How I Navigated My First Day In Europe Alone

You can’t stop someone who knows where they’re going.

Surprise! I'm in Europe!!

Maybe it was the fact that I had not slept in a bed for about 30+ hours, but I was still in complete SHOCK that I was here.  Like denial shock.  But as beat down as I felt, I knew I had been doing some serious moving from the time I left Dallas to when I [finally] got settled in Portugal.  

My commute went a little something like this.

  1. Overslept and woke up at 5am instead of 4am, because no, I didn't finish packing because I decided to spend my last night in DFW out watching basketball and more shenanigans happened. 
  2. Got to the airport around 7am, because if there was any day I was going to get to the airport early, it would be today. 
  3. My flight gets delayed because "we were waiting on a plane".  How are you an airport, a HUB airport, with no plane? I had never had such issues with American Airlines as that's who I usually fly with.  Major sideeye.
  4. After 1.5 hours of waiting for said plane, we were finally en route to Boston.  
  5. I had to walk briskly from baggage claim to Terminal E at Boston Airport to check in for my Iberia flight.
  6. I got settled into my seat and a gentleman asked me if I would be willing to switch to an aisle seat up front. Nope. #TeamWindow
  7. A short 5 hours and 56 minutes later, we were in Madrid for my stopover! 

Now, for those of you who have been following me on Instagram / Snapchat, there were two things I was worried about for this trip.  1. My Hair (handled, Thanks Brittany!!) 2. The long flight.

It wasn't that bad at all.

I did not get to upgrade to a Business seat, but I was still pretty comfortable.  Of course, sleeping pills and alcohol help (oops) but I felt pretty secure.  I was well fed, and Iberia's staff did an incredible job making its customers satisfied.  They were frequently walking the aisle pouring tea and coffee.  We had both dinner and breakfast.  They had a wide variety of entertainment options.  The wifi wasn't the best, so I gave up after the first two hours but between my magazine, music, and brief stints of sleep, I did alright.  I'm a geek that loves to track where we are in the sky and the duration remaining during my flights and they had a few options so that kept me busy too.  I might not automatically jump on a 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi, but I'm glad to know that a 6 hour flight is tolerable to me! 

When we landed in Madrid, I was dumbfounded by how beautiful their airport was.  The ceiling fixtures, lighting, and its sleekness had me in love.  Then I arrived to the Customs line.  The worst part about that experience was the wait.  When I approached the counter, I was not asked any questions at all.  He gave me my stamp and I was on my way to find an area to leave my luggage. 

My Stopover In Madrid

I found  Cosigna in Barajas Airport and was able to leave my duffel bag with them for 10 euros.  I marched my way towards their Metro line and set out for a free walking tour.  I had been reading up on the trend that countries are starting to offer free tours of the city and you determine how much you want to pay them.  Because the guides are working for those tips, they try their best to make the tours interactive.  Let's just say that my tour guide, Sebastian, was hilarious.  He threw slugs at every country, so naturally, the USA's joke was Donald Trump.  He was young, witty, but he knew his history of the city and was proud of it.  I learned a lot about Madrid (for instance, its name stems from Arabic).  

The tour lasted a little bit over 3 hours, which gave me just enough time to get back on Madrid's metro and get back to the airport without being stressed.  It turns out that rushing was pointless, because the security at T4 was all of 5 minutes long.  Again, Spain was not concerned with me, and I did not mind.  I grabbed some food and wine for the 50 minutes I had to spare and eventually was on my way to Portugal!

Getting lost on my way to my free walking tour! But I loved the streets.

Getting lost on my way to my free walking tour! But I loved the streets.

I Finally Made It To Portugal!

And there was nobody there to welcome me! What do I mean?  When I landed, there was no customs area for us to go through.  I didn't get my stamp either, grrr.  It's alright, I was officially in country #10 (insert: mind blowing).  Once again, I knew I was taking the metro and so I quickly followed the signs.  My hostel had sent directions and I knew my two colors were Purple and Yellow.  Their metro was extremely clean and I loved seeing the art and neighborhoods as I made my way to Porto Centro.  Seeing children play soccer in the streets and families taking a stroll put a smile on my face.  I was going through a completely foreign experience, but I knew the pace of Porto was the perfect way to introduce myself to Europe.

When I finally arrived at my hostel, my mouth dropped.  This was the nicest hostel I had ever been to! The location was already ideal, but it looked like a hotel.  From the elevator, details, lighting fixtures, art, and the special care the staff took to make me feel comfortable.  There is something special about being greeted by your name in a foreign country.  At least a few people here knew my name. 

The first thing I did in my home for a few days was take a shower because I knew I wasn't living right.  I was extremely tempted to take a nap, but I did not want jet lag to kick my butt even more so I went strolling for a travel adapter and some food.  I was  pleased with myself for not buying that $30 adapter in the airport, because the store next to my hostel sold them for $5.  Winning.  Then, I stumbled upon a cafe where I had some bomb whiting for 7 euros.  What I appreciated the most about the event, was the fact that the Portugal soccer team was currently playing in their Euro match, and I got to view it with locals.  That's an experience you just can't pay for.  

When I got back, the bartender at the hostel asked me if I was going to be attending the nightly Pub Crawl, and naturally, I said YES! I retreated back to my room to get changed and woke up at 12 noon today. 14 hours later.  

Oops. 


My Takeaways from Day 1

  • Trains really are my favorite way to travel.  You're a bit more intimate with the environment as opposed to a plane.  The rocking does not bother me because I know that I am on the ground. I also can read rail maps pretty dang well. ;-) 

  • Spanish and Portuguese share some words, but they are definitely not the same language.  Learn the difference!
  • I see why Europeans are fit.  These hills are no joke, and some women walk them in heels. Bless their hearts.
  • Dinner is in fact later, which works for me, because I believe in afternoon siestas to recharge.
  • Europeans know multiple languages and about US affairs, but can we reciprocate that? Hell nah. I need to get it together. 
  • There is a an artist named Nigga Fox. *insert heavy sigh*
  • I have decided that I am going to take on the persona of a celebrity since the stares are not going to stop. #HeyYallHey 

 

I cannot wait to see more of this beautiful country.  Continue to keep me in your prayers!

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How did I manage on my first day in Europe alone? Pretty well I'd like to think!

How did I manage on my first day in Europe alone? Pretty well I'd like to think!

P.S. Most of the pictures will be on my Facebook page or my Instagram account! So make sure you're following. :)