Alex had an early flight and I too had to be out early at the hostel. It was only at this moment that a 2 o’clock bus was a bad idea if I had to be out of my hostel at 10. What to do for 4 hrs?
Should’ve taken the noon bus…
I stowed my bags and set off walking round the neighborhood.
I spied an ATM, knew I’d need some € for Andorra as I wasn’t sure if my card would work as it isn’t in the EU or UK.
I stick my card in but when it comes time to take it, the machine merely teases me, a hair less than I can grasp is all that it will release.
I panic and try to get a hold with my fingernails, nope.
Please take your card more quickly the screen flashes, my card is comically out of my grasp, the machine seems to be mocking me.
Beeps stop and my card is sucked into the machine, no cash, no card. My mind races now as I’m very far away from my bank and have no set address in which to ship a new card… pop quiz hotshot, what do you do?
Literally worst case scenario: no card, no cash, hours away from paid bus ride to another country. Oh panic and anxiety, my friends have returned!
I sit down, ok I should try to get my card back first, I don’t think the ATM destroys cards, it probably dumps them in a bin to be retrieved later somehow.
The machine is attached to bank so it’s got to be theirs so they can get my card.
I enter the most secure bank I’ve ever stepped inside: press button, doors open to another set of doors and another button. Wait, doors behind you close, then the front doors open and you walk into the bank.
I explain in Spanish my situation to teller. She points me to office with a guy talking with another woman.
We walk over and she says roughly translated ‘we’ve got another one with ATM card eaten.’ So yes two people within a few minutes of each other’s cards have been taken by this machine!
‘Mañana,’ he says to me.
I explain in Spanish I’m about to hop on a bus. He looks at me, ‘English, yes? We will hold your card here, just come back anytime during bank hours, 9-2.’
Problem 1 solved, I just had to come back to this bank in Barcelona.
Problem 2 get cash, a lot more places than you’d think are cash only.
I’m still a little shell-shocked so I sit for a while and let my new reality set in. No sense freaking out, that doesn’t get your card back faster, you have to wait, the situation is out of your control now.
I walk back to the hostel to get my bags which has my other ATM card hidden away.
I’d planned on losing a card but I figured it would be due to a pickpocket, robbery as all the websites I read indicated Europe wasn’t safe. No mention about shitty card eating ATMs.
The difference between cards is the one eaten refunded fees which saves a lot of money accessing cash in many countries.
I decided to call it a day and just wait for my bus at the station. There were ATMs there so I’d be ok for the 2 days in Andorra.
Waiting for a bus, train, or plane is the worst thing about traveling and I still don’t have a good coping option other than listening to music and pacing. Plenty of sitting time ahead I reckon.
I was seated near a large what I presumed was a church youth group, they played I spy game loudly, pointed nearly every type of car and all were just a bit too I don’t know, vanilla? Gosh and golly look at that were uttered repeatedly is the only case I have for church group, maybe they were just super nice folks? Is that possible?
One guy in the back kept losing a small soccer ball. Someone near the middle would roll it back until it really got rolling. A sudden brake caused the ball to spin towards the front, near the driver who held it.
The road to Andorra is very scenic, passing old stone houses, cathedrals and lakes.
Holy crap there is a huge concrete dam! Out in the middle of nowhere too, just a long river, bam, large concrete dam, then a small lake. No cities near any of these.
Slowly small farms, a couple of buildings and houses appear as we close in on the city.
It’s a very strange layout as the city likely extends for miles along the highway alternating homes, businesses and shops but we do not stop.
The town narrows between two mountains and a river to one side. Dark foreboding clouds appear on cue as we pull into the bus station.
Ah yes of course no internet signal here, have to find wi-fi to locate directions to my apt.
Well well well, McDonald’s my nemesis, there you are yet again what with your shitty food but free wi-fi. Finally you are good for something.
Raindrops keep falling on my head, they keep falling…
Literally 5 minutes away I’m at my apt and see my host waving to me from a window above the door to building.
He knows little English, I know no Catalonian, which he says he speaks. We work out a combo English, Spanish, pointing as he shows me around his place.
Rain pelts the windows, not going anywhere for a while.
He has a very playful, curious cat that paws and bats anything hanging on my bags. He even climbs into a drawer I opened and I watch him paw at a pamphlet one page at a time.
His cuteness has worn out when he does the most cat thing and bats at my arm as I type. It’s like seriously cats, you were just entertaining yourself but now when I look away that’s when you want my attention ? Outside he goes.
My host leaves so I lay down for a moment and think about how far I’ve traveled, all I’ve seen, how fortunate I am.
I rise after a bit reflection I head out in search of food.
Haha Andorra Donner it is, wasn’t sure about cuisine here, it’s between Spain and France. This sounded better than pizza, fast food or Starbucks, which are all I see around the apt.
I spied a corner bar on the way so I pop in for a pint after dinner.
I’m one of maybe 4 people in the bar, a couple is finishing eating what looks like sausages, another is talking and drinking coffee.
This bar closes very early, round 10, so I located a rock bar close by my apt.
There is no cell signal in Andorra, only wi-fi can you connect to maps or get info.
I am one of 2 people in the rock bar and of course the bartender speaks no English so I point to Warsteiner, oddly a very German draft beer, and he pours.
‘American?’ He asks and give me a thumbs up. ‘Van Halen! Aerosmith! I love!’
On one side of the bar is a screen and he is projecting music videos directly from YouTube right at comfortably loud level. It could probably be lower but it’s not so loud you cannot think.
I tell him I love those bands too. Then a Black Sabbath video comes on so I give him two thumbs up, ‘Esta bien, mucho gusto!’
The rest of the evening, I’m treated to an all too familiar, classic 80s videos I grew up watching. Twisted Sister, Ratt, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Billy Idol are all represented and somehow even though he indicated I can pick a selection, all of these come up via random playlist and I likely would have chosen them anyway.
These videos were a big part of my life in the early to mid 80s during the time I learned about Andorra and declared that I’d go there one day.
After a few beers and many videos I wave goodbye to my new rock friend.
I fall asleep with a big smile on my face: 20+ year promised fulfilled!
Song: Billy Idol Rebel Yell