Europe | Spain | Andalucia | Sevilla – Cockroaches and cutlery
Barely five days after deciding to head off into the wide blue yonder I find myself pack on my back, running for the train, wheelie suitcase rattling along behind me. Surely it isn´t really backpacking if you take a dolly trolley? Well, apparently it is as almost everyone I see that could vaguely be described as ´backpacker?on my train to Standsted is toting one. They seem like a traveller´s dream – with their wheels and their smooth edges what is not to like? Well, by the time I get to my destination I´ve already lost the zipper to one half of the zip of my trolley and the combination lock is looking decidedly dodgy. I find myself thinking fondly of my 35L Lowe Alpine pack, straggly straps and all, sitting forlorn and forgotten on my bed at home…. poor pack!
But I digress…. I make it to Stansted in record time and feel smug as I sail past the crowds and join a queue of 3 people and check in my dolly trolley. At a mere 8.7kg Dolly is my lightest ever pack – again the smug feeling wells up inside.
Full of pride at my packing prowess I head to the security check-in. ´Clunk!´goes my daypack (considerably heavier than it´s svelte partner Dolly, and with many awkward straps) onto the conveyor belt and I walk through the metal detector and eagerly await my pack. Hmmm…. it seems to be stuck on the rollers. That´ll be those darn straps…. and what´s this? The security lady is beckoning to her colleague and they´re looking together at the screen. Oh no! My pack is being re-routed on the conveyor belt!
´Is this yours?´security lady asks, Ýes´I reply, confident that I´ll be able to help. There´s something long and thin in there that we need to check out, says the security lady. I wrack my brains to think of what it could be but come up blank. Meticulously, and with genuinely helpful comments from me, security lady unpacks my entire back pack piece by piece scrutinising the various seemingly suspicious objects. It takes about 5 minutes. At the very bottom is a camping butter knife. Hopelessly blunt and toothless save for it´s bottle opener hook. Oh dear. I´ve never carried so much as a book of matches that I shouldn´t have through customs and now here I have denied carrying a knife I quite clearly have in my bag.
I panic slightly. Ít´s OK, I can post it to myself!?I say helpfully. ´Do you have time?´Security lady asks. I´m still feeling smug from my record journey to the airport so I tell her that yes I´ll be fine. So off I toddle to post the offending article back to myself. It made sense at the time, it really did.
As I sit down to write my address on the parcelled up knife I notice the time. 15.47 I also notice that on my boarding pass it says I have to be at Gate 40 by 16.05. I get that sinking feeling that for the sake of an incomplete set of camping cutlery I could miss my entire trip to Spain. I gulp. Hurriedly I post the parcel and head back to the security check-in, which to my horror is now a sea of people.
Luckily, the gent at the disabled gate has been asked by security lady to let me in. I go up to the gate and he winks at me as he lets me through. He must be 60 and clearly doesn´t remember security lady talking to him at all. I rush to the metal detector, the only thing on my mind the time I need to be at the gate and I step through. This time it beeps! I get the full rub down from a very dour security lady (not the friendly one from before).
I´m really starting to panic by now but know better than to show it so I say cheerily ´it´s OK, I´ve been through once already? Oh dear, oh dear. Now I have ‘terrorist’ written through me like a stick of rock. I imagine the scene, me in the dock pleading my case, as I´m sent down for posession of a lethal butter knife with intent to seriously Chinese Burn.
Relief, I make it past security lady number two but an attractive security gent (not the 60 year old!) is asking with a smile to see my bags. OK, what harm can it do? He says ‘so you´ve been through once already eh? You were testing us?’ He takes my mobile away to swab it with his metal detector. I say, slightly maniacally at this point I will concede, ‘yeah, with a butter knife!’. He looks at me sharply and I can tell that I´m seconds away from the full strip-search routine, which for some reason isn´t as enticing as I had imagined it might be with such an attractive security guard.
After what seems like an age I am free and I notice with horror that it is now 15.52, I have only 13 minutes to get to Gate 40 and I have not the first clue where it is. I run, hell for leather, backpack swinging to get to the gate. Being in less than tip top condition I arrive at Gate 40 at 16.01 sweating, my chest heaving. There´s no-one there! In horror I turn to the sour-faced recdeptionist and say ‘Seville?!’ and she says ‘Gate 42’. I´m saved!! I collapse at Gate 42 at 16.04, a sweating, wheezing heap. Boarding starts a full 40 minutes later. It is free seating on the flight and for some reason nobody wants to sit next to the puce, panting crazy lady from the departure lounge…
Fast forward to the hostel. I´ve managed to cope with having no Euros (I was so involved with Cultery-Gate that I forgot to get any at the airport) and haven´t been raped and murdered by the cabbie despite his colleague leering and making faces as he drew level with us at some traffic lights.
So, at the hostel at last. It looks nice. The entrance looks just like it did on the web, and the inside is dark wood and very rustic and what I imagine to be traditional Spanish. While I´m waiting to check in some of the receptionists friends leave, singing ‘la cucaracha la cucaracha… where we were smoking la cucaracha!’ Then laugh as they leave. It might´ve passed for a joke, had the receptionist not come out with a tissue to catch the offending vermin. This was clearly something he had to do on a regular basis.
OK, you get what you pay for and this isn´t an expensive place. So I decide to put it all behind me and go out for some food. The receptionist tells me about a nice place with nice prices just down the road. I should´ve smelt a rat (or a roach) when he navigated towards it by MacDondald´s. It was the only empty restaurant on the whole street, but the food was reasonable and it gave me a chance to practice my Spanish (and realise that up until this point I´ve been speaking Italian).
On my way back I wander through the old Jewish Quarter where picturesque old Farmacias jostle for attention with Burger King and TopShop. Tomorrow, once I´ve survived a night with the roaches, (I can see an ex-roach by my feet as I type this) maybe I´ll head over to Ben & Jerry´s for breakfast before I wander round to H&M to see what they have in the sale. Then I´ll visit a museum, I really will.
This is the life… viva Espa?a!