Tragic Train Accident in Galicia

I wish this didn’t have to be the comeback of Vadoaspain after a long hiatus, but this news is so tragic and shocking I just had to post something.

It’s been reported that over 70 people have lost their lives on a Renfe Alvia train traveling from Madrid to Galicia, and more than 130 are injured.

image

I’m not in Spain right now, but I can still breathe and feel the Spanish air and warmth. It’s like a second (or third?) home to me and I miss it dearly. So, naturally, when I heard the news, a wave of sorrow came over me. Not only is all of the above true, but I also have family and friends in Spain (one of them from Galicia) who could’ve well been on that train. Life is weird. And let’s not forget that me and my boyfriend were hopping on a Renfe train (coincidentally an Alvia or Avant) on a weekly basis, so it really gave me chills.

I am so, so saddened by the news. I’ve been able to see firsthand how families call their relatives when the train is approaching its destination and how they wait anxiously at the lobby. The thought that some of them won’t be able to see their daughters, sons, wives, girlfriends, etc. alive for a last time just breaks my heart in a million pieces.

So sad. Hope the survivors fully recover and the victims rest in peace.

Lo siento mucho, mucho España. Que descansen en paz.

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Renfe AVE prices drop to 11% in February, 2013

The high speed train (can achieve speeds of up...

Renfe has launched an operation to promote and encourage the use of the High-Speed Rail AVE, with discounts of up to 70% in certain routes and days of the week. Additionally, there will be a general reduction of 11% on Tourist Fares and the possibility of purchasing vouchers valid for 10 trips with savings of up to 30%. And for holders of “Carnet Joven” (for those not older than 26), the discounts are even greater.

Renfe also introduced the concept “Promo,” very similar to that used by airlines, which basically offers lower prices on tickets purchased well in advance.

The company announced the news this January. They said they expect these discounts will allow a greater number of people to use the High Speed ​​services. The new rates will be effective beginning February 8, 2013.

The changes, I believe, are just for AVE, not AVANT. But no worries; AVANT trains are way more affordable.

I ♥ it! 🙂 

This is great news for citizens and tourists alike. The tourist fare for a one-way ticket from Madrid to Seville is normally around 84€ (there’s always a 20% discount on the return ticket, and now up to 40%). For frequent travelers with an average income, that’s a crazy price to pay.  Someone said that about 60% of citizens of Spain have never taken the AVE because of their inflated rates. With the economy being a mess in Spain in recent years, they just couldn’t afford the luxury. But hopefully now this will change the game. It’s a win-win situation.

(What Renfe has to do now is introduce a way for international credit cards to work on their website. I have faith they can do it! If anyone has ever tried using a credit or debit card from a non-Spanish bank to purchase tickets online, you know what I mean.)

Why I keep going back to Madrid

It’s been forever since last time I wrote anything on here. The good news is it looks like I still have readers! So here I go again.

I am back in Spain after just seven months and it feels as though I never left. I’ve been here for two weeks now. I flew here on New Year’s Day and settled in Madrid, once again, though this time I think I’ll be here for just less than three months.

Madrid on Christmas

The thing about Madrid is you live here once, you come back twice…or TRICE! (As Conan would say.) You just keep coming back. As much as I dislike the way certain things work in Spain, it is undeniably a great place to be. It’s almost stress-free for those used to the hectic life in the US. So I couldn’t say no to my boyfriend when he said that “we should go back.”

This time, I’m in a different part of Madrid, near the neighborhood of La Latina and Prícipe Pío. It’s a much quieter area compared to Ronda de Atocha, steps away from the train station Aotocha Renfe, and where I used to live before. It was nice stepping out of the door and being right there, where the “action” was. But the area where I’m staying now is not too bad either. It has its nice little encantos, like fruit shops, bakeries, the typical local bars, a big gym, and the mall Prícipe Pío is within walking distance!

