A brief history of my travel pre-sabbatical Travels

 

blonde, beach, travel

 

 

As you may well know from my previous blog post, I never had great aspirations to travel throughout most of my life. That’s not to say that I didn’t love going on holiday and experiencing different cultures (From the safety of a package holiday…).

Spanish has always been a passion of mine, I feel so much more alive and animated when I speak Spanish. I must have gone on holiday to Spain about 14 times in my life and I love talking to local children and impressing my family by ordering our food and drink in Spanish!

It’s hard to remember every holiday to Spain, I must have been to just Benidorm at least 7 times. Package holidays may be nice but they no longer satiate my wanderlust.

So here is a brief history of my pre-sabbatical travel!

Aged 2= Lloret De Mar- Catalunia.

I was a jet setter when I was still in nappies! Although I can’t remember anything about my first trip my parent’s tell me that I used to charm the local ice cream man into giving me broken ice lollies and that I was absolutely terrified of the sea. I developed a pencent for pushing boys in to swimming pools and ate spaghetti on my third birthday.

Aged 3-8 Local holidays in the UK.

I had enough of the jet set lifestyle so we holidayed in the UK. I absolutely loved camping and roughing it and I had plenty of practice when we camped in North Wales (Betws y coed), the Isle of Skye in Scotland and other places in the UK. I was a very social side and loved Pontins and Butlins and was so lucky that I was able to get away so often.

Aged 8=Benidorm- Spain.

My second visit to Spain made me realise how much I love the sun. I loved swimming in the sea or pool and talking to other youngsters. I wore my hair in really cool tiny plaits that made every child around the pool jealous.

Aged 9=Calella- Catelonia

We travelled to Calella by coach and ferry. I remember it took 36 hours to get there but that figure may have been exaggerated over the years. It felt like we were travelling there and back for the same time that we were actually in Calella. It was a real test of my patience but I loved staring out of the coach window, admiring the changing landscape. Calella felt very ‘Spanish’ and I loved trying to communicate with local children and admiring the glamorous Spanish women at the Feria.

Aged 11-=Gran Canaria, Spain

We stayed in a hotel at the top of a hill with amazing views. The beach was rocky but I loved exploring with my sister. In hindsight the crowded bars decorated with neon bars remind me of Khao San road!

Aged 12=The Algarve, Portugal

I was astounded at Portuguese hospitality, so friendly and giving. We tried a lot of Portuguese food too which was delicious. I need to visit again sometime soon.

Aged 13= Benidorm, Spain

I went to Benidorm so many times I can’t remember how many times we went. This time was special because I gained a love of ssnorkelingbafter sailing to Peacock island and spending the day exploring the water with people from all around the world. I saw a massive moray ell which gave me a life long phobia!

Aged 14-=Lanzarote, Spain

Such a beautiful island. All of the hotels and complexes are low rise and most are painted white. I remember choosing what fish to have for dinner from a massive fish tank in the restaurant. I’ve never felt so cruel but the fish was delicious.

Aged 19=Ibiza, Spain

This was my first holiday with my ex boyfriend. I envisioned nights of dancing at the top clubs but couldn’t believe it when it was 50 euro just to get in a club! We went on a little cruise, sunbathed and explored. I had a wonderful time.

Aged 20=Salou, Spain

A short get away which included a day trip to Barcelona. I absolutely loved Las Ramblas and I’m embarrassed to say that we ate Burger King in Barcelona… Now I wouldn’t even dream of eating at Burger king when in Spain, land of delicious tapas!

Aged 21=Tenerife, Spain

We stayed in a private villa with my family and ex boyfriend. It was a lovely relaxed way of life and we ate in a delicious Italian restaurant most nights where they made us feel like family.  I went Tenerife the following year too, single .

Aged 23=Benidorm, Spain

I’m including Benidorm again because it was my first and only girly holiday with my sister. We spent the days partying in the clubs and bars and the days eating and sunbathing by the pool. Benidorm is famous for it’s strip shows and we were shocked when the stripper would just stride on to the dancefloor and start their act, sometimes trapping up so we couldn’t get away!

So there is the round up of my travel pre-sabbatical! Not mentioned was the many camping holidays and holidays to Benidorm interspersed between the others.

I’m so lucky I was given the opportunity to travel so much when I was younger, most friends of mine rarely went on holiday with their families, let alone multiple times a year like I did.

