Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New york, helsinki and madrid...in 3 days

After a last day spent relaxing and exploring the shops and cafes in San Mateo, went through the already familiar ritual of restuffing the bags, said goodbye to Joyce, Doug and Hathaway, and settled in at the airport to wait for my flight.
Flew all the way back across the country and arrived bright and early in new york. With a 10 hour layover, headed into the city for a last day of exploring. Strolled around Times Square and Rockefeller Centre, then on a whim returned to the library (cos what else would a jetlagged nerd do to stay awake in new york). Found a surprisingly fascinating exhibition on the evolution if the new york lunch hour, and then joined the free tour of the library so got to see all the beautiful rooms and hear all about it's history which was really cool. Ducked down to the childrens library because they actually have the original animals that Winnie the Pooh and his friends were based on kept there. Indulged in a little more aimlessly wandering and then back to the airport.
Next stop was Helsinki for another 10 hour stopover so headed to the city to check out Finland. Got dropped at the train station with absolutely no idea what to do or where I was so just started following tram lines on the theory that they might lead somewhere interesting and hey presto, found myself in the historic downtown district. Lots of fancy shops, cobblestone streets (not so good for someone who hasn't slept in 2 days), parks, a waterfront market, cathedrals and lots of pretty boats in the harbour just begging to be hijacked :-) Seems like a really chilled out town. Spent a few hours exploring until exhaustion got the better of me and I returned very gracefully (I had an attack of my public transport induced narcolepsy on the bus...also on the subway in new york, so classy) to the airport.
The last flight got me finally to madrid where I eventually tracked down my hostel with just enough energy left to make my bed and fall into a mini coma.
Struggled awake 10 minutes before the end of breakfast, stored my bags and with my usual disdain for maps or any kind if a plan roamed the streets looking for something familiar. Of course, after so many visits pretty much everything in madrid looks kind of familiar but as always I eventually turned the right corner and found myself on Gran Via which just happened to be where I wanted to be. Had a bit of a stressful morning running around getting some cash flow issues sorted (long story but all worked out fine) which earned me a big slice of cheese cake and a coffee.
Taking an overnight train tonight to Ponferrada to start the Camino.

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