Principe Pio

Principe Pio

Transportation around here is great also. But then again, it is one of the greatest things about Spain no matter the city. It is easy to get to and from places. My nearest metro lines are 6 and 10 and they connect to pretty much all the lines. There are a number of bus lines and connections of all sorts, as well, and taxis everywhere for speedy preferences.

It’s nice to be back. I like the fact that I came back just in time for rebajas (sales) which last until the end of February in most stores of Madrid. (Check out favorite places to shop in Spain) It’s a great time to shop! Also, next week, January 19, 2013, is the Madrid Gastrofestival—a culinary festival that is celebrated every year. There will be art, food, and wine… Can’t miss it!

One thing is for sure though; I prefer Madrid in the summer. Actually, I prefer any city in the summer! I was pleased with the weather when I walked out of the airport the first day as it was much warmer than it had been in Philadelphia. But that changed quickly because the following days it got very cold. Last summer was too hot. Now it’s too cold. The good thing is that it’s still Madrid, and it’s worth it.

How to find an apartment in any city in Spain

Main room in my Ciudad Real apartment. 2011

First of all, congratulations on even thinking that you’d like to give living abroad a try! I think everyone should consider expanding their wings every once in a while. This world is so vast that staying in just one tiny place on the map would be a waste. There’s just so much to see out there…

Moving abroad may sound overwhelming and even more challenging when you don’t speak the language of the prospective country. But if I did it, so can anyone. Granted, I already had some advantages going for me: I speak Spanish and I had been to Spain.

Speaking the language helps—or more like, it’s necessary—because contracts and policies are written in Spanish. Also, the people renting the pisos tend to be retired older Spaniards, for the most part, who never learned English. You might get lucky, but that’d be very rare if the landlord spoke English. And having visited the country before moving helps because you can familiarize with the culture, the people and the way they do business.

The very first thing you need to do is figure out how long you’ll be staying in Spain. (There is a visa process if you’re staying longer than three months.) Both times I’ve lived in Spain I had a student visa, which I think is the easiest visa to get. The consulates of Spain each have their own individual website in accordance with the US state where they are, but you can look up Spain embassies and consulates here and types of visas here.

You can of course still live in Spain for a period of three months or less without a visa. The problem with this renting option is that people hardly rent under short-term contracts, especially to foreigners, and without an identification number (passport won’t work everywhere) a person can’t legally work or open a bank account in order to meet financial criteria. You’d have to find a landlord who agrees to rent without you having a bank account or documents, other than your passport, that prove your identity and that you’ll be able to pay rent.

Luckily, a lot of students and young professionals sublet. That is probably your best bet. I, for instance, found a room in the heart of Madrid for a month and I didn’t sign a single paper. Yes, verbal agreements apparently still work in Spain. Well, the tenants were Americans, but it still worked. So it’s really a matter of luck and connections sometimes. You’d be surprise at the amount of posts on social media from students who are subletting their rooms or apartments. Just do a thorough search.

Renting in Spain longer than three months?

For this you’ll need a visa first — if you want to follow the “legal” route :-)— and a bank account, and sometimes even an employment contract. In my case, I went to Spain with a job contract as an Auxiliar de Conversación (teaching assistant), but at the same time my job fell under the category of studies because this is a grant from the Department of Education of Spain. With this job contract, I was able to get an identification card (NIE), and with my NIE I was able to get a bank account. So, once I had all my paperwork in order, I was able to rent a long-term apartment.

Now, this is how I found a vivienda (home) in Spain

There are always pisos (apartments) and houses en alquiler (for rent) in Spain. Months before I moved to Ciudad Real, Spain, I spent a good amount of time searching for the best deals. There are a bunch of websites where you can get started with your search and here are the ones I recommend:

En Alquiler – this is probably the broadest site and it’s where I found my long-term furnished apartment in Ciudad Real, Castilla La-Mancha. Pisos are for rent by owners and realtors.

Idealista – this site is very popular among students because it’s very straightforward and there are a lot single rooms and homes for rent by other students and by the owners.

