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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Journey Worth Making

Hello people!

We're in fucking Córdoba!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This place is unreal!! It's quite a lot different from Madrid and San Sebastian, and it's HOT. We're outside at the moment (I'll explain later) and I swear it's about 25 degrees.

It's strange to think that this morning we were right up in the north of Spain, and now we are in the deep south, in Andalucia. Here's a map showing the journey we took today - it's over 400 miles long:

So a lot of today has been spent travelling, but we wanted to see as many different parts of Spain as we could, and we are both very glad that we decided to make this journey. It was totally worth it, and now we're looking forward to a whole day in this place tomorrow. The blog post is gonna be amazing and we'll have some great pictures; I can't wait.

But now I'll talk about what's happened today...


The journey we made was split into two parts. Firstly, travelling from San Sebastian to Madrid (same route as when we first came to San Sebastian), and then from Madrid (a different station though!) to Córdoba. Our train leaving San Sebastian was at 8.42am, arriving in Madrid (Chamartin station) at 2am. Then we had to get the 4pm train from Atocha station in Madrid to Córdoba.

To ensure that we had plenty of time to get our train, we decided to set our alarms for 6.30am. Thankfully, one of the three alarms that we set actually went off (it's always good when things actually do what they're designed to do...), so we managed to get up and get ready. I got to sleep at about 4am the previous night/morning so once again I had to cope with very little sleep, and being unable to sleep on the train.

I had a shower first, but Sam said that he didn't have time to have one because we would miss the train. I didn't really see how this was possible seeing as it was 7am and it took about 15-20 minutes to walk to the train station from the hostel, but I just went along with it.

It was only when we were walking to the station that we realised that Sam had got his times mixed up and thought that the train was leaving at twenty to 8 rather than twenty to 9.

At what age do you learn to tell the time Sam?!?! 5 or something?

Anyway, this wasn't too much of an issue because it gave us time to get a bit of breakfast in a local café and for Sam to get his morning fix of coffee.

The café was lovely... the man who ran it was very friendly, and he made my orange juice by hand-squeezing oranges. Orange juice in Spain is always freshly squeezed from oranges in the place where it is served, and it is SO much nicer than the shit we get in England. Sam also said his coffee was brilliant, which is a massive compliment coming from Sam, so no wonder he was so happy in there.

After we'd had our drinks and croissants, we went to the station, got our tickets checked, and then sat on the platform. We still had to wait 40 minutes or something until our train came, but it was a nice morning and we didn't mind. When it did come, we were very happy to find that our seats were on the opposite side of the train compared to when we got the train up to San Sebastian, so we would get to see some new scenery from the window.

This is San Sebastian station:

We took some photos of what we saw out of the train window, here they are:

A station on our line (Zumarraga):

The final area of mountains as we leave northern Spain, and some nearby settlements:

So this part of our journey took about 5 hours and 20 minutes. Sam managed to sleep for a lot of the time (LAZY), and we both also sorted through our photos, putting them in new folders and selecting the best ones from our collection and putting them in a separate folder. And, of course, we enjoyed looking at the Spanish countryside.

It seems that there is always something that makes us laugh a lot when we get the train, and this time it was two French people who were sitting in front of us on the train. One of them had the croakiest voice I think I've ever heard, which made her random spazzy outbursts even more disturbing. She also started smacking the table and windows at one point, which, I should add, is completely normal behaviour on a train.

When we arrived at Chamartin station in Madrid, having already made this journey before, we headed straight for the metro station and got on a train to Atocha, where our next train was leaving. We got to Atocha in plenty of time; I think we got there even beofre 3 o'clock, giving us plenty of time to waste in the station.

The price of stuff in the station was fucking ridiculous. They wanted 2 euros for a fucking apple!!! We still had cookies left in our bag so we thought we'd just survive on these until we got to Córdoba. I swear that's all we eat nowadays.

So we waited until our platform was announced, and then we headed down to get on our train.

We realised on our platform that we had seats 11A and 12A, which meant that we wouldn't be sitting next to each other on the train. However, we realised when we got on that we were at a table, so we were opposite each other. Luckily, they were also window seats, so that gave us plenty of opportunity to admire the landscape on the way to Córdoba.

So just as we have this unique and fantastic opportunity to see what the landscape south of Madrid has to offer... Sam falls asleep.

I wish I could sleep that spontaneously.

I woke Sam up at one point so I could use his iPhone to take some photos from the window. Here they are:

Notice the green and yellow of the fields, this was what they all looked like. The soil was also a very dark orange, so the fields were very bright and colourful.

There were so many of these trees!

We got into Córdoba at 17.42pm. As soon as we got there, we decided that we were going to book our tickets for Sevilla on the 31st, so we headed to the ticket offices.

