|Even though I had a 13:44 departure time, I wanted to be sure to give myself plenty of time to get to the Chamartín Train Station in case I got confused or lost. As it turns out, it was one of the easiest train stations to figure out. I had an ample amount of time before my train left, so I did a lap of the station and settled on a place to grab a quick lunch. With no security to go through or a line to wait in to scan my train ticket, the actual boarding process today was incredibly easy. I walked down platform 12, walked into coach 1, and sat down in seat 17. It still amazes me that anyone could have done what I did without being stopped for 'credentials', but shortly after the train took off a man came around and checked our tickets. I don't know what would happen if someone didn't have the appropriate ticket. Maybe they'd just have to pay for it right there?
The train wasn't as fast as other trains have been, and that's because this trip wasn't on the AVE high-speed train that I'm used to. Salamanca isn't really too far from Madrid, so a "media distancia" train is used. Basically it was a less-comfortable train that went about 150 km/h, which is why the round trip ticket was about 40 €. And it goes without saying, but the views of the Spanish landscape were amazing! I had a few moments of fear when I looked out the window and saw that the train was on tracks that were at the end of a tall hill, and my first thought was What if there's a landslide? That's a completely irrational thought, but weird things happen. I managed to entertain myself during the trip by watching the first three episodes of "The Office" on my phone. And maybe I started watching "Pitch Perfect" again...
Once I arrived to Salamanca, I sent an email to Enrique, the owner of the apartment in which I'm staying, to let him know that I was on my way. I quickly checked out the map to the apartment and realized it wasn't that far, so I took the scenic route and walked instead of taking transportation. I arrived at my destination at exactly 5:00, and Enrique showed me the ropes of the studio apartment. It's definitely a one-room living space, but it has all the amenities. A trend I'm noticing from these places I'm renting from AirBNB is that IKEA furnishings are everywhere! I think just about everything in this studio apartment comes from there, which makes me an immediate fan!
Once I got settled into the studio apartment and rested up for a bit, I decided to head out and see what Salamanca has to offer. I decided to head to the local Corte Inglés and see what I'd end up passing along the way. I noticed that there are a lot of bathroom furnishing stores in the area, as well as kitchen design studios. I felt like I passed five of each business while heading to the Corte Inglés. As a fan of HGTV and home remodeling, I found it neat that this seems to be a big deal here, and it looks like a lot of the items being sold are fairly modern, so I approve of that.
I noticed that there were a few people heading away from the Corte Inglés that were carrying CDs with them. I did think it was kind of weird that people were, first of all, buying CDs, but I thought it odd that so many were carrying the same CD at the same time. I figured there was some sort of CD sale going on. As I approached the front of the Corte Inglés, it all became clear. 'Gemeliers' is a two-man boy band made up of twin brothers Jesús and Daniel Ovieda Morilla, who are natives of Sevilla. I recognized them from this video that I watched last week on YouTube when I was searching for information about Sevilla:
There was a fair amount of girls waiting in a very long line to get their chance to hug Jesús and Daniel and get their copy of their CD entitled "Mil y una noches"—I did not wait for my turn. I got a few pictures, maybe even recorded a brief video of a girl crying after she received her CD, and then I headed on my way. Since I don't really know who these guys are, I didn't care to stick around, but it was really cool to see this event and how people were reacting to it.
I want to mention something about crosswalks here. The one you see in the picture to the right is a very common crosswalk in Spain. When you encounter a crosswalk with white stripes, that means you have the right-of-way. You can keep walking and vehicles will stop for you. This has been a very, very difficult concept for me to grasp, because there have been many times when I've been walking down the street and a car was approaching the crosswalk, so I'd stop and let the car go through, but then the car stops and waits for me to cross, even though I've been standing at the curb. This feels completely backwards to what American crosswalks are, where the cars will have the right-of-way and the pedestrians are expected to yield to the vehicles. I can't grasp this concept well, and it looks like I won't master it while I'm abroad. Honestly, I'm okay with that since I'd rather not risk getting hit by a car, but it really is common knowledge that vehicles will stop for anyone using a white-striped crosswalk. Something to keep in mind!
I ended my evening by heading to Carrefour, which turns out to be Walmart's twin (I wonder if they'll make a CD together! Oh my... ). I took some pictures just so you can get an idea as to what it was like. I've noticed that prices here seem to be really low for a lot of items. Like juice, soda, pastries, and coffee are all way cheaper here than in the United States. If I get time, I should do a comparison of prices; that could be a fun blog! But for now, I am going to call it a night and enjoy this very comfortable bed from IKEA!!