INTERMISSION: Train Pains

After exploring the expansive Alhambra, perched on top of Granada like an ominous and robust cherry, Jeff and I returned to Earth and began preparations for the first train ride of our trip.

Back in August we bought EuRail passes which would allow us to up to five train rides through Spain and France over the course of three months (if only we were gone that long!).

Our passes required us to “activate” them before our first trip, so we planned to do this a couple days in advance to avoid any issues on our travel day and possibly be delayed or stuck in Granada when we needed to move on. It was this sort of pre-planning that absolutely saved us from disaster when we would leave for Madrid in two days.

I’ll spare you the details and give you the short(ish) version (for once) on how this pass/train situation transpired. Essentially we found out – after walking back and forth from the train station three times (I’m serious) – that our passes did not grant us an actual seat on a train, nor did it actually reserve anything. So what was even the point of buying the pass? I hope someone can enlighten me because I still don’t know.

Before we left the melancholy and overcast-colored train station to walk back to the heart of Granada for help from the first hostel we would find, we decided to internationally call the company that issued the tickets so we could ask our questions in English and hopefully be provided with the answers we needed.

Unfortunately the representative on the other end was nearly as unhelpful as the grouchy, white-haired man we had dealt with behind the ticket counter only minutes before. So we left the train station exasperated and confused, and began the 30-minute walk back towards town. We spotted a humble sign for a hostel down a restaurant-lined alleyway about 10 minutes away from Plaza Nueva, and climbed up the spiraling steps to the third floor where their lobby was located. We figured hostels get asked travel-related questions all the time so they might have answers, and luckily we were right.

The two hostel employees at the front desk were able to help us (and also provided us with their phone number so the ticket agent could call and speak to them in Granada-Spanish if necessary), and so we once again walked back to the train station.

We bought real tickets (which apparently isn’t what we spent hundreds of dollars on back in August… go figure and thanks a lot, train ticket company) for our trip from Granada to Madrid, and also decided to buy tickets for the rest of our train travel as well. This way we would only have to go through this hassle one horrible time, and would be completely set for the next two weeks and between countries.

Thank. God.

We returned to Zafra hours later than planned; originally anticipating our train-ticket excursion would take about an hour when it ended up being more like four. Ugh. But we tried to embrace the mindset that now we didn’t have to think about train tickets anymore. Phew! Plus now we knew how long it would take us to walk from Dana’s apartment to the train station (and we practically knew the route with our eyes closed by this point).

The remainder of the day involved food, taking photos around the Albayazín (yes – again), and looking through our pictures from the Alhambra. We were both physically and mentally exhausted and this was the perfect way to unwind. Tomorrow would be our final full day in Granada, and there was still so much more to see.

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