could find. Orange. The deal they had there was pretty terrible – a maximum of 2 gigs of data per month, which is ridiculously low, at least by my standards. But we were too tired to look elsewhere and the prices seemed okay, so we committed on the spot and got out SIM cards.

I’ll end this story here since I’m getting tired. After the SIM card fiasco, we ate lunch at a restaurant, and later had a planned dinner, both of which I’ll discuss in my Food Section of the blog.

Until next time, fellow bloggers!

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