My first attempt to get a train reservation to Valencia earlier today failed because I had forgotten to take my Eurorail Pass and passport with me. Unlike in France, in Spain the railway system requires reservations, and if you have a Eurorail Pass, you have to show it. So I returned to the hostel emptyhanded and tried to figure out my travel plans for the next few weeks. I have decided to go to Marrakesh to visit Faical (the guy I met on the train to Basel from Paris; see “Next Stop: Basel,” July 23, 2007) and his family, but I still need to buy the tickets. I couldn’t find any reasonable fares online.
As I was checking different travel sites, a girl staying at the hostel came by and sat down in the common room. She struck up a conversation with me and in between checking flight details, I chatted with her. Her name’s Shauntel. She’s from Holland, and she’s in Malaga studying Spanish. Back home, she works at a casino. I can tell that she’s a bit older, probably in her mid-30s. I finally settled on a plan: I would take the train to Valencia, stay there a few days, and then take a train to Madrid. From Madrid I would fly to Marrakesh on the 19th. I didn’t buy my ticket yet because I want to first receive confirmation from Faical that he’s in Marrakesh and that his invitation still stands. I dropped him a quick email. I told Shauntel that I had to head back to the train station, and she suggested we grab dinner later. We agreed to meet in the common room around 9:00pm.
This time I took a bus to the station, and I made sure I had both my passport and my Eurorail Pass with me. At the station I spoke to a different woman than before. She suggested I could take an early morning train tomorrow to Madrid and transfer to a Valencia-bound train there. This sounded better to me than staying two more days in Malaga and taking a night train to Valencia as the first woman had suggested. I also made a reservation from Valencia back to Madrid on the 18th.
Shauntel and I bought some sandwiches at a small shawarma place and then walked around until we found a nice restaurant for dessert. I told her about my disappointment at not finding chocolate cake on my birthday, and she offered to join me for some tonight. I made sure the restaurant had the goods before we sat down, and then, finally, two days after my birthday, I had my chocolate cake.