I learned to rough it, sometimes when we camped I would walk up a massive hill for our daily water. The bucket was our toilet and the river was our bath/beer cooler. My friends now can’t believe that I roughed it like that when I was a kid and when I was on my sabbatical because I look so polished and wear vintage clothes. I love not being what people expect me to be.

I learn’t life skills on holiday that I could never learn in school, language skills, communication skills, having the courage to try new food and develop a natural curiosity for the world. Without the life lessons I learn’t when I was younger I doubt I would have handled nursing myself through horrible Dengue fever in Thailand and coping with the crippling weakness afterwards.

The reason I didn’t travel from the ages of 23-25 was because I was single. My friends were not interested in travel and I didn’t realise that it was possible to go on holiday alone, let alone travel the world solo! I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to take a sabbatical, my quarter life crisis was the best thing that could have ever happened to me!

Travel has definitely changed and moulded me throughout the years, for the better!

Do my pre-sabbatical travels surprise you? Did you travel when you were young? Did you always want to travel or was forging a career your top priority like mine?

 

 

 

 

 

How I decided to take a sabbatical and travel long term

 

sabbatical

I devour the words of other travel blogs. I love seeing what made people just like me take a permanent or temporary break from the treadmill of’ real life’ in exchange for a life of adventure and the unknown. There’s one similarity between all of these bloggers.

They have always wanted to travel.

My tale does not start with such romantic notions. Throughout my life I’ve always aimed to be the best at something, be the cleverest girl in class, the best netball player etc. Travel seemed like something other people did, dare I say it lazy people who want to escape from real life. Don’t get me wrong I loved holidays and exploring new places, the thought of doing it long term or moving abroad didn’t cross my mind.

It was not the done thing for girls like me.

 

So I did what society told me to do, worked hard in school, got good grades and chose a vocational degree course (Podiatry) so that I’d never be out of work. I fell in to the trap that many people do.

I waited for happiness.

I told myself that I would be happy when I got my GCSE’s, then I would be happy when I got my A Levels, I would be happy when I got a boyfriend, happy when I moved in with said boyfriend, happy when I got a degree, happy when I got my own flat….etc, etc. Happiness was always around the corner…

But happiness didn’t magically come with a piece of paper, even a piece of paper that I worked very hard for. Don’t get me wrong I have always been ‘happy’. I was just unaware that there was any thing else in life to aim for but the magical milestones.

I can’t quite remember when travel started to intrigue me. I had been on many holidays but never really travelled. The first travel blog that I came across was Neverendingfootsteps. Here was a girl, with a degree who just decided to travel and ended up making a living of it and meeting the love of her life on the way. If a normal girl from England can do it why couldn’t I?

My blog lust somehow spiraled and I was absorbing every travel blog that I could get my hands on. I had opened up a brand new world and I couldn’t get enough. I wasn’t from a middle class family and long term travel seemed like something for other people. I knew no-one who had travelled long term except for people doing the working holiday visa in Australia.

One day I sat down on my sofa, in silence and thought deeply about what I wanted to do. I know now that I was basically meditating and that all the answers are within us. I suddenly had the thought to travel, to do a big trip. Why not? Toeing the line in society was like groundhog day. I had to break free and now I knew how.

I felt so liberated, like a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I wasn’t weird, I was a traveller. It took me 25 years to realise it but I’m so glad I did.

There was an overriding feeling of guilt at this epiphany too. At the time I had an amazing lifestyle living in Liverpool city centre. I had plenty of friends, socialised regulary, ate great food and spent my spare time horse riding and at ballet class. My friends couldn’t understand what my problem was. Nevertheless, something was missing.

Pre-travel Steph riding in the Welsh countryside.

My other great love is Vintage fashion, here I am at a burlesque night for my friends birthday.

I had an amazing lifestyle in Liverpool.

The seed was planted and I wasn’t going to let it die. I booked a volunteering holiday to Spain on my own, something that old Steph would never have done. During my time in Spain I let go of so many inhibitions that held me down and I met travellers from all over the world. After the programme I travelled with the friends I made to different parts of Spain, I never knew where I was going to be from one day to the next. I felt so free and so liberated.

I had truly discovered who I was meant to be in life!

Bursting with happiness after discovering what really makes me happy in life!

Armed with a fresh take on life I finalised the itinerary for my big trip. I included Sri Lanka even though it seemed quite scary to me at the time because I wanted to push myself and learn about different cultures.

My departure date was the 23rd February 2013. The date the second phase of my life began.

