Thursday, May 31, 2007

a little before noon (your time) on tuesday, i hopped on my bike, carrying nothing but a backpack full of clothing and an ipod. as it turns out, clothing + ipod + random odds and ends = a relatively heavy backpack. im not talking copy-box-heavy, just kind of heavy for a 20-mile ride (ben, if you are reading this, which you probably arent because you dont have a livejournal, you are goddamn crazy to plan on riding across country without paniers because a 20lb bag starts to feel like 100lbs after about an hour of riding). after getting confused in rock creek park, back-tracking a ways, walking my bike up tilden and then riding the rest of the way to reagan national, my back hurt but i felt good. i figured that if i was going to be in an airplane for the next forever or so, a bike ride there wouldnt kill me. then things started to go wrong, as they often due for people whose attitudes about travel are as lax as mine tends to be. normally, i hate being rude to people in the service industry, but when the baggage people told me that i couldnt bring my bike on the plane without a box (which the website specifically said i could do, so long as the pedals were removed and the handlebars turned sideways), i had to make a bit of a fuss, and eventually they relented.

i enjoyed stranger than fiction, wrote a little, and slept.

at a little after 7am (my time), i got off the plane in madrid barajas, and began wandering around the airport looking for the metro. the next thing that went wrong was that i was told i could only bring my bike on the metro on weekends and holidays. ill be damned if was going to shell out for a taxi, so i started riding. i ended up on a highway where bikes were clearly not allowed, so i asked directions at a gas station. several gas stations later, i was on the main road towards town. i noticed that when i put my seat post back in after lending my bike to alexia it was still a little low, so i stopped and adjusted it. upon tightening the seat collar, it snapped. i spent the next couple of hours getting lost in a foreign city with no map (the streetwise madrid map that i bought at borders turned out to be useless because it only included the touristy downtown area) with the seat on my bike all of the way down, killing my knees, and a now even heavier backpack. but the weather was damn nice, so i wasnt too bummed.

then the atm wouldnt let me take out any more money. i called the bank less than a week ago to tell them that i would be in europe, and they still fucking cut off my account after i withdrew 20 euro for food. oh yeah, and i was supposed to give my landlord cash upon arrival. luckily, she was very friendly and didnt mind waiting until i straighened things out to get the money. i did the following things that day: bike (uncomfortably) to where there was supposed to be a bank of america a few miles away (there wasnt), bike another few miles to where the guy at the first wrong location said there was one (there wasnt), bike back toward my new place, take a detour to find a bike shop i was told about (coulnt find it), bought food (shitty selection but dirt cheap prices), nap for 3 hours, read the stranger cover to cover (looking back, i should have brought something else to read, but it was the only thing i had with me), eat, take the metro downtown, wander around, and pay 2.50 for a fucking soda so that id have an excuse to sit at a table outdoors at 12:30am.

now im at the computer lab at nyu. no one is here because the program coordinators are at the airport picking up the people that are arriving today.

to do:
-find bike shop
-borrow american cell phone and call bank of america, probably be rude to service worker again
-eat something
-find bookstore that sells american books and purchase new dave eggars novelç

-ive only been asked to repeat myself once and the only person that has offered to speak english to me was the woman at nyu. my spanish must be pretty ok. nevermind that i only understand about 1/3-1/2 of what they say to me.
-nice weather
-nuria is really nice and i think she´s funny, although its always hard to tell in a foreign language.
-no jet lag

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