Ola Madrid

It was the strangest thing: I bought a ticket for a trip to Madrid. It would leave at 8:15 in the evening and it would get to Madrid by 6 in the morning, Madrid time (Madrid is one hour ahead of Lisbon).

Tals and I at the Plaza Mayor in Madrid on my first night after my trip to Spain without any real preparation

Tals and I at the Plaza Mayor in Madrid on my first night after my trip to Spain without any real preparation

I packed my bags and texted my best friend Tals for a weather forecast and what to expect from my one-week trip in Madrid. I think packed appropriately and by 6:45pm, I left my brother’s house in Lisbon and took the bus and two trains to get to Oriente station and into the bus that would take me to Madrid.

I bought a sandwich and two bottles of water for the trip. It was a ten hour bus ride and it was in the middle of the night. We had five stops and at some point, while I was stretching my legs in one of the bus stops, I noticed that the signs in the station looked different — the words — there was something different about them. It was then that I realised I was now in Spain and the signs were written in Spanish and not Portuguese. The bus driver switched on the third stop and from a Portuguese driver, we got a Spanish driver. Everything sort of made a shift from Portugal to Spain. I was the one who was caught in transition. Everybody else pretty much just moved along to everything.

I slept for a total of about an hour during the whole trip. I couldn’t get comfortable in those chairs, even if I had a whole row to myself. There was a man who spoke to the bus driver most of the trip and my seat was near the front so I heard them, even through my iPod. I was too excited anyway. In the darkness, I could barely make out the changing landscape. From Portugal to Spain. I was there.

We arrived at the Mendez Alvaro station and from there, I followed the instructions Tals gave me to get to her station. The train station was a little different from the Portuguese metro system and I was a little taken aback but eventually, I found my way and got out to see Tals out there waiting for me.

I made it to Madrid. Just like that, I got on a bus and crossed a country and found myself through an unfamiliar metro system to the arms of one of my best friends.

Who am I and when did I ever become so courageous? Who am I and how did I get this way?

Who am I and can I be like this forever?

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