Fotocasa – this is another wide-ranging website with lots of options

Segundamano – at first, the name of this site scared me away—“Segunda mano” means secondhand. But I was wrong to judge. It’s a good site with not just homes for rent, but a whole lot of everything!

Ya encontré – also a big site with good leads

And though I didn’t use them, these are some Craigslist-types of sites with possible good leads: Loquo, Mundoanuncio, and the very Spain Craigslist.

A few things to consider when conducting your apartment search by location, price, type of housing, whether you want it furnished or not, and whether you’re looking for properties by the owner or by inmobiliarias (real state). If I may suggest, renting straight from the owner is generally cheaper and there’s less paperwork! Most websites I mentioned above give you the option to narrow down your search by categories.

Don’t ever, ever agree to rent a piso or to pay any money without first seeing it. After my contract was up in Ciudad Real, I was looking for a room in Madrid and I came across some creepy ads. On a teaching assistants Facebook page, students and locals advertised apartments and rooms for rent all the time. I saw one I liked a lot. I mean, this room looked clean and perfect in the picture and it was located in La Latina, a major area of Madrid, and for a very low price. So I contacted the renter and, when I went to see the room in person, it was a complete catastrophe! Actually, this is quite an understatement; it was really the most disgusting thing I had ever seen for a home!

I don’t know what the owner was thinking —was that picture even of the real place? Who knows! But the ad definitely, almost deliberately, was misleading. So watch out for weirdos and rip-offs!

The other room I found on that same page looked like it had a good-sized bed, but in person it was very small. I took this last room, but let me remind you that things aren’t always what they look like online!

Second Room I Saw, and rented, in Madrid. 2012

One last thing, don’t even bother clicking the “contact person or realtor” link when searching for housing in Spain; unless you don’t pick up that phone, you will most likely not hear back from anyone.

Hope this helps and good luck on your hunt, everyone!

My Top Five Favorite Cities in Spain

Picking out just five Spanish cities from the big list was not easy. In order to come up with my top favorite five, I had to ask myself: what if I only had two weeks to visit five Spanish cities, which ones would I pick? Which ones are a must see? Considering that I have already visited these cities, doesn’t exactly make it any easier either. But here it goes.

Sevilla: Naturally, I have a lot to say about this city as it is my favorite of them all. I fell in love with Sevilla!Seville is very diverse—thousands of tourists visit, study, work, and move to the city every year. Almost all the study abroad programs I’ve checked out offer Seville as a hot spot.

Plaza de España Sevilla

It’s no surprise so many people are interested in this Andalusian city, as its people are as warm as its weather. Temperatures reach the 100+ degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, but the weather remains perfect throughout the rest of the year. (It was one of my favorite things about Seville.) You can always take an hour drive ride or a Renfe train to the beach area, in Huelva.

Because it’s warm, there are always people out on the streets. The neighborhoods of La Macarena and Maria La Blanca are some of my favorites. The vibe feels incredible. There is lots of bars and restaurants to choose from.

If feeling like exploring beyond your horizons, there are bullfights throughout the year and flamenco shows at many different spots. Tip: sometimes the free ones are the better ones. But if interested in a good flamenco show, try to go to Casa de La Memoria.

The prices for meals and drinks in Sevilla were some of the cheapest I had seen in Spain.

I’m sure there are things to do with kids; I never explored it. The same shops they have in Madrid are also in Sevilla, and some other independent ones. There’s also a lot of gift shops with a lot of beautiful interesting little things. I talk about Seville here, here, and Seville food here.

Madrid: One thing about Madrid is that this city is always alive. This was a favorite characteristic as it was so hard to find open businesses during siesta time—from 2pm through 5:30pm. While the rest of Spain takes the siesta, Madrid stays open for business. Shopping stores in the heart of the city, like Puerta del Sol, rarely close.

