Anyhoo, this story happened on my last night in Spain, before flying home. I was at a restaurant across the street from my hostel. I had packed up everything earlier in the evening, had my clothes ready for the next day, my electronics charging and my alarm set. I was just going to grab a bit of dinner before heading back to the hostel to read and sleep. My flight was early. I had to get up even earlier. But I was ready.
Ready, that is, until a couple of Australian guys sitting next to me (different from the ones I met in Portugal. And is it just me or does it seem like Australians travel a lot? Every trip I go on I seem to run into them! But that’s beside the point) asked me to take their picture. They could tell I was American and started up a conversation. Eventually the said they were going on a pub crawl around Barcelona and would I want to join? Having traveled a good half of this 3 week trip alone, being able to hang out with people was a treat!
We headed down Las Ramblas to the first pub to start drinking. I guess this was a guided pub crawl, so we had a set amount of time to drink in each place before we had to move on. We decided to make the most of it. At the second pub, we met a girl from Belgium who joined us. Then we were off to the third pub. The time (and the drinks) flew by. The next thing I know, I wake up in my bunk at the hostel an hour after I was supposed to leave for the airport.
In a blind panic, I raced around the room collecting my things (and waking everyone else, I’m sure) and ran down to the shuttle stop to get to the airport. By the time I got there, my flight was leaving in less than 30 minutes and they wouldn’t let me board. I was hung over and suddenly without a way home. I was able to purchase a ticket on a flight back to Madrid for later in the day, but I still would miss my connecting flight to Chicago. I took it and when I got to the Madrid airport, spent another hour trying to get on another flight home.
Originally I was told there wasn’t a flight available for another week. As much as I would have loved to stay in Spain, I was willing to bet I’d be fired if I didn’t return to work soon. And seriously? What is this, 1955? Are you really telling me there are no flights to America for a whole week?! Pretty sure there are options. Fly me to Berlin, London, Paris, Rome…pretty sure they all have flights to somewhere in America! Pretty sure there’s SOME way to get me home in less than a week! As it turned out, there was room on the very same flight I was supposed to be on, the next day. $800 later, I finally had a way home. But where to stay that night?
Fortunately, if I had to be stranded anywhere in the world, at least I was stranded in Madrid, where my friend lived. But with no way to get a hold of her, I had to just show up on her doorstep. I buzzed her apartment and had one of her roommates let me up. When she opened the door to let me in, she greeted me with a, “What are you doing here?!” I couldn’t help it and finally burst in to tears. “It’s ok, nobody died!” she told me. Leave it to your friends to put it in to perspective for you.
After a walk in the Parque del Retiro (wearing my FC Barcelona jersey, which garnered many comments, chants and criticisms, to my endless entertainment) and a hot shower later, I was feeling much more positive about the situation. So I had to pay a lot of money and miss another day of work? I got to have another day in Spain, spend time with a wonderful friend and have a funny story to tell. And who doesn’t want to miss more work? But yeah, I could really use that $800 back.