Sunday, May 06, 2007

Missing in action

Okay so I've been gone for some time, did you miss me??

So what have you been up to I hear you cry... ...well I stood in a queue for 12 hours, that's right count them 12 HOURS. In order to get a National Insurance number boy Spain works slowly. So I finally managed to get to the front of the queue, only to be told I need to pay money to the bank to get my card, OK no problem (i thought) only it was, it was a holiday for the next three days in Spain and the banks were closed, the two days it will be open I was going to be in Portugal (though i didn't know that at the time!) and t
hen the next two weeks I have 2 camps back to back so yet another month without payment looms!?! Fingers crossed all will be well though...

However I did have Carrie fly all the way from London to join me in the queue - yeah I know how to treat a girl!
Caz says... I could say something soppy here, like 'Standing in a queue with you is nothing and better than being apart" but in fairness, it was just wet, cold and annoyed me that at the end of it I still wouldn't even be allowed a work visa! Though YES, it was great to see you, just not the way I had expected to spend our first 5 hours together after being apart for 3 weeks!

We stayed at a cheap hotel that night, and all was well. UNTIL a bloody riot broke out in Madrid at 3am. No idea what caused it but Spaniards were smashing up streets and all sorts, and the police were dressed in riot gear chasing them. It appeared on the news the following day but I still don't know the cause.

Next day Carrie surprised me with a trip to Portugal for my birthday; We arrived at the airport early - in fact we were the first to check in, then sat around chatting close to our gate (at least we thought) then we starting to make our way to the gate thinking it must be ready to board only to our surprise hear them announce LAST CALL for our flight; they were closing the gate!!! I did a dad run (Peter Kaye will explain), to the gate to see WE were the last two to board - the plane had 10 other people on it!
Caz says... How many times have you been at a boarding gate on time, and not been allowed to board for at LEAST 10-15 later? Well this would have been the ONE time!

So that dilemma over we relaxed and later (well actually at the same time, as they are an hour ahead) we arrived in Portugal. We arrived into Faro, and we were staying in Albufeira, which is only 40kms west, jumped on an 'express' bus thinking we'd be there in no time... Well the fact that driver managed to get us stuck in a car park for 20mins, only 2 mins after leaving the bus depot could have been an indication of how things were heading... We have no idea why, or how we ended up in the car park - had the bus driver never driven this route before? It took a passing lorry (YES! in the car park!) to lead him out before we were really on our way... An hour later we got to Albufeira and headed for our hotel which was apparently only a few hundred metres away from the bus station... ...RIGHT!!

After 2.5 hours and numerous rouch sketch maps drawn by locals, we found the hotel only to be told they had closed (reason unknown) and we had been upgraded to a different one - she drew another bad map explaining its 5 mins away and easy to find and so we headed off again, 1 hour later and after stopping in a bar for a beer out of desperation we found the next place - thanks to the english bar lady who can give directions and can draw a decent map!
Caz says... See, the english in the resort were good for something! :-) So much for easy!

So now tired and exhausted from the travels and having seen most of Albufeira, whilst lugging our luggage around, we crashed onto the beds. Chewy says.... It was at this point Dade was pleased that I insisted we only bring hand luggage!... It turns out our original hotel was only 50m from the bus station! - the OLD one! Hostelworld you need to update the details!


So Albuferia (in the Algarve) was to be home for the next few days, but from what we had already seen, we'd seen most of it! It was nice enough but I'm sorry to say not somewhere neither of us would be keen to go again.
Caz says... among other things it was a little too quiet, and not enough to do if you weren't content on just lazing on the beach - which we can both do, for a bit, but then we need more - like snorkeling, or climbing, or the like! (Admittedly as we did not have a car we could not explore further afield, nor was it peak season, but from what was made obvious lying on the beach was the thing to do here...)

It was full of Brits who had issues with food and fashion. You know the kind of people who back home would never dream of wearing those ghastly colours or socks & sandals together, but here it was okay. The kind of people who eat huge ice creams and claim they have a thyroid issue and THAT'S why their overweight. Speaking of puddings; as it was my birthday I asked for a Apple Pie, Carrie asked for a crepe - who got the better deal!?
Caz says... the crepe was sooooo good! Strawberries and chocolate sauce, and lashings of whipped cream! Apart from that crepe though, I was rather disappointed in the food, far from cheap offerings of fabulous seafood and more like medicore british half board food! And fries with EVERYTHING! I even had fries served to me at breakfast when i ordered an omelet!

Carrie got a great sun burn, pics coming (I hope)
Caz says... not on your life! - Yes mum, it was my typical first 'burn' of the year, and yes I did take sunscreen with me! It was the wind that deceived us to how hot the sun actually was...

She took me out for my Birthday to a nice Indian restaurant, where I tucked in 'Indian style'; eating with my fingers etc. Only to hear some older guy criticising every table around him and not even discreetly - almost like he thought we didn't understand English. I heard him ask his wife "are they English?" She replied "Yes" at which point he says "and he's eating with his hands, eerrrk". He also kept criticising another table - a guy with tattoos, to be honest I was SO close to speaking out, but didn't for fear it may ruin the night, so we him to his ignorance and enjoyed our own company.

Caz says... despite our negative comments on the place, we did have a great time, and it was very relaxing not to have to be anywhere or do anything at any particular time - plus we got to spend all that time together chilling...

So after 4 days relaxing in Portugal and sunning ourselves we headed back to Madrid - not without first having one last almost disaster - we booked a minibus to take us to the airport, he was 30 minutes late which only made things look like a repeat performance.
Caz says... we had thought paying the extra 4€ and saving us taking 3 buses and 2.5 hours was worth it! But in the end our Portuguese driver drove in true Portuguese style and didn't let us down and we arrived back with no complications, the flights to and from where very good (www.ryanair.com) and cheap ;) Caz says... you thought 1 penny seats were cheap, try 1 euro cent seats!

So we headed to Rob's to reclaim the rest of our cases and he kindly agreed to let us stay there as Carrie was flying back at a stupid hour the next morning and I had a program the next day.

Carrie and I headed out to the Tapas meet and greet (it's where all the volunteers for Vaughantown meet) you also get free food and drink ;) After meeting the Anglo's Carrie said we had to stop off somewhere she knew?? She knows no where? Thought I. Suddenly a plot was hatching!

Anyway I deduced it was Andy, then realised he was in the south of Spain? Chris? yes, she had met Chris once and we got on well, that must be it. O Boy was I in for a shock!
Caz says... I was just impressed I'd managed to keep it all a secret so long! Do you still hate Surprises Dade?

We turned up at the station, met by Chris, then Emma, walked into the bar and there was around 20+ people there i had meet through my time in Spain, teachers I worked with, Rob and his girlfriend, Spaniards from camps, trust me this was a military operation to get three groups of people who didn't know each other together at one place to celebrate my Birthday, I couldn't have managed it!!!
Caz says... I had wanted to get you all the way into the bar before you saw anyone, but Chris's directions of, its right near Alsonzo Martinez left out the bit about all the sides streets between the two!

I realised just how special Carrie is and what she was prepared to do, and I also felt shit because I had told her I didn't want to commit to anything because I didn't feel ready for a serious relationship with anyone and I knew that her being in London and I in Spain was very difficult for us both. I guess I need to look into just what I do want and what I'm prepared to offer, what I can say is it was the nicest surprise ever and totally unexpected and for that I thank her greatly and to all those who attended I thank you for making the effort and taking the time.

You sometimes don't realise the lives you touch and the difference you make but it's nice to know that sometimes you do get to see just how much people care.
Caz says... And you are worth caring about, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADE!

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