7//31 | Madrid/Valencia

***This post is very long, because it was an eventful day***

“I had a dream you drank all the orange juice without me, and I was really upset,” Grace told me as we were getting ready to leave in the morning. This made me laugh – I’d had the same dream.

It was the only time I laughed that morning, as everything went downhill from there. Even though we left with what we thought was plenty of time, we found ourselves rushing to the metro. It didn’t help that my phone decided it didn’t want to work the GPS correctly, and we ended up detouring for a bit because of it. We arrived into the train station with five minutes before our train left. I put my phone into my coat pocket, grabbed my suitcase, and hustled up and down stairs.

This station had a bit of an odd thing regarding departures: there’s an upstairs departure section and a downstairs one, and they both have the same platform numbers. So, when you’re looking for your train on the board, make sure to note which floor it’s on. Ours was downstairs, so down the escalator we went. We reached the departure area, and to our bewilderment, there was a security x-ray machine all luggage had to go through. And the line was huge. I was a little annoyed the guy we booked our tickets with yesterday didn’t inform us of this. So, if you’re traveling by highspeed train in Europe, make sure you get there a good half an hour before your train departs.

Anyway. We looked at the line, looked at each other, and said yep, we’ve missed our train. I went for my phone to check the time, and my stomach dropped. It wasn’t in my coat pocket. I quickly checked my other pockets, and my heart sank to meet my stomach. My phone was gone.

We retraced our steps, didn’t see it. Asked the metro attendant, hadn’t seen it. Went to the station lost and found, no dice. Also, our expensive train reservations were non-transferrable, so we’re also out twenty euros. At this point, I accepted that my phone was gone for good. Which was a huge inconvenience, since we’d been primarily using mine due to Grace’s phone provider being steep on the international data roaming. However, I was mostly upset at all the lost memories on it. My cloud backups had stopped a few months ago because it reached the storage limit and I’d kept forgetting to upgrade it. Notes spanning the last four years, contacts, pictures and videos…especially ones of my dear dog, Cooper, who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a week before I left.

Queue panic attack. This was the first one I’d had since my bus broke down and eventually died in Austin, Texas last year, but luckily I was able to regain control pretty quickly. Okay, my phone was gone. No use dwelling on it, we had an Airbnb host to meet in Valencia. We trooped back to the ticket sales counter and bought new reservations on a train leaving in an hour. “You will want to go half an hour before,” the lady told us, “because of the security lines.” Yeah, thanks, got that bit.

I feel this should be an honest account, so for the sake of my authorial integrity and the imagery of the post: I was crying (silently) for the next five hours. My eyes felt like they were going to liquefy.

I needed to get into my Airbnb account to message our host about what happened, and that if he’d Whatsapped me I hadn’t received the message, so we headed to a cafe. That done, we headed for the platforms to make sure we didn’t miss this train, too. I guess they’re looking for bombs in the luggage? Gun smuggling? Drugs? I’m not sure, since they only look at your bags and leave your person alone, but whatever it is they don’t want it on their high-speed trains. Normal trains, do whatever the hell you want.

The day’s oddness increased tenfold when we arrived in Valencia and met our Airbnb host, Paul. “The police found your phone,” he told me. “They called me about it. It must have been stolen.”

Holy shit. My tendency to leave notifications up on the notification bar for days on end had just saved the day – my phone is secured by both fingerprints and a pin number, but you can still see the notifications while it’s locked. I’d left Paul’s last Whatsapp message up, and the police called him – the only Spanish number I’ve ever had – in hopes of finding the owner.

Paul called the Madrid police back, and they told us I had to file a report with the local Valencia police. Paul, bless his heart, took me down to the station and stayed with me through the whole (lengthy) report filing. Luckily for me, since he was able to help bridge the gap between my poor Spanish and the police’s poor English. (Paul’s actually from Romania, so his Spanish was a bit broken but a damn sight better than mine. I’ve decided it would be prudent to resume my Spanish education.) And, just like that, I was given an address to go to at five where my phone would be waiting for me. 10/10 police, would recommend. I’m not sure if it was because I was an American tourist not staying in one place for long or if I was just incredibly lucky, but everything fell into place pretty seemlessly.

Unfortunately, Paul has had a far different experience than mine – three months ago his car was broken into and its entire contents were stolen, including all the car’s paperwork. That kind of thing is a lot more difficult to track down, from what I could gather, but that meant that Paul’s car is unusable until they’re found. It’s a Romanian car, and to get new paperwork apparently he’d have to get it towed all the way back to Romania which would cost a couple thousand euros. I’m hoping to get a message from him soon that the papers were recovered.

By the time we got back to the apartment and told Grace the good news, it was already nearing three so Grace and headed out in the direction of where my phone would be. This is going to sound very silly, but we hailed a taxi for the first time in both our lives. What can I say – Uber is doing well to take over. We got dropped off in front of the police building to identify where it was, then struck out toward a strip of shops. A shop called Flying Tiger ended up taking all the time we had to kill, as it’s one of those that’s filled with all the alluring trinkets, arts and crafts, kitchenware, snacks, toiletries, and everything in between that your heart could desire. All cute, and all very, very cheap. A dangerous store for someone who can’t resist tiny, cute trinkets.

This post is unflatteringly bulky, so I’ll wrap it up quickly and leave our evening out, as it was quite mundane and doesn’t make for great content. We retrieved my beloved phone and I promised to never call it a stupid piece of shit again (at the time of writing, I can assure you this promise has been broken many times since then.)

We did a bit of sightseeing after.


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