Madrid is the capital of Spain, so naturally they have almost anything you need. People from everywhere visit Madrid, crowding the streets and train stations so much that it requires continuous surveillance. The presence of cops and security guards at the parks and shopping stores was totally normal.

Madrid has one of the best gastronomy there is. There’s a wide range selection of restaurants and bars and they’re on every corner. Not only do they have fine Spanish restaurants, but also cuisines from different countries and regions, such as Basque, Galician, Asian, Dominican, Peruvian, Cuban, etc.

I enjoyed the parks. The most popular, Parque del Retiro. Right in the center of Madrid. The park is huge! You can go for a walk, exercise, meet up with friends, or simply relax under a tree. It’s an incredibly beautiful park. (There’s another park I visited that was absolutely amazing, but which name escapes me right now. I’ll post it as soon as it comes back!)

Salamanca: Salamanca is a small city, but it is beautiful. It is a must-see. Salamanca is part of Castile and Leon. One of the places that blew me away was its Plaza Mayor (Main Square). The architecture and model are beautiful.

View from the Bell Tower

The city is a university city; it hosts hundreds of students each year. So the atmosphere is relatively young. It is recognized as a Spanish region where many go to learn Spanish as it is said that Castilian is the better Spanish. (Not sure about this statement.)

Salamanca has a lot of historical buildings and monuments, such as University of Salamanca, the Cathedral and the Old Roman Bridge, which you can visit all in one day. If you have an appreciation for art and Baroque architecture, this is the place to go. You feel like you’re walking through a medieval town.  The nightlife is not bad for a small city and the tapas and wine are really good. There’s more about Salamanca here.

Granda: I wasn’t sure whether to choose Bilbao or Granada for my fourth best, but I chose Granada because I just love everything about the region of Andalusia. Plus, Granada is so rich in culture and history, you have got to see it. It is easily accessible from any point in Spain via train or bus.

"La Alhambra" (The Red) of Granada, ...

Starting right off with the greatest monument in Granada:  the Alhambra. I can’t believe it was built by humans. It’s an incredible fortress, a humongous castle built centuries ago. The Alhambra was home to many Arabs rulers and it’s now a major tourist attraction of the city. Inside the Alhambra, you’ll find many palaces and gardens with ponds.  In addition to the Alhambra, there are also museums, churches and parks you can visit in Granada.

The Arab influence is obvious everywhere you look. A lot of Moroccans migrated to Granada and, honestly, it seemed to me that big part of the city is run by them. There are tons of Moroccan shops, tea houses and shops and restaurants. I tried the tea and the Moroccan food and everything was delicious.

Like everywhere in Spain, there are lots of restaurants and bars and a bunch of little streets packed with tourists and locals out for a good time.

Granada’s climate is mild; very hot in the summer, warm in the spring, but it cools off as the night falls. The winter is cold—the city is inside mountains. There’s more about Granada here.

Barcelona: I love energetic cities and diversity, so I love Barcelona. It’s not cliché—there’s a reason almost everyone wants to go to Barcelona. It really is an amazing city.

Barcelona is the capital of the region of Catalonia, which borders with France. Catalonia has its own language, but everybody understands and, as far as I know, can speak Castellano (Spanish). You’ll have to look deep into their history in order to understand this.

One of the most popular spots is Las Ramblas, which is just a long pedestrian mall that connects Plaça Catalunya and the seaport (not sure why it is so popular being what it is). At Las Ramblas, there are always a lot of pickpockets watching you, waiting for the best time to make their moves. I always tell everyone to be especially careful around there.

The nightlife in Barcelona is ahhmazing! Really fun bars and nightclubs. Incredible vibe. There’s a very popular market by Las Ramblas, Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, which carries anincredible selection of meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. For the seafood lovers, there are seafood restaurants with a big seafood selection menu around the market.

Other points of attraction are Camp Nou (Barcelona’s soccer team stadium), Park Güell (Antonio Gaudi’s park and architecture), the Sagrada Familia cathedral (which architecture is also by Gaudi). You can go eat tapas at any Pintxo bars (small-sized plates), visit the neighborhood of La Barceloneta, the Gothic Quarter, museums, and so much more.