This part of the day was absolutely perfect. I spoke with the guy at the ticket offices and this is how the conversation went:

Me: Hola, necesitamos reservar unos billetes para ir a Sevilla el 31 de mayo, y tenemos unos billetes de InterRail. (Hello, we need to reserve tickets to go to Sevilla on the 31st of May, and we have InterRail tickets).

Ticket person: Claro. (looks through our InterRail tickets and types the numbers into the computer).
¿Tenéis pasaportes? (We give him our passports) Perfecto. ¿A qué hora queréis viajar? (At what time do you want to travel?)

Me: Mmmmm... por la mañana. (In the morning),

Ticket person: ¿Temprano o tarde? (Early or late).

Me: A las ocho o nueve. (At 8 or 9 o'clock)

Ticket person: Hay un tren a las ocho cincuenta y tres y uno a las nueve y media. (There is a train at 8.53 or one at 9.30).

Me: Ocho cincuenta y tres, por favor. (8.53, please).

Ticket person: Vale. (Prints tickets and hands them to us). Perfecto.

Me: Gracias, adiós.

Ticket person: Adiós.

This is an example of a PERFECT conversation.

He understood everything I said; I understood everything he said. We got what we wanted quickly and easily.

I can't tell you how satisfying this is.

It really makes you feel good at a language when you get into a situation like this and you get through it as if you were a native speaker.

After this, we needed to find somewhere with wifi so we could check the location of our hostel. We took one step out of the train station and were blasted with heat - the air is so warm here. We couldn't find any information after quiickly looking around the vicinity of the station, but then we found a tourist information area within the station where we got a map of the city and all the major locations (how did we miss this before, it was right by the exit to the station that we went out of?!)

We decided to head in the general direction of the city centre as it becomes increasingly likely that there will be wifi hotspots or cafés that have wifi (we learnt this early on). We found a small café, got a coffee and an orange juice, got the directions up on Sam's iPod, and off we went.

We started walking towards the old Jewish area of the city where are hostel is located. The buildings are incredible - a beautiful mix of light colours and old architecture. We went down loads of narrow little roads until we finally came across the road our hostel was on, and went in.

We checked in at the reception and filled in all the paperwork, but then realised that we had to pay with cash and we didn't have enough on us. We asked the recpetionist if it was ok if we went to find a cash machine, and he was completely fine with it - another example of a nice person we have encountered. Firstly, we took all of our stuff to the room.

This hostel is beautiful.

It is a lovely old building which looks traditionally Spanish, but is decorated with lots of flowers and china. We went in our room, and found it had a traditional Spanish window, and looked very comfortable. It's an ensuite too, and has air conditioning!!! Considering how little we payed for it, it is unbelievable value for money.

After we settled in, we went off in pursuit of a cash machine.

It took us a while because the streets are quite confuising as they are so closely packed together, but we got out enough money to pay for the hostel and our dinner, and went back to the hostel.

After we payed the guy, we went back up to our room and deicded that it was time to do some washing.

In the hostel in San Sebastian, the guy who owned the hostel washed, tumble dryed and ironed our white clothes for 8 euros, which was unbelievably good service. We didn't have such a luxury here, though, and we had a big pile of coloured washing to do. So, for the first time, we decided to do some hand-washing using our travel laundry soap and bungee cord washing line.

It took a little while, but eventually we got everything done.

Aftr Sam had a shower, we went downstairs to have dinner - our hostel double as a restuarant, and also serves breakfast (GOD i am looking forward to that in the morning). In the middle of the building is an patio area with an open roof, so we were practically outside. We had only had snacks since the croissants we had this morning, so we wanted to ordered something large but healthy, so we both ordered mixed salads.

Here's me waiting for nourishment.

It was a very good salad.

Before it got really dark, we decided we'd wander around the local streets for half an hour and take some photos. We'll get some much better ones tomorrow when it's light, but nevertheless I'll take you through the ones we took:

A lizard in a lamp!!!

 Buldings and stuff:

And after our walk, we returned to the hostel.

When we went back to our room, Sam quickly explored the hostel, and  found that there was a whole lounge area on the roof! And check out the view:

Looking down on the hostel:

And that pretty much brings you up to date!

We are so glad we decided to come here. This is place is beautiful and so is the atmosphere. Not only that but we could spend ages just taking photos of the hostel! I'll try to upload more tomorrow; it is a loverly building.

This is my view right now:

We love this place. We are so happy to be here right now.

My battery life on my netbook is running very low, so I think I should leave you at this point. But be sure to check the blog tomorrow because believe me, some of the pictures we are going to get will be incredible. This place is so rich in culture and beauty that wherever we turn there will be something of interest. Let's take some photooooooooooooooos.

So we'll see you then! *Panics and rushes upstairs to find charger*

Jack - 30/5/12 - 02:23 in Córdoba, 01:23 in the UK

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