 

Can you empathise with feeling like ‘something is missing’?. When did you first realise that you wanted to travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

300 year old Feria in Linares, Litres of Beer and Botellion

feria, fiesta, Spain, Andalucia

I had the privilege of attending a Feria (Fiesta) in Linares, Andalucia. The Feria has been held every year for over 300 years. Even more of a privilege was to share this experience with my Spanish friends who actually lived in Linares where the feria was held!

There’s nothing better than travelling with locals!

I have never attended a Spanish feria but I knew that they have a reputation for being crazy!

The Spanish know how to party!

As we approached where the Feria was taking place I was astounded by the sheer size of the Feria! Scores of tents were at the very back of the Feria, each holding their own ‘party’ with different drinks being sold and different DJs playing a variety of different music. There was also a very busy fairground and massive crouds of people.

Mnay women were dressed in traditional Andalucian dress (commonly known as flemenco dresses!). They looked absolutely beautiful.

We made our way in to one of the ‘beer tents’ and our lovely Spanish companions treated us all to a strawberry mojito. The music was very loud and the tent was full of people. Such a party vibe. I think that myself and my American and Australian friends were the only non Spanish people in there. For that reason I felt a little uncomfortable because I look so different to Spanish girls, I am not small and petite and my red hair stood out. I felt like a giant compared to everyone else.

tent, feria, Spain

After a quick trip back to the hotel we met up later in our Spanish friends favourite tapas bar which sold massive 1 Litre jugs of beer/Sangria and 5 tapas for 6 Euros!

Yes you read that right! 6 Euros for all of that food and drink!

 

beer, sangria, Spain

Enjoying my LITRE of beer!

After lining our stomachs it was time to hit the feria for the second time! We made our way to the entrance of the feria but It was absolutely packed! It took ages to try and weave our way through the crowds so we decided to get a good vantage point from where to view the fireworks at midnight.

They did not dissapoint!

The fireworks started at midnight and Spanish, English and American music was played during the display. We managed to get some beautiful photos and it was a beautiful memory. It was especially poignant when ‘what a wonderful world’ by Louis Armstrong was playing. It highlighted how happy I was and how blessed I was to have experiences like these.

feria1

 

It truly is a wonderful world.

 

After the fireworks we headed to a friends house to get the alcohol for Botellion. Botellion is a Spanish tradition which is basically drinking on the street! People drink on the street in England but it is usually not as refined as the Spanish way. We got Rum, Coke, ice and glasses for the Botellion. I would never have thought that I would be drinking on the street from a glass with ice….

The Botellion was held in a local park which was absolutely full of people, all drinking. Surprisingly there was no trouble and quite a relaxed and chilled out vibe amongst the revellers.

bot1

 

botellion, Spain, Spanish

 

Again it was a privilege to participate in Botellion, something that I had heard a lot about from Candeleda. Unfortunately we could only stay for one drink because we had to leave early in the morning for Valencia. I would have loved to have stayed all night with the Spaniards though.

Maybe next time…

 

Have you ever attended a Spanish Feria/Fiesta? If so what was it like?

 

 

 

An unexpected road trip to Linares!

trip1

On the last night in Candeleda we had a disco. I looked around at all of the people in the room and thought about how close we had all became during that past week and how upset I would be if I never saw them again. Giselle then came up to me and asked how I felt about going to Linares with herself and Bev the next day to visit our Spanish friends and attend the 300 year old Feria!

I was definately up for that!

After bidding our goodbyes to everyone we headed to El Corte Ingles to rent a car. Luckily one of our Spanish mates was on hand to help us with his local knowledge because finding the place to pick up the car was hard!

After going up and down many escalators and metro journeys we finally found the rental car. An Audi no less! We decided that Giselle would be the best person to drive because myself and Bev are used to driving on the left. (The correct way…)

 

After driving in circles for what felt like hours whilst we were trying to leave the complex roads of Madrid, we were finally on our way to Southern Spain!

Andalusia here we come!

As we were driving, the sun was setting. It produced the most beautiful colours and shapes that contrasted with the Spanish landscape. Although we were tired adrenaline kept us going and the excitement of travelling to a place so different than anything I had experienced before.

Real Spain!

skyred

 

 

On the way we stopped off at a cafe situated at the side of the motorway. I won’t lie, I felt a little intimidated when we walked in. We were the only non Spanish there. We ordered Tortilla de Patata and had a welcome rest. The cafe didn’t just sell food, no,  it also sold a delectable selection of knives and hunting paraphernalia! As if we wern’t intimidated enough!