Barcelona can be expensive for accommodations, but for young people there are a number of youth hostels and pensions. And for the not-so-young, there are also hostels and hotels that can be affordable if booked with time in advance. It is a very modern, touristy and very expensive city, that’s for sure, but it’s worth visiting. I talk about Barcelona here.

Belgian beer and Saint Patrick’s Day in Madrid

I think the amount of holidays in Spain is overwhelming…in a great way. There are more Saint Days on the Spanish calendar than there are working days. I’m normally off on Mondays and some Fridays, so when a holiday falls on the days I’m already off, I’m just like oh mannnn! 🙂

I have done nothing (nothing! (sleeping is overrated, apparently) but travel, eat, drink, and travel since Thursday. Today I got back to school (normally I start my week on Tuesday) and everybody who didn’t know I had switched days kept asking if I was feeling better. Confused, I respond “yeah…” And then I say, “I was in Valencia.” Then I see the expression of sorriness on their faces slightly changing to bitterness and then they hate me for being able to have so many days off and travel to places that not even their native selves have ever been to. Ok, they don’t hate me. They think I’m very lucky…as do I.

Anyway, lots of activities this past weekend. I started last Thursday by having a “pre-celebration” of Día de la enseñanza (Teaching Day) with colleagues. We hit a few bars after school. The thing is that every Friday they get together and go out for what they call a “caña” which means going for a beer, wine, or whatever (I guess it translates to US Happy hour?). Since I almost never work on Fridays, I don’t get to hang out with them after school. They also do their happy hour in Bolaños, not in Ciudad Real. I don’t drive a car here and that’s two towns apart. But last Thursday they decided to go out in Ciudad Real and I was able to hang out. Chris was able to come, as well.


Well, we had a blast. I guess Ciudad Real is a lot more fun when you go out in groups. We started out with some tapas and drinks at a bar called Dallas. Later a table was set for us and we had a few “raciones,” small bites, and more wine. After we ate, we walked to another bar for tea and coffee, and then cocktails—well, Gin-tonic is the closest they get to a good cocktail here, which is still better than their Bloody Mary’s.

We hung out at that bar for a while. We even played some games. The Spanish teachers taught us some fun card games I had never heard of; a bit confusing but fun. Chris then showed them how to play other drinking games, including the overly played out college game “A-hole”—what a great introduction to American games! They couldn’t be more confused, but had fun. The younger three of us who didn’t want to go home then visited another bar around my piso. The bar has pool tables and a darts games (obviously not my choice). But I played and ended up beating the two guys, which is very odd because I’m very bad at these games. All in all, it was a great time.

On Saturday we left for Madrid. There weren’t available hotels in Valencia for the beginning of the weekend, and when we can’t find something in the city we want to go to, Madrid is our safe haven. But it’s always fun no matter what. It was Saint Patrick’s Day and the Irish were everywhere. Typical Irish bars in Madrid were packed, it was fun. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay at our usual Puerta del Sol little spot—this time we were rather far from the center, off the Metro Canillejas, and let’s just say that I will remember NOT to do it again. I like the energy of the city, as crazy as it gets. Besides, the metro closes at 2am and we don’t like curfews.

On Sunday we continued roaming the city and my brother suggested Cuatro Caminos. So, there we went for the first time. It is Dominican town up there; we stopped at a restaurant for some Sancocho and Tostones. There was music and dancing everywhere. Monday was also a holiday, so a lot of people were out on Sunday night. But before we wandered around in Cuatro Caminos, we had stopped at a bar called La Casa de La Cerveza in Chamberí. I am NOT a beer person, but a year or so ago my boyfriend introduced me to Belgian beer. I’ve been hooked since.

