I awoke early this morning to head to Madrid with Steph and Kathryn. It was a painful awakening since I had only gone to bed two hours earlier. As I was putting on my shoes in the dark, the door swung open and Kathryn barged in. I had asked the girls to wake me up if they didn’t see me downstairs in the lobby, but I hadn’t given much thought to the logistical challenge: How would they wake me up without waking up everyone else in the room? Frankly, I figured they would leave without me. To my pleasant surprise, however, they turned out to be quite resourceful and determined. They asked the receptionist on duty to unlock the door, and that’s how Kathryn turned up in the room looking for me. I assured her I was awake and almost ready.
We raced to the train station to catch the 7:30am train. I didn’t have a reservation, but I didn’t think I needed one. In the past I often just showed up at the station and produced my Eurorail pass. We took the metro to the main train station. There I gave my metro pass to a girl heading towards the metro station. I didn’t need it anymore, and it still had at least one more ride available. Steph, Kathryn, and I arrived at our gate, and the two of them showed their passes and walked through. When it was my turn, I handed the woman my Eurorail pass. She shook her head no and told me I needed a ticket with a reservation. But I have a Eurorail pass, I insisted. A man, another member of the staff, approached us, and the woman showed him the pass. No, he asserted shaking his head, I needed a reservation. Fine, no problem, I thought. I’ll get a reservation for the next train leaving in an hour, or if I was lucky, I could maybe even get a ticket for this train since there were still a few minutes remaining before departure. I said good-bye to the girls, and they headed off. At the ticket counter, I asked the woman for a reservation for the same train. That was not possible, she informed me. In fact, the next train I could get on did not depart until 6:30pm. I was dumbstruck. How could that be? They didn’t have even one seat available? I weighed my options, the few that I had. I would have to take the 6:30pm train. There was no way I was going to wait at the station though. I decided to book the ticket and return to the hostel. Too bad I gave away my metro pass though. I would have to buy another one. I saw then a discarded National Rail pass lying on the counter. There was no way it would work on the metro, I thought, but I pocketed it anyway. I’d give it a shot. As I made my way back to the metro, cursing my stupidity for not making the reservation earlier, I thought again about throwing away the used pass. For some reason though, I hung on to it, and when I got to the metro, the pass worked. Thank God for karma.
Back at the hostel, the guys were kind enough to give me back my bed until check-out at 11:00am. I relished the opportunity to sleep for a few more hours. I returned to the train station later in the evening and took the 6:30pm train to Madrid. I finally arrived in the capital late at night as a light drizzle blanketed the city.