Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First trip, first lesson

The first place that I traveled to was Valencia and this is where I learned my first lesson. We took a train down there on a Thursday evening for only 38€ to go there. However, to come back it was 50€ because it was on a Sunday and we needed to go home in order to go to school the next day. A lot of the tickets you buy for train and bus are very sensitive to day of the week because, obviously, more people travel on the weekend. This was not the first lesson I learned though, we took a bus back for even cheaper, 30€, but we knew about this ahead of time. Even though it was a four hour ride instead of an hour thirty it was worth saving the 20€. However, information like this can be found easily on the computer. What I learned happed shortly after we arrived and got to the hostel.

Two of my German friends, one friend from Switzerland, and I arrived at about 10 at night with no plans for the hostel, but this isn´t a big problem most of the time. We went to one and I was full and they sent us somewhere else which was full too. We finally found a hostel with some vacancy and we start to check in. The guy at the front desk ask for our passports and all of my friends pull theirs out, and I knew I didn´t have mine and my heart just dropped. I thought since we weren’t flying that I didn’t need my passport but that wasn´t the case. I start talking with the guy at the desk and pleading to let me sleep there for the night. I gave him my student ID, my buss pass, my ESN card, but he wouldn´t take any of it. He was so stubborn and so serious that if I didn´t have a passport I couldn´t have a room at any hostel. He even suggested I take the train to Madrid.

At this point I thought that I was going to be sleeping on the beach. That sounded like a fine plan to me but that’s even more expensive then the train to Madrid due to the 600€ fine. I mean I should have known to take it because last time I was in hostels in Central America they needed it there too. Also I heard it is illegal in Europe to be traveling around without proper identification. Thankfully, the lady receptionist was trying to be somewhat understanding. I was trying to do anything I could to stay there. I offered to let them hold on to my credit card until I checked out or pay an extra deposit but it wasn´t working. She told me that maybe if I had a photocopy of my passport that might work. I knew I photocopied a few before I left the states for safety but I knew those were in my room in Madrid. I told her I didn´t have that either but I started looking in my bag just in case because the other option was to take the train home at this point.

I totally forgot that when I was in Madrid the very first week I was staying at a cheap hotel before I got my apartment. I also needed a photocopy of my passport to get my apartment but I gave that to my landlord.  However, when I got my photocopy the very nice receptionist asked me how many copies I wanted.  I said just one because I only need to give it my landlord, but she insisted on making me three. Thank God, because in Valencia to my surprise I pulled out a photocopy I didn’t even know I had.  I had a huge mix of emotions of surprised, happy, and embarrassed because of making my friends wait who totally know you always need a proper form of identification. I gave it to the man the desk and he switched from talking Spanish the whole time to English to say something I will never forget.

In a very angry tone, after he gave me my room key, he said “I wipe my ass with this” while he was holding up my photocopied passport. I replied “I don´t care what you do with it as long as I have a place to stay this weekend”. I was very glad that I was able to stay and didn´t waste a trip. To this day I still carry that photocopy of my passport in my back pack, as well as my actual passport too. Long story short: even if you aren’t flying always have you passport. It is now the first thing I pack. It may seem like a bit of a pain or burden to carry around but it´s very useful. You can also apply for passport cards, you still need you book one but they are a lot easier to carry around.

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