Earlier Sunday we went back to the Irish bar Dubliners in Madrid—we spotted chicken wings on the menu and went back for it. They were yummy. Somehow the conversation with the server ended in Belgian beer. Dubliners didn’t have that kind of beer, but our server suggested La casa de la cerveza.

He didn’t even know the actual name of the bar, but he told us the name of the metro (subway) we needed to take or walk to and search from there. So, Chris and I walked aimlessly for approximately 25 minutes. HA! We made it to Metro Bilbao and asked for “an Irish bar” in the area. Long story short, La casa de la cerveza was RIGHT by Metro Bilbao on Calle de Luchana. The beer menu is huge and irresistible even to a non-beer lover like me. I recommend it.

On Monday, we headed for Valencia.

Renewal of Auxiliares Grant for 2012-2013

The renewal process for the Auxiliares de Conversación in Spain 2012-2013 is now open, and I have a dilemma.

No doubt I want to stay! I would LOVE it if I could go to a different (major) city like Valencia, Barcelona or Sevilla. I like Madrid, as well, but I have been to Madrid way too many times and I want to experience something new, preferably by the coasts.

I’ve been enjoying my life here and my job as a language-assistant-turned teacher here in Ciudad Real. Even though I expected my role to be different (I thought I’d be assisting, not fully teaching), it turned out to be a great experience for me and it has helped me look at Education from a different perspective, among many other things.

I’ve met all of those children—whom I can already tell you I will miss when this ends—and the rest of the staff. Everybody has been so incredibly nice…I really don’t want to leave this.

However, Spain’s bureaucracy is making my head spin. Everything is so difficult in their eyes. Nothing gets done in a timely manner. Example #120: the other day I had to pay a bill and so I walked over the office, since it is within walking distance. Before that, I had tried paying it online because, that’s how I handle my EVERYTHING back home in the US. I do everything electronically and have never had a problem with that. Well, my card was not accepted online, they don’t take payments over the phone, and that’s why I decided to personally go to the office.

Once there, the agent tells me that her system doesn’t accept Mastercard. I then handed her my Visa card from my US bank. She said international cards don’t work either. My last resource was to go to Correos (post office) and make the payment in cash there. Correos is right on the way home, so I thought it was no big deal.

It was 2 o’clock now, Siesta time, we all know what happens: town shuts down. So I went home, had lunch and got a few things done while Spain slept. Around 5:30pm I headed back out again. I walked to Correos and there must have been over 50 customers at the payments section…all to be assisted by just one employee. You can imagine how long I waited just to make a payment.

These are the little things that frustrate me about this country. I don’t care if I have no dishwasher here, or a dryer, or that the refrigerator and  the microwave suck. That’s not a big deal, I can work it. I grew up washing dishes manually anyway (for instance). But the way administrations work? I just don’t know how they do it, honestly. Good for them, I guess, if they’re happy that way, but I just can’t.

I also have more personal reasons for potentially not staying, such as missing my family, especially my nieces and nephews, my mom’s food and a lot of the Latino / American customs that are non-existent over here. If given the opportunity, I could work on the personal part; visit my family in the summer, come back here and stay. But, the bureaucracy will still stay the same and that’s what’s driving me a little bit over the edge.

Sometimes I think that maybe being in smaller city — like I am now — doesn’t help much. The other Auxiliares in Madrid don’t seem to have as many complaints (keyword: as many. They still complain) because things are a little bit easier there since it is such a big diverse city and they’re used to seeing things smaller towns don’t. So, I don’t know! I would love to try Valencia or Sevilla and compare my experience here now and then. But, again, what if I face the same issues again? It is quite a dilemma I have here, I tell ya…

Madrid and Ciudad Real

Can’t believe I’m almost three weeks in already! (Only one week in the program though.) So far I haven’t taken too many pictures because I had to spend the first two weeks searching for apartments and settling in. But now things are returning to normal, and I shall start — or resume — traveling. Can’t wait to try the restaurants!

Anyway, here are just a few pictures I have taken on my way to places.

