||[May. 12th, 2009|09:48 pm]
Kelly J. Cooper
We got up early and, with a few missteps, made it to the train station well in advance of the 11:30am train.
Which we weren't on. The BF thought we MIGHT be on that train, but we were on the 12:15pm train. Yah, my favorite, HURRY UP and WAIT! So we waited. I bought snacks.
Then we thought we were getting on the right train, but it turned out we needed to be on the train BEHIND that train, so we rushed back and hopped on. There was a girl in our assigned seats, but the next set of seats up were much nicer anyway, so we sat there with a table in front of us and seats facing us across the way (that no one sat in, thank goodness).
The first train was just under 2 hours and very zippy! The countryside of France is lovely. Then we switched to this dumpy little train with lots of creaking and clunking. Boo. The countryside was still lovely, especially as we entered the Mediterranean area, but it was lulling and the seats were not meant for sleeping. *sigh*
A bit of excitement at the border, though. Men with badges came through and looked at the passports of all the men very carefully (just glancing at those belonging to women). I think they hauled someone off the train. Finally, we left and all the writing on the buildings changed from French to Spanish. Hurray! Still three more hours... boo.
We arrived and I had my first of FOUR cab rides that day. We grabbed a minivan-type cab with another participant in the APWG conference. He watched a soccer game on a little console TV down by the shifter most of the time. I repeat, HE WATCHED TV INSTEAD OF DRIVING, WHILE STILL MOVING FORWARD. This was terrifying to me.
But we survived and arrived at our 5-Star palace, the Hotel AB Skipper. No sign of the little buddy. Fantastic hotel we got at a discounted rate for holding the conference there. We dropped off our bags, washed our faces, and went downstairs to see who was around. We ran into one of our best buds and he dragged us off to go see a fountain dance to music while lights play over the water. Apparently, this is the first and oldest of its kind - this is the thing what Vegas ripped off. We took our second, and possibly most sane cab ride of the evening. He drove really fast, grunted to himself a lot, & wanted to know if we liked Obama (YES!) and thought Bush was crazy (YES!). When trying to explain where in the plaza to drop us, we resorted to "GRANDE AGUA" and he figured it out.
And we couldn't get to the fountain because BMW had closed off the street to fill it with booths and have a car show the next day. FAIL! We could see it in the distance, but our buddy broke his leg in a gazillion pieces and still limps, so we weren't going AROUND to get to it.
So we bailed & took another cab ride to the restaurant where we were going to meet a local friend. THIS one said nothing & drove to the beat of the German Techno on his radio. Terrifying. We arrived at the restaurant & asked if we could get on the queue for a party of 6 and the head waiter flat out refused us.
We called our local friend, and he was almost there. So we wandered the street a bit, looking for alternatives. He arrived and managed to talk the guy into putting us on the list, 45 minute wait. We went to the next restaurant over, which looked horrid, and the guys got beer (I got agua, "no gas," i.e., still, not fizzy).
Our local friend checked in once - still no table. Everyone finished their beers and we checked in again - we MISSED our OPENING! And the guy didn't even try to signal us. So we got on the queue AGAIN, this time we were behind two other names for big tables. After another 45 minutes and the sprinkling beginnings of rain, it was after 11pm and we were FAMISHED.
BUT WE WERE NEXT ON THE LIST! We lingered a while longer.
Finally, my BF, our best buddy, and I bailed and took a cab back to the hotel (I gave up and just covered my eyes after the first near miss of another car AND a pedestrian on one fell swoop) and managed to convince the chef to cook one last meal. He wasn't happy about it, though, because my fries were barely warm (our buddy said they're usually crispy & perfect) and my fresh mozzarella hadn't been drained, much less pressed, so about a 1/4 cup of liquid leaked from otherwise DELICIOUS sammich. (The guys had small pizzas.)
I went upstairs before they were done chatting and pretty much passed out.