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MAD Town (56k get with the times)

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Tolgak View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 December 2009 at 2:18pm

Voyage Log

Sunday12/13/09

16:50 Miami Time – I am at Port Miami, waiting to board our ship, hidden from view by immense walls constructed to keep us lower class in the dark. The port is stirring with emigrants, government officials, royalty and their advisors, merchants, and members of all other classes and occupations. To my surprise, there is also a jester among us.

18:50 – Our ship departed Port Miami about half an hour ago. It was an ancient vessel built in 1767 at the Everett Shipyard of Washington. Boarding commenced without warning by the ship’s crew. As I walked down the plank, my heart sank. The hold would be packed with wayfarers, tons of them! It was an adventure alone, my effort to sit down. The hull and people around me were pounded as I worked my way in. My knees have not a finger width of clearance. To my left is a Spaniard of late 40s in age, heavyset, with slicked back dyed hair and goatee, grey at the roots; to my right, a porthole. The man is a seemingly contented fellow, but provides no conversational value. Neither will the people fore and aft of my position. As I waited for the hands to release us from our moorings, I noticed a peculiar carriage at the port. There is no word on what happened.

            It took ages for us to leave port, as the ship was loaded to max capacity. The sails were fully unfurled, yet our departure took a miserably long pace.

19:00 -We reached cruise, and to my delight, there was a kerosene supply port in my vicinity. Ever prepared, I unleashed my gas line to power the lantern I had brought. I had an endless amount of light available to write of my travels.

19:11 – A man snores. Anyone asleep must certainly be awake now, shaken by the thunderous roar of his orifice as he merrily continues his slumber.

19:16 – The scent of our first rations fills the air. Chicken or Fish, it seems, though it is unclear at the moment.

19:31 – A beverage trolley rolls through. It is 6 pence for rum, hardly an affordable temptation for one of my meager wage. I accept some milk. Humbug! Barely enough for a suckling infant, and the hostess dares to smile as she transfers the vessel to my possession! This is truly a ship of horrors…

19:33 – We are pummeled by high seas. Drinks and babies fly across the cabin. Lanterns go dark as they are torn from their mounts by the shear forces. The hull springs leaks all over! I jest. It’s mild, at worst, but consistent.

20:43 – I had stopped writing as the meal was fast approaching. Chicken with potatoes or beef lasagna. Only a fool would choose chicken in this battle, and there were many a fool among my weary shipmates. It was soft with minimal flavor; just as us cretinous ruffians were raised to expect. There were other, similarly appetizing provisions, which served my stomach well but did naught one favor for my soul.

As I consumed this gruel they so shamelessly served, our vessel began to behave very mysteriously. The sound of waves lapping our hull increased massively. The waterline rose to the bottom of my porthole, as if we had gained a significant mass on our journey. The wench who had been serving us was unfazed, as were the other travelers. I had her query the skipper, whose response was less than satisfactory. “The captain doesn’t know what you’re talking about,” she quipped. The man is a liar, I am sure. I can smell it in the air, over the odour of cheap pasta and domesticated fowl, the powerful stench of deception. There is treachery afoot, and I seek to unveil it.

20:46 – She laced my tea with milk. Milk! A drink so reservedly awarded on its lonesome ‘fore the prior meal now flows freely into a drink in which it is a high crime to serve! It is another 6 hours to Madrid, I fear I may not last half that length.

21:01 – The torches are extinguished and rats pour into the cabin. The thunderous bellows of obese exhalation will soon deafen all aboard, accompanied with the shrill squeaks of these newly revealed pests. I cannot take this any longer. A few members of the crew have collaborated to perform a play called “Jumper.” It shall suffice for now.

21:27 – Dysentery is spreading fast among the passengers. A small child has already succumbed to death’s sweet embrace. The horror…

22:37 – All is quiet now. I too have been stricken. The only thing left is to sleep and accept my fate.