Rested and refueled we then continued the long drive to Linares. We arrived at the beautiful hotel and promptly fell asleep.

We needed the rest to prepare for the excitement filled days ahead….

 

 

 

 

My first Travel Blogger Interview!

retro, 1950s

I have just been featured in an interview with the wonderful Neil from Backpacks and Bunkbeds!

Have a read and find out about my first travel experience and my exciting future travel plans!

http://www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk/travel-blogger-interviews/stephanie-pearlsnpassport/

 

 

 

Losing my inhibitions by being provocative in a play

walkway1

Each night in Candeleda we attended an assembly where the master of ceremonies talked about the day, future plans and there was also some entertainment. The entertainment varied and we enjoyed talks, presentations and theatre. The role plays and theatre helped the Spaniards develop their English skills by applying them in a different setting. This really increased their confidence in spoken English! Everyone was pushed out of their comfort zone at Pueblo Ingles,

And I loved it!

On the last night I was asked to take part in the big end of the week play! I was even told that I was specially picked for the part! My character was the racy mistress of Carlos and I had to act out some provocative scenes, even one where passion takes control of us in the restaurant and we ‘look to Cuenca’…. ahem. (Special Candeleda inside joke!)

We all took the play very seriously, and I had the injuries to prove it!

Some scenes were so active/racy that I had to wear shorts under my dress!

Despite my reservations I thoroughly enjoyed starring in the play. It brought back latent yearnings to be an actress and reignited my passion for drama! I was surprised and eletated to have some positive reviews on my performance that night! Some people even said that I should become an actress. I wouldn’t go that far personally but it was nice to know how satisfying thing can be when you have passion for something. My confidence increased dramatically because of this and I realised that life is too short to be shy…

Just go for it!

Starring in a commercial on another day.

Visiting the sleepy town of Candeleda and a Bee museum

beehive1

The hotel that we stayed at was a few miles away from civilisation. All that surrounded us was beautiful mountains, lush greenery and a few nearby farms. One day I took a bike ride to the surrounding countryside and found many charming farms full of cute sheep and goats. I think we were based in such an isolated area so that we had no distractions, (Apart from the very attractive barman, Mario…).

One day instead of the usual heavy workload of  teaching English via group activities and one to ones we were treated to a mini day trip!

To a Bee museum….

Most of the group were not expecting much from the Bee museum even though the Anglos who went the previous week said that it was a fairly interesting experience!

olive groves

 

 

Olive groves surrounded the museum

After hiking upthe hill to the museum we made our way into the main room of the museum ad were suprised (and slightly scared!

to see gigantic bee hives in the centre of the room!

bee hive

Luckily they were behind glass… Thick glass!

 

Suprisingly, the bee-keeper who owned the museum did not speak English. This startled me because it was actually forbidden to speak English this week because It’s supposed to be an English immersion programme. I was also wondering how I was going to understand a complex talk about bees in Spanish. I know the basics but come on!

My fears were unfounded because the Spaniards on the course translated the bee-keepers talk from Spanish in to English. This was no mean feat because the talk was very complex and talked about the anatomy and physiology of the bees. The Spaniards did really well at translating (Especially a girl who was a biologist!) and I felt really proud!

Suprisingly the bees did not sting anyone, even when the Bee-keeper and a member of staff went inside the hive room! They seemed more interested in working had to create these massive bee hives, a wonder of nature!

oldhive

 

 

 

An old style bee hive

 

Candeleda town

After buying far too much honey related products in the gift shop we were whisked to the quaint town of Candeleda. The town semed very sleepy and did not have many tourists so a bus load of people of various ages from all around the world and all wearing fetching name tags caused quite a stir!

 

I the centre of the square was a fountain. The man above sat beside the fountain and wet his hat in the water to keep his head cool in the summer sun! A Spanish friend of mine told me that this was quite common and proceded to do this herself!

We didn’t have much time in the town but we sauntered around the narrow streets, soaking up traditional Spanish culture! I loved the colours of the town. Everything was really delicate and pretty. I imagined that the people who lived in this town had always lived there and knew everyone, and everyones business!

fountain, Candeleda, Spain

 

Spot the Old Spanish guy behind me!

