Sometimes you’re at a place where you’re struck by how stunning it really is. You can’t do anything else than look at how the people do things completely different than what you’re used to, or you’re just struck by how beautiful the environment is at a place you’re not yet familiar with. It’s the wanderlust coming alive, the never ending hunger to roam the Earth and see as many of it before your heart stops beating and you’ll become part of it. But sometimes, that’s just not the case at all.
You see, this is about nothing more than a girl, so if you’re not into some guy rambling about a time he got stood up, I wouldn’t read this. I mean, I know it’s not the best of tactics to tell people not to read something that you’ve written yourself, but it’s just a heads-up to know that this is not your typical travel blogpost that you might expect from me.
An unexpected invitation
So let’s dive into it. I was staying at a hostel in Madrid with my friends. After we ate Indian somewhere down town, I decided to leave the group and walk around on my own. It got me right back to my hostel, where I sat down to read a book – Sapiens from Yuval Noah Harari. The hostel had a quadrangle and the dorm rooms were in the building surrounding it. There’s more people around, but I’d decided for myself I really wanted some time alone, so I just stayed on my own in the midst of all these people.
All of the sudden, I hear a girl calling me, about five metres away from me. I look up, and see that she’s another kind of beautiful. Blonde hair, deep eyes, joyful smile and the most important part – what I’d later discover – she was really funny. You see, I don’t care for girls who are only just good-looking, because most of the time, they’re boring as hell. BUT this girl was incredibly funny and really interesting as well. She kept talking about laws of attraction, she could sing insanely well – as she showed me a video of herself singing on her Instagram page – and she seemed to be genuinely interested in anything I had to say.
Going for the kiss
We’re with one other Australian and an Italian girl. We’re drinking and shrinking, for the Italian girl seems to have stumbled upon some boy troubles. After an hour, we’ve finished the entire bottle of white wine and we’re joined by my friends. The Italian girl is feeling a lot better, she says, and so we go into town with the entire group.
We get some ice cream, walk around and then go back to the hostel where we find a dude from California who’s somehow full of energy – he had to fly back the next morning, so he was staying up all night. We stopped drinking at this point.
As the group thinned out, eventually only the Australian guy, the Californian dude, the girl and I are left. We go back into town, walk around and have some donuts. We then go back to the hostel, and stay up a little longer. Eventually, we decide to call it a night and when I walk her back to her dorm, we stop, talk for a bit and then we kiss.
We leave it at that though. My friends would later call me an idiot for not going up to third base, but I didn’t want to do that yet, because I didn’t want to be coming on too strong – I thought I was only just getting started.
A weird encounter
So the next morning we run into each other and my naive brains basically thought: let’s just have a friendly conversation, don’t mention last night, and just act like a normal human being. I think I nailed that part, to be honest, but I didn’t think she would be hella awkward – I thought she never needed to be, because of her looks, so why should she? A very shallow way of thinking of mine, I’d later tell myself, because in a way, we’re all awkward sometimes. Anyway, from here on, everything in this story just turns to shit, but I think it’s too funny not to tell.
So we meet, I ask her some basic questions – if she’d slept well, how her breakfast had been; that kind of stuff. Her answers are short though, and everything about her way of speaking screams that she doesn’t want to talk right now. But I want to take it to the test, so I tell her I’m going to get some coffee and ask her if she want to join me, or if I can get her a cup as well. She refuses. This should be a sign that she needs some space, so I leave her alone for the rest of the day.
Forget and move on
Me and ‘the boys’ are going into town. We visit the Prado Museo where we find an entire wing dedicated to Hiëronymus Bosch, a painter from our hometown in the Netherlands where my friends and I grew up (the city of Den Bosch). It’s a fun day and I forget all about the awkward morning I had with the girl from my hostel.
When we return after dinner somewhere around the evening, I run into her again. All of the sudden, she apologizes for this morning, saying she wasn’t very friendly and she didn’t want to be coming across as a shitty person. To be honest, I’d sort of forgotten all about it at this point, and so it surprised me that she would even say that. But it showed character and it must’ve taken some courage to say that, so I thank her.
