I thought a lot about how I wanted to recount my summer trip through Spain and Portugal. And as I thought, I watched the days pass with no posts. I felt lost in the possibilities of all the things to say and the realization that none of them seemed significant. In the meantime, I have been trying to wear down that dauntingly high number on my Google Reader. Here’s what I found; as I read about Andi’s Beautiful Adventures in Brazil and Heather and Brooke’s amazing roadtrip over on There’s No Place Like Oz, I thought, how simple, day by day. It’s just like the saying goes. So, here it goes.
First of all, Ferie is the Italian word for work vacation, which roughly translates into; everything is closed for the month and no one is working so you better be getting outta town (and if you’re a tourist leave a message because we aren’t here). The concept of a vacation here is something that American workers cannot even fathom. Every year, workers in all trades (except maybe the utmost tourist-driven city center businesses) take a mandatory 3-week vacation. Did I mention on top of that they have another 10 (or more) paid days off? Oh and did I mention that they are a well-off country, boasting the 7th highest GDP in the world? You get the point.
So, as I was granted a rather lengthy Ferie (grumble…) Lorenzo was given the standard 3-weeks, as was his BFF and previously mentioned girlfriend who was on study break. We had planned to hit Alicante as a stop-off on the way to Palma de Mallorca and then jump over to Madrid before parting ways when Lore and I would be heading to Portugal!!
Day 1 was off to a late start as our flight was set to leave Pisa just after 9pm. No worries, because in true Italian fashion we were on the train in Florence by 5pm. That’s a one hour train ride and aren’t Italians supposed to always be late? Anyway, long story short the flight left just after 11pm but that didn’t stop all the Italians from waiting in that no seat reservation RyanAir line since 8:30pm. I read a book on the sidelines and still ended up in a seat next to Lore. Funny.
Driving from the Alicante’s airport to the city center was some kinda of utopia. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was actually traveling again. There was this crazy cabbie speaking some intensely fast language I didn’t understand as we whizzed down the interstate toward a brightly lit beach and illuminated castle. We somehow stumbled to what we believed to be our hostel in the dark, quiet of the back streets of Alicante and stood in front of the closed door wondering where to go as the hostel next door glowed with life. Finally, a stumbling man successfully communicated to us that we must go up the stairs and from there we were met by a group of Italians. Oh right, we aren’t so far from home after all.
It was well after midnight when we arrived, in the process waking up the awesome hostel owner, Miguel, who ran our little paradise Pensione Versailles. In true traveler fashion, we dropped our bags and hit the streets; and ended up at KFC… WTF? I really enjoy traveling halfway around the world to experience America’s culinary failures, but seeing as there is no KFC in Italy, it was a designated stop on our list and unfortunately not a one time occurrence.
After some wondering and a lucky chance encounter with some rubber tire furniture we retired for a full-day of Alicante in the morning.