I’ve just arrived in Zaragoza, Spain for the Innovate conference. It’s 2:30 in the morning, Spain time, and I’m a mess.
Why? It all started when I realized my housekeeper had washed my passport (my fault, not hers) just a few days before I was to leave. I spent a large part of the week getting a replacement and in doing so pissed off a bunch of people because I had to reschedule or cancel meetings.
Then, we rolled out the new TechCrunch look on Thursday night, so I didn’t sleep much (I was up until 5 am taking my beating in the comments like a man). On Friday, after little sleep, I rushed to Tiecon to moderate a panel on Web 2.0 that ended at 4 pm. My flight to London was at 7 pm and I hadn’t packed yet, so I rushed home, packed and got to the airport just in time for the flight.
Other than getting no sleep on the flight because I’m 6’4 and the flight attendants bang my knees every time they come by with the trolley (and then give me a dirty look), everything went smoothly in London and on the flight to Madrid. But then things fell apart. Mostly because I had gone two full days without sleeping, and I was pissy about all of the damn “too green” comments about TechCrunch.
People here in Spain don’t speak Spanish. Or at least the Spanish that I learned in high school from my Mexican Spanish teacher. I don’t understand what they’re saying, and they certainly don’t understand me. This lisp thing, whatever the reason for it, just sounds wrong to me. Even getting a taxi to the train station from the Madrid airport was impossible.
And the conference, as I mentioned, is in Zaragoza, far from Madrid. I knew I had to buy a train ticket. But I wrote the name down wrong. Instead of Zaragoza, I wrote Zarazoga. So I needed to say (with a lisp) Thhereathhoga, but I was saying Zaragoza. They literally couldn’t understand me. And when they finally did, they notified me that the train was sold out.
I’ve never heard of a train selling out. You go to the train station, you buy a ticket, you get on the train. They don’t sell out.
I went to the informatioin booth to find out what hotel I should stay in, and try to book a train ticket for tomorrow. They didn’t speak English, and my Lating American Spanish got me nowhere.
Then I realized I could rent a car…I mean, how big is Spain anyway? If all of Europe is the size of the US (it is, economy wise, but close enough), then Spain must be about the size of the bay area, right? I could rent a car and probably beat the train there.
I got a car (this was actually pretty easy), got a map and headed off just as the sun set. I drove West towards Portugal becasue it was dark and I misread highways A1 and A2 on the map (don’t do this). Zarazoga is actually East. That killed an hour. When I finally found the right way, it was very dark and very late and the only music on the radio was really bad Euro club music (no Gypsy Kings). So I pulled out my iPod and cranked up Eminem because I was feeling angry and sorry for myself. I had the iPod in one hand and a Red Bull in another hand and the steering wheel in there someplace. People here drive really fast, I noticed right about then, and pass aggresively on either side of you (just like the US). But this car has power steering and my car at home doesn’t and I oversteered trying to move away from the rushing lights and nearly killed myself.
And by the way, Spain is significantly bigger than the bay area.
But I finally arrived in Zaragoza at about 1 am after a very long drive across a significant part of this country. I had the hotel address written down, but the streets here aren’t marked. They just aren’t. I dare anyone to prove otherwise. Being who I am, I refused to stop and ask for directions in my broken Spanish. I just drove around the city for an hour, street by street, until I found the hotel.
Everything is good now though. The hotel has excellent wifi access. I may not leave the room again until I have to leave.
Update: Did someone link to this? The comments keep coming, and they’re getting a big aggressive.
I apologize for any offense, none was intended. I was mostly making fun of myself. I’ve lived in Europe three different times and have visited Spain on multiple occasions. I enjoyed my time there and the people, as always, are very friendly.