Day 3 in Madrid

This is from the 23rd, but this is when I can finally post it.

Madrid

September 23, 2011

Well, some sort of frustration was to be expected.

For the past three days, I have been trying to get everything ready and settled. I’ve been looking for apartments, trying to open a bank account, getting a cell phone… pretty basic stuff—one would think.

Apartments: searched, visited, but still no luck. Sometimes when I call for info on advertisements I’ve seen online, they tell me that the conditions are different from those previously listed. For instance, today, when I responded to an ad the lady said that the place was available in November, not October as posted on the page. This slows down the process. (Plus I really liked that place!) Ugh.

When trying to open a bank account, I have encountered more problems than I ever have trying to open, well, a bank account back in the States. When I applied for this program, it said on the assistant manual that we should come with “an open mind”—and that’s what I’m reminded off every time things get hectic. “Open mind” has been my mantra.

My brother’s friend said she thinks I am stressing out. Maybe, a little. I used to do one thing after another back home, nonstop, and the sudden patient, easygoing way of living of Spaniards is driving me crazy. (I already knew this was going to happen—I’ve been here before. But since, I had become very independent, so this is different. Nevertheless, I’m handling it well.

So far I haven’t met people, so I miss my friends and family! And my boyfriend! A lot! I’m sure though that once I get a place that I can call home everything will feel so much better. I am looking forward to meeting my boyfriend here and traveling all over Europe and getting to know the culture some more. I can’t wait!

Thankfully, there’s always Spanish wine.

Flying to Spain

trolley, Luggage, Rolltasche

Image via Wikipedia

I got to Spain on the 21st, but this is when I am finally finding time to post what I have written:

Madrid 20, 2011

Today I flew into Madrid from JFK airport. My flight was scheduled for 10:20PM US Eastern Time and I made it to the airport in just about enough time to sit at a café with my boyfriend Chris and my friend Jima. We had a good time.

Unfortunately, when I got there, I realized that my luggage might had been over the weight limit. Luckily, a cautious me brought a huge trash bag in case I needed to send something back home — ha ha! You just never know with airports these days.

At check-in, I got in line hoping for the best. When my turn came, a very rude agent assisted me. My luggage was over the limit for a few ounces other times before and the employees were very kind about it, but not this guy. His main concern was the payment (something he didn’t even know how to explain in the first place), not my satisfaction as a customer. I was willing to take some items out of the luggage and send them home — since I had that plastic bag — but my boyfriend Chris insisted we just pay for it.

Long story short, my stubbornness would not allow me to pay the $120 fee they were asking for in order to cover two overweight bags when I knew I could bring down the weight by just eliminating a few things I didn’t particularly need. So I told the guy I’d go weigh my maletas myself and see what I could take out.

That was the best decision we had made in those 20 something minutes we wasted trying to reason with the guy. The airline policy (AirEuropa, by the way) already explains the limitations, but the guy was very apathetic and rude, making the stressful experience even more stressful. There was no need for that.

Anyway, before we reached the door to go to where the car was parked, we (more like, my boyfriend) decided to get back in line and just pay the difference. This time we got a different agent (thank god) and she was more reasonable — and nice. My carry-on weighed 13 kilos and the limit was 10kg. But, unlike Mr. Rude Guy, the new agent accepted my suggestion to take some books out to bring it down to 10 kilos. It brought it down to 10.08 actually, but she didn’t seem to be too bothered by that and I ended up paying for just one luggage ($60). I would’ve much preferred not paying for any, but $60 is way better than $120!

Despite that stressing situation, we managed to still have time for a drink and appetizers. It was nice getting to relax a little with friends before boarding the plane. Oh, and I almost forgot; waiting to go through security was insane! It is not ever a smooth process, but this was intense. It was the most disorganized airport-related duty I have ever experienced (and in turn it made me reconsider flying with AirEuropa gain). I thought I was going to miss my flight, but the airline pushed the time back a little and I think most passengers were able to get on board. That was a relief.