An evening alone instead of going on another pub crawl
‘The boys’ are preparing for a night’s out, while I’ve decided I’d stay in for tonight. I don’t feel like doing a pub crawl – because that’s what they’re going to do. I’ve been on enough pub crawls to know that chances are slim that you’re going to have an amazing time.
This is what happens on most pub crawls: you start with a group of young people who only want to drink their asses off, every bar you enter is empty, so you’re tied to the group you started with and at around midnight, the hosts leave you in some place of which they know it’s going to be crowded, so they don’t have to feel bad of leaving you in an almost empty bar. No gracias, mi amigo.
So I stay in and I let little miss Canada know that I’ll be staying in, and that she’s free to join me if she feels like – I’m trying to be as subtle as I can possibly be here right now.
However, she’s suddenly gone and so are my friends. It would’ve been a lonely night if it wasn’t for the video call I had with some friends I’d met on my solo trip in Sri Lanka. She does eventually return to the hostel. She waves at me and quickly goes around the corner to her dorm room. At this point, I should’ve just given up definitely – but I didn’t.
BECAUSE THE NEXT DAY, we’re suddenly having a really good conversation again. She’s telling me that she’ll be visiting Toledo today, something I wanted to do the minute I came here. She tells me I should be quick if I wanted to join her, because the bus leaves in about an hour. I doubt at first, but decide to go anyway, so I get my ticket. I don’t have to pay for it yet, which would be vital information for later.
“You should totally go if you want to”
We meet at the bus stop somewhere along the road. I text her that I’m there, but she’s nowhere to be found. For a minute, I’m thinking she’d leave me here on my own to go on a bus tour to Toledo. “No she didn’t…”, I’m thinking.
But it gets worse. She eventually does text me and a minute later she shows up, only to tell me: “I’m not really feeling like going to Toledo today, but if I were you I’d definitely go.” She gets up and leaves. I mean, what the actual f*ck, woman? I wasn’t actually pissed off about the fact that I got stood up yet again, but the least you can do, is to please let me know BEFORE I get all the way out here and make a reservation for a tour.
But I feel like I don’t know her well enough to get mad at her and I’m certainly not in a position to do so right now. So five minutes after she leaves, I get up as well and make my walk of shame towards a restaurant near the Templo de Debod.
Getting rid of my blueness at the Templo de Debod
The food is amazing though – it’s the best lunch I’ve had in ages. I text my friends who are all hungover to tell them I didn’t go to Toledo. I told them that if they’d see the Canadian girl, they had to tell her I went anyway, though. But they didn’t encounter her, luckily.
An hour later, I’m hanging out in the park of Templo de Debod, only to see my friends arrive in terrible condition. It took them a lot to even get up before 1 p.m.
Because they’re all hungover and I’m still feeling blue from the entire situation with that girl, we decide to just hang out in the park all day. I feel like an idiot, but my friends were there to pick a brother up when he was down.
There’s just one silver lining to this weird experience: I didn’t have to go through the humiliation of having paid for the trip without actually going to Toledo. It’s the little comforts that get you through these kinds of situations.
Going to Toledo
Finally, I’m pleased to say that the next day, I did go to Toledo with my friends. I was really excited about seeing this place, for it’d been on my list for years now.
Toledo used to be the Spanish capital before Madrid and I’d read about the history of the city; how it’d been one of the most difficult cities to conquer in the past because of the difficult terrain.
It’s also been a hub for blacksmiths for ages: a lot of the swords you see in movies like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones are made here, because the town has the reputation for crafting great quality swords.
But what really makes Toledo a great place to visit, is the small streets you can get lost in. It sometimes resembles a labyrinth and you can still feel the history here that parts of Madrid have lost over the years – It’s nothing personal, Madrid, but Toledo’s historic centre has just been preserved a little better, in my opinion.
Meeting new friends
A couple of days later, we’d meet some cool people from Australia, Argentina and New Zealand and all those weird vibes got away. I eventually talk with one of the Kiwis and she’s got the same thing going on: beautiful and funny. And she’s way cooler anyway, so all is good. Me and her would eventually meet again in Amsterdam and also in Utrecht later that month – but that’s something for another time.
So what do we learn from all this? I guess that whenever life gives you lemons, you seek out a nice restaurant and get yourself a fantastic lunch, because screw lemons – although they’re pretty tasty and can really make a dish sometimes.