00:12 – Stricken with illness, and confined to such limited quarters, I lack the comfort required for a good night’s rest. I turned an ear a musically minded fellow at the stern, who complemented the gentle flapping of the canvas with his own midnight serenade. My eyes caught the light of a lantern hanging off the starboard plank. A streak appeared in the porthole, widening my gaze. This was it, a sight not seen since my last voyage to the old world. Stars appeared, thousands of them, accented by the fire of burning meteors meeting their doom as they strike this lonely earth. Were it not for the lantern which so spoils this sight, perhaps I would be seeing the faces of angels tonight.

1:20 – A heavy fog rolls through and an eerie silence falls over us. Not a soul on board is stirring. Some still sick from spoiled rations, all exhausted by the long journey.

8:10 Madrid Time – We have made it to port. It is another 9 hours until my voyage to Istanbul begins. There is light snow outside, but the temperature is variable. I am about to board a carriage to take me to the city center, there is much to see with such little time.

OK, I can’t keep it up. I haven’t the patience.

The Plaza del Sol is a 40 minute ride from the airport via the subway. I exit the station and don’t recognize a damn thing I saw from the pictures, the visibility was just too low. I walked in a random direction for a few minutes then decided to ask for directions to a Chocolateria, turns out, a popular one was just around the corner.

For 3.50 Euros, you get a heavy hot chocolate with churros. It’s an amazing combination, well worth the price.

It’s a Monday, a dreary one too, so the streets are empty and many shops closed. I head to the Plaza Mayor, which is just a minute walk from the Chocolateria. It’s empty, with the exception of a few novelty shops open.

I decided to walk towards the Royal Palace. Along the way, I found a church. Since I am a sucker for architecture, I stepped in.

All my other pictures came out bad, so I won’t post them here. A funny thing happened in there. As I was taking pictures of the place, everyone was looking at me with faces of disgust. I had no clue why until the priest pointed out my hat. It was comfortable and it kept my head warm, so I completely forgot about it being on.

A note about churches: There’s always one 15-25 year old female beggar in front of the church entrances. They all seem to wear the same set clothes and have signs with similar writing on them. It seems they are an organized group, but I have no clue who they are. Anybody care to enlighten me?

I continued toward the Royal Palace and found me a cathedral

The innards

The Royal Palace was right next door. Since it was a Monday, tours were not available. They let tourists run around a few choice areas, but that’s it.

Fun travel fact. Nobody knows how to take pictures, even if you draw lines on the screen and tell them where to place what object (my camera has a “Rule of Thirds” guide). Even wannabe photographers who had DSLR cameras and spoke perfect English couldn’t place me and my selected backgrounds properly in frame. In the attempt to set up a good shot of myself I laid prone on the ground to aim the camera. The guards didn’t agree with my idea and demanded from afar (with their whistles) that I stand up. I was planning on it anyway, as I’d mistakenly placed my crotch area in one of the numerous puddles that riddled the square.

I elected to shoot myself, and got this after about 30 tries (it’s not easy)

More Royal Palace

Outside

Since I didn’t realize I was in the real Plaza del Sol the first time, I asked for directions. In any case, it would have been better to see the Plaza of the Sun when the sun was actually out.

There were cops all over to keep the peace. Being a student age fellow in Europe, I was tempted to start screaming random crap from the street corner to start a riot. I'm not stupid, so I didn't follow through with it.

The world famous bear.

I still had 3 hours until I needed to hit the train, and had seen all my desired points, so I took a tourists map and started walking.

I present to you, the post office:

Some arch thingy

Park of Independence.

Balls

My camera died soon after this picture. Funny thing is, I started getting bored. I still had a ton of time left, so I was reluctant to go eat, but I had no where left to go that would leave me enough time to get to the restaurant suggested to me by my professor (a Spanish native). I decided to walk in its general direction, having no clue where it actually was.

It was at this point I got lost, and my two years of high school Spanish really paid off. I knew the general direction  I had to go, but had to constantly ask where I was by pointing to my map and asking “¿Donde estamos?” I don’t know if that’s the correct form for the question, but it worked every time. You should know, the street names are never posted in obvious places. They’re always posted on non-standardized signs, somewhere near the corner of a building at the intersection in a nonstandard location. Furthermore, the street names can sometimes be a mouthful, like the “Calle de conception de Jeronima,” not exactly easy to say or understand.

