JACOB BARBA- I don’t drive in Spain. I can’t drive. It’s not just the fact that I don’t have a Spanish license, either. I can barely drive around a city on a good day. I have nightmares about parallel parking, and my blood boils when I have to turn down a one-way street in the opposite direction I need to go. Add to that Spain’s byzantine traffic laws and I happily leapt onto the public transportation instead.
Said public transportation is actually very nice; it’s cleaner than the Paris Metro, and less complicated than the already very simple London Tube. The buses have free wifi, and most metro stations have 4G coverage. It takes a bit longer than it would be driving, but I’m happy with it for the most part. Except for one aspect. There is so much waiting.
You may wonder why I have a problem with waiting when I just said I was fine with a longer travel time. To that I say that there is a difference between traveling and doing nothing. I would rather walk thirty minutes to my destination than spend twenty minutes taking a train, if that meant I could have thirty minutes of uninterrupted progress. I would do that in Madrid, except for the fact that the UAM, where I take my first class most days, lies outside of Madrid, and the two-hour walk is a little too much for me.
I have a routine of waiting hammered into my schedule. After I leave the house, I walk to the República Argentina metro stop. There’s one street crossing, but I usually cross regardless of the signal because there are barely any cars that drive through there. I go down and take line 6 going towards Nuevos Ministerios. Or I would, if I didn’t have to wait five minutes for the train. Then when I get to Nuevos, I wait for the Cercanías train towards Colmenar Viejo, or some other destination. It doesn’t really matter which, because my stop is before any divide in the destinations. Even though I can take any train, the wait here can last from two minutes to half an hour, depending on what time of day I arrive. After my university classes, I take the Cercanías again, and this time the wait is mercifully five or so minutes. I get back to Nuevos Ministerios and, rather than wait some more, walk down the Paseo de la Castellana to get to the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program center. Occasionally I have to wait for a crosswalk, and it galls me, but I survive. The truly annoying wait comes at the end of the day. I arrive at Avenida de América, the closest metro stop from the program center, and I have to go through at least four crosswalks every day. I wait at every single one. Step out of the metro. Wait. Cross. Wait. Cross. Walk for a bit. Wait. Cross. It’s even worse after 9:30 p.m. because the closest exit to my house closes, and I have to wait at even more crosswalks. I’ve exited stations farther from my house than this one out of hatred for those crosswalks. It’s one part of city living that I’m seriously struggling with.
Enough griping, though. I’m in Spain, I should be talking about the host of other amazing stuff here. Next post will be something fun.