I am Zoe Schuler, daughter of Doug Schuler. I have a feeling this will mean little to you. Rather, I will introduce myself as Zoe, the friend of the daughter of Rick Steves. I am beyond excited to be traveling with Jackie to Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon.
But, waking up at 3:20 a.m. felt wrong. Zipping up my suitcase felt like a mistake. Stepping foot in the airport felt ominous. I couldn't stop going over my schedule in my head, obsessing first over the different gate numbers and flight numbers, and then over the bus stops and street names. I felt intimidated knowing I would have to spend my first day in Barcelona sans Jackie, would have to navigate alone, relying only on my own competence. These feelings of dread were to spontaneously evaporate upon my first sighting of a square, or plaça.
After a grueling 20 hours, my last plane touched the ground, and I looked out my window to behold Barcelona... It looked like Los Angeles from the air, with smog just as thick. On the ground, I followed the directions provided by our hostel and got on the Aerobus. My travel fatigue soon translated to giddy excitement.
I got off the bus at Plaça de Catalunya and immediately knew that my tiresome journey had been worth every second. I wasn't in California anymore. The architecture was beautiful as promised, the people colorful, and the general feel bustling. I wandered the streets, asking for directions in broken Spanish from two different strange but friendly faces, and eventually found a locked door with a small sign that read "Hostel De Sant Amberg." I rang the buzzer.
"Hola," I stuttered.
I was immediately buzzed in, and opened the door to a small foyer. There was a staircase, an ancient elevator, and a small hallway with a turtle sitting innocently on the ground. I told myself to be positive as I climbed the dark, depressing, and hot stairs.
As it turns out, a heightened sense of positivity was not required. I opened the hostel door to behold a small paradise. Clean rooms, free Wi-Fi, and, most importantly, fellow travelers who were friendly right off the bat. While I waited for my bedding to be washed, I befriended an American named Frank and we headed off to get some eats. In my tired state, it didn't take long for me to let my life story come pouring out. We enjoyed a meal of very oily pasta, then headed home for a very long siesta. Four hours later I awoke to Jackie's gentle sing-songy, "Zoe... Zo... Zoe, wake up, girl."
About This Entry
You are reading "I'm Not in California Anymore", an entry posted on 29 June 2009 by Jackie Steves.