 

Anyway, after 40 minutes or so of walking, I found the restaurant I’d been recommended to go to.

I ordered exactly what had been recommended. A beer, and “Conchillo Asado,” or “Roasted Suckling Pig”

The atmosphere is very cozy, and the service amazing.

They started me off with bread and some sausage sitting in its afterbirth (by that, I mean the liquids left over after cooking the meat). I finished the sausage but kept the juice, because I wanted to dip my bread in it. The waiter reached to grab the plate, but I had to stop him and explain that I intended to keep at it. The fact that he was so quick was great, and I found no reason to fault him for trying to take the plate (he got a hefty tip in the end).

Pictures had me thinking the meal would be served as the piglet, cut in half, flattened on the plate… head and all. Turns out their piglets were large enough to feed entire families, so I got this:

I was hungry and I’m not one to complain about such things, so I had at it:

 

I didn’t have enough room for desert, but “When in Rom- er, Madrid…”

Got me some fried milk.

. After I was done, he asked if I’d like some coffee. It was just too much to stomach, so I declined and paid the bill. The meal had cost me over 35 Euros. Remember how I said the service kicked ass? Change came within about 15 seconds of me handing him the money. Even though my belly was about to explode, he still brought me three small donut things to finish off the meal. I ate them anyway, I just had to try.

Before I left, I got a picture with my server. He looked a lot taller from the perspective of the table.

No, that’s not my belly fat, I’ve got all my valuables in the sweater’s front pocket, where I can have a hand on them at all times.

A shot on the way out:

I went back to the Plaza Mayor to find it packed full of people.

…and your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

I hit the subway at the time I planned but got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

To end my voyage, I had to take a trip with Iberia Air to Istanbul. I hope my first impression was wrong, because it was a bad one. When I tried to sit down, I couldn’t fully get into the seat without forcing the one in front of me forward. The plane was pretty much empty.

Business class.

I asked the flight attendant if I can get into a roomier seat, she said I could sit between the two people in each emergency exit rows, but I wasn’t about take away their comfort for mine. I asked to sit in a business class row, which has the exact same seats with a greater seat pitch. As you see, there’s a total of three business class passengers, and the flight attendants can easily remember to not give me the same level of service. I even offered to go back to economy class after takeoff. I was denied. The two flight attendants didn’t treat any other passengers with respect either. They don’t need to act happy about their jobs, but it’s not professional to treat all the passengers in a condescending manner.

I grabbed an empty row of three seats after takeoff and tried to sleep, but for some reason couldn’t After arriving at Istanbul, I remained awake for a few more hours (until about 2AM local), totaling  my time awake to between roughly 33 and 35 hours. Despite the few setbacks, it was still a great beginning to my trip. More to come as I go more places...



Edited by Tolgak - 15 December 2009 at 3:57pm
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ParielIsBack View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ParielIsBack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 2:35pm
Exciting!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rofl_Mao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 2:56pm
I love it! great story!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote choopie911 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 4:05pm
Looks awesome, as I said on your facebook it's so cool to see some of that stuff again. Also I'm pretty sure that might be the same chocolataria I went to, as the name is the same, and it is really close to Sol.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MeanMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 4:06pm
Super jealous. I shouldve went to Spain when I had the chance...


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slackerr26 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 7:11pm
you were in the port of miami the same time my friend was. he was down there either saturday or sunday for a cruise
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ThatGuitarGuy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 7:23pm
I don't think he actually meant "Port of Miami"  I'm assuming he was speaking of one of the airports down there.

Interesting read, awesome pictures.  Hope you're having fun.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slackerr26 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 7:33pm

Originally posted by ThatGuitarGuy ThatGuitarGuy wrote:

I don't think he actually meant "Port of Miami"  I'm assuming he was speaking of one of the airports down there.

Interesting read, awesome pictures.  Hope you're having fun.


i have no idea. its been a long day. i just saw port of miami
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rofl_Mao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2009 at 10:13pm
I think he meant Miami International Airport, as the Port of Miami only does ships.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 December 2009 at 1:37am
Awesome start, you should have kept it up, ya scurvy dog.
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