Gypsy's Travels

Friday, August 3, 2012

Spain 2012 - Settling In

Preparations for overseas travel begin long before the trip, especially when you are trying to mesh different activities. I thought everything was in place when Emily and I set off for the airport on July 1st. Unfortunately, we did not learn until after we arrived that our flight had been cancelled. Anger and disappointment mixed like oil and water. I didn't know which would win but instinctively knew that yelling and screaming would do no good. Fortunately, we had the option of turning around and going home until the next day. Also, I had planned a few extra days prior to the first event which meant we would still arrive on time.

Note to self: Always allow an extra day or so for unplanned delays. Find a way to check the flight status prior to departure, preferably a day ahead, even when it has been "confirmed" ahead of time.

The flight had been confirmed but then cancelled. The airline called a number (presumably the travel agent which subsequently denied having the message on their machine) and "No other flights " were available. I was geared to be upset with American Airlines but have since been tempered by their adequate service for the rest of the trip.

I had never before been to Spain so I was stumbling around on the Internet to find my way. After booking our flights, the next logical order of business was to find lodging. Lodging was plentiful in our first stop, Madrid, but there were many factors to consider. Price, of course, but even more important was safety. A woman and young girl traveling alone must make some allowances for their perceived vulnerability.

I finally settled on the Mora Hotel (Hostel Mora) which I booked through There were a few negative reviews, probably disgruntled Americans who expected everything to be "just like at home" but the positives appeared to outweigh the negatives and the room was easily booked. I provided a credit card number which was not billed until we departed from the hotel. The flight delay had thrown a kink into our plans and I was concerned we would have to pay for a night when we had not been there, but I notified the hotel immediately and they were very accommodating.
Our room was small by American standards but adequate for us and we were out and about almost all day. The building was old but newly refurbished and held the  charm of an olde worlde hotel. We took an elevator to our room on the third floor and were grateful we did not have to walk and carry our luggage up the minuscule stairs. We wondered why there was no electricity when we first arrived in our room. Then we recalled that the room key had to be inserted in the slot by the door to activate everything. 

  A tiny balcony overlooked the busy street below, but the noise and light were blocked from our room by double windows / doors and, with the room fan on, we slept soundly without interference from the outside world.

The hotel was just across the street from the Botanical Gardens and very near El Prado, so we overlooked a nice little park with lovely, warm street lights.
Emily slept for 16 hours after we arrived then I let her choose what she wanted to do on the first day. Of course, the answer was "Go shopping!" 
We quickly learned that "Rebajas" meant "Sales"!