One of the benefits of being spontaneous is that I am fairly adaptable to my circumstances, and always down for an adventure. One of the drawbacks, however, is that I am terrible at planning. The worst. Most of the time this works out okay. Partially because things just work out, but mostly because Yaron is a planner. I have improved over time, but this short story is an example of the importance of planning, and how NOT to do it.
While I was studying in Italy, I decided to go to Spain for spring break to meet up with some friends that were there. Flying into Barcelona was cheap, so I decided that was a good choice. It was in Spain so it made sense. So I flew into Barcelona. But I wasn’t going to Barcelona; I was going to San Sebastian. It wasn’t until I landed in Barcelona, that I realized that my actual destination of San Sebastian was 400 miles away from Barcelona. I didn’t bother to look at this before I flew into Barcelona. I just figured, “I’ll be in Spain so I’m sure it’s all close together.” (Sounded better in my head…)
Seems like this would a simple fix, right? Today, I would get on my phone and compare different ways to solve this problem, book a ticket bus or train ticket, and grab an uber to the station. However, this was before the age of smart phones. Yes I am apparently very old. So I wandered around Barcelona with my purple suitcase and tried to figure out how to get to San Sebastian.
The people of the Basque region did not understand (or care to understand) my Mexican Spanish/Italian/Spanglish. They speak Spain Spanish… which is very different from the Spanish we learn in school, and is awfully confusing for someone who knows some Mexican Spanish and some Italian and mainly English. And they were really not into my language. Luckily, Barcelona is rather touristy, so I did find a few people that spoke English.
So anyway, here I was, milling around Barcelona with a suitcase, trying to somehow hitch a ride 400 miles up the coast.
I found a bus station with coach buses that went all around the country, and purchased a ticket to San Sebastian. The ticket was WAY more than I wanted to spend. IF I had just planned ahead, I could have purchased a plane ticket directly to San Sebastian from Italy for the same amount of money that I was now forced to spend anyway.
I got on the bus, shoved my passport, debit card, and all my cash in my bra, and set off on a 10 hour bus ride through the middle of the night with a bunch of strangers. At one point, we stopped at what I am pretty sure was a truck stop/hooker pick up location. That was cool. Not scary at all. Just kidding I was terrified.
I was beyond exhausted when we arrived at our final destination in San Sebastian. So exhausted, that I got off the bus and walked away without my suitcase. I realized this when the bus was driving away. So I chased it. No I am not making any of this up. I chased the bus. And somehow the driver saw me in the side mirror, flailing my arms like a maniac and chasing the bus, and stopped. I thanked him in terrible Spanish, got my suitcase, and headed on my way.
I also realized at this point that I no longer had access to my piece of shit European cell phone to call and meet up with my friends already in Spain. The crappy little European phones back then had pass codes that only popped up when you turned them on and off. I had locked myself out because the phone had died during my ridiculous journey, and I did not remember my password because I had never let it die before.
SO, I had no phone, no numbers, no address for the place I was going, (because I just figured I’d call when I got to San Sebastian) and was wondering around town with a big purple suitcase. And then it started raining. Downpour raining. See how fun traveling is?! Just kidding; you can avoid all of this with a little planning.
I wandered around and finally came across an internet cafe. It was an opportunity to get out of the rain, and I contacted Yaron and my friends I was in Spain to visit via Facebook. They came to find me and I had literally never been so relieved!
And so you see how a bit of preparation and planning can completely alter the course of your trip. (For the better!) Or a lack thereof can make your experience dreadful. Don’t be like me. (In this area.) Save yourself the heartache! And don’t always choose the cheapest option… it doesn’t end up being that cheap.