 

My Spanish friend Ana informed me that many Spanish streets are narrow to ensure that the street is always covered in shadow to keep the houses cool! What a good idea and something that I never though of!

narrow streets

 

townhall

Town hall

casade

 

An absolutely beautiful building covered in flowers! That’s my type of building!

flores

 

 

group

old

I marvelled at how old the buildings were, this bough above was bowing! (That’s a good tongue twister/complicated sentence for the Spaniards!)

 

Before long we then had to make our way back to the hotel to teach English to amazing friends in the sun.

 

Have you ever travelled to a small Spanish town? If so what did you notice?

 

 

Enjoying a BBQ at Sunset and Spanish dancing skills!

sunset, Spain

The Anglos and Spaniards were no longer strangers, they were friends. I’ve never had such a close bond with such an eclectic group of people before. We were all excited to let our hair down and enjoy a few drinks together at our first party night in Candeleda!

Everyone dressed up in their finest clothes and it was a welcome restbite from the hectic scedule. Tables were set outside and we enjoyed Spainish food such as ‘blood sausage’ and the wine flowed freely!

The sunset was beautiful and the sky was a vivid shade of crimson

sunset, Spain, Candeleda

 

The crimson sunset

S

Sitting at a table with my sickeningly beautiful Spanish friends!

After the BBQ there was a disco in the bar area. At first they placed some typical English/American songs and no one was really dancing. Suddenly a Spanish/Latin song came on and the Spaniards (Especially the men!) came to life!

They were amazing dancers and danced with such passion, drama and finess! The group from Seville were dancing ‘Sevillianas’ and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They couldn’t be more different to English guys! I learn’t later that many Spaniards learn traditional dance at School. Lucky things!

I was lucky enough to dance with a few Spanish men and I tried to shake off my British reserve and shake my hips to the music!

I made a mental note never to arkwardly shuffle on the dancefloor when I could shake my hips and really feel the music!

 

bev

Myself and Bev (The amazing Aussie!)

dancing

I was having the time of my life!

It was at this moment that I decided that I wanted to be Spanish….


Teaching English in Candeleda

candeleda, view

So there I was, on a bus full of Spanairds and Anglos from all around the world on my way to a hotel in an isolated little Spanish town.

We sat Anglo-Spaniard on the bus. I was sat next to a very chatty Spanish man. Initially I wondered what the hell we would talk about but the conversation flowed easily and I was treated to a running commentary of all of the attractions in Madrid!

My very own Spanish tour guide!

Talking to someone who does not speak English fluently and with correct pronounciation for over two hours is hard. I actually had a headache by the time we pulled up to the secluded hotel in Candeleda that would be my home for the next week.

I was pleasantly suprised with the hotel, It was absolutely beautiful! It had a pool, lots of grass and amazing mountains that looked super-imposed in the backdrop. It reminded me of the Austrian Alps in the Sound of Music!

There was a bar area too. Yes!

pool, mountains, Candeleda

The amazing pool!

candeleda, mountains, view

The ‘Sound of music’ mountains!

In Candeleda the ‘Anglos’ purpose was to talk to the Spaniards in English. All day and all night. Every day was filled with ‘one to ones’, ‘two to twos’ and group activities. The Anglos talked with the Spaniards all day and corrected their grammar/vocabulary if needed  and helped them with their presentations. Although the worldload was fun it was also very tiring but it got easier as the week went on. At the end of the week I actually started to think in broken English with a Spanish accent!

During the week we had many social events too such as the Quemada, Discos,  a BBQ outside at sunset, watching the Real Madrid vs Barcelona match, team building activities, plays and even an excursion to a Bee museum… Yeah thats right, a Bee museum!

Looking a little embarrassed during a team building activity! Thats my Canadian friend Linda on the left!

We had a well deserved siesta time everyday for about an hour and a half. I used mine productively sunbathing by the pool and playing ‘basketball’ in the pool with my fellow Spaniards and Anglos, being ever so careful not to wet my red hair in the pool!

The evenings were spent drinking beer (purchased from a very hot barman…) outside in the little huts. I was usually one of the last to go to bed and I had some very in depth and amusing conversations with both the Anglos and Spaniards. I especially looked forward to the Spaniards’ dirty jokes!

The huts outside where we talked and laughed until the early hours

At dinner time on the last day

I had an amazing week at Pueblo Ingles, I met some amazing people and I went outside my comfort zone everyday, and loved it! I was able to be myself and my confidence increased tenfold throughout the week.

I enjoyed helping the Spaniards learn English and I realised that I would like to persue this at some point in my life!

On the last morning there were many emotional goodbyes after the graduation ceremony. Many people were even crying. I did not want to leave.

After Candeleda I was prepared to head back to Madrid and spend the remaining week in Madrid, exploring the various museums and art galleries.

Little did I know that the remaining week could not be any different…
During the number 2 party Giselle asked me if I would like to go on a road trip to Linares (a city in Andalucia: South of Spain) with her and Bev. The plan was to meet up with some of the Spaniards from Pueblo Ingles in their home town and attend the Feria (festival)!

Of course I leaped at the chance to have an adventure!
So the story continues…..

 

Have you ever volunteered to teach English? If so how was it? Did it inspire you too change your career?

First impressions of Madrid

I arrived in Madrid in the afternoon, clinging on to my suitcase (just in case anyone decided to pickpocket one of my retro dresses from my suitcase!). As soon as I got off the plane I could sense a change in mood, Spaniards are a lot happier and more relaxed than the English! I could also see the sun through the darkened windows of the airport (Yay!)

Look how romantic this flower vending machine is!

I was feeling very brave so I decided to take the metro. The metro was fairly easy to navigate and similar to the tube in London, just a lot cleaner! I eventually found my metro station and walked out into the sunny street! I asked a lady (in Spanish!) where I could find the street where my hostel was and I eventually found my hostel.

Having never stayed at a hostel I didn’t really know what to expect. I had booked an all female dorm room as I didn’t like the idea of sharing with smelly guys!

The dorm room was small and consisted of 2 bunk beds. I had the bottom bunk (thank God!) A pretty Canadian girl was sat in the dorm room as I went in. We had a small chat and she asked if I would like to join her for some food at a nearby market. I then realised that hostels are a great plece to meet like minded people, just like all of the travel bloggers say!

She took me to the Mercado de San Miguel and reccomended that I try croquettas. Feeling fairly adventurous I chose 2 random croquettas without reading the descriptions.

What the hell, I am on holiday, in Spain alone! Nothing phases me!

The Canadian girl turned to me with a look of shock and said ‘do you know what that is?’ I initially thought that it might be mushroom. She told me that it was calamares with SQUID INK! Hmm, certainly something that I have never tried before. I ate it and it was actually quite nice if you can get over the dense black colour!

Mercado de San Miguel, a food hall filled with amazing Spanish food, tapas and Pinxos!

We then walked around the centre of Madrid and the Canadian girl was kind enough to show me some of the tourist attractions of Madrid such as the Plaza Major, The palace and the Cathedral. She even knew facts about each place that she had learn’t whist attending a free walking tour of Madrid! I have rarely had the pleasure of someone going out of their way to help me and make me feel at home. I really appreciated her kindness and friendliness. Especially because it was my first night alone in a foreign city!

The palace

The Cathedral

After showing me around the city the Canadian girl then went back to the hostel…to bed! I was full of energy and excitement at this point and I decided to find out what the Madrid nightlife was like.
I ended up in a place called Museo de Jamon where it was 1 Euro for a cana of beer and they gave out free tapas with every beer! What an amazing place! An older Spanish man started talking to me, he said that he was an English teacher in Madrid. He was friendly and we talked a lot about the differences between Spain and England.

I loved standing there in the  warm chaos of the bar. Everywhere I looked people were talking to their friends, talking to each other and generally being very sociable. It seemed worlds away from the drinking scene in the UK. A completely different drinking culture, and I loved it!

Eager to explore I then went for a stroll around the city. Even though it was dark and different I felt safe.

I eventually found a few more bars where the beer was cheap and the food was plentiful! Every bar gave out food with each drink that I boight. In one bar they gave me enough food to make a meal out of! How do the Spaniards stay so petite and slender when they have to eat this much food every time that they go out for a drink!  The men in the bars were happy drinking half pints of lager too (canas), very few men in England drink small beers, mostly pints!

I love Spain!

I went to bed in my bottom bunk and actually had a good nights sleep. I woke up and tried my best not to disturb anyone, I even remembered the ‘no plastic bags rule’ of hostels.

I then traversed through the chaos and confusion of the metro in the rush hour. All around me were (slender!) Spaniards wearing full suits. How do they not feel warm in the suits? I was boiling and I was wearing shorts and a vest!

I made it, to the coach meeting point for Pueblo Ingles. Little did I know that it would change me irrevocably…..