Confessions: Oh, No She Madridn’t!

Solo travel has its ups and downs.

Ups: You can do whatever you want. Go wherever you want.

Downs: You can do whatever you want. Go wherever you want.

I have a lot of  travel stories and most of the memorable ones, I haven’t even shared. Moments where I actually learned lessons and met the most interesting people. I admit, some of these stories are better left unsaid and definitely not shared with Mom and Dad!


From Ibiza, I flew back to Madrid to catch the overnight train to Portugal. Why didn’t I just fly to Lisbon? I don’t know. I wanted to experience the overnight train and make use of my rail pass since I paid a fortune for it. What’s the fun of the easy way out? I would hate that decision eventually but looking back now, I’m glad I did!

My plans ended in Ibiza and so everything then on was literally a last-minute decision. I’ve never done that kind of thing so I reveled at the fact that I can live in the moment and be adventurous.

My delayed flight put me in Madrid late at night and I barely made it to the airport’s Renfe office which was closing in five minutes. In overnight trips like the Trenhotel, you have to make a reservation even though you have a rail pass. But in Spain in general, even for a thirty-minute trip to Toledo requires a reservation. Since I was carpe diem-ing and didn’t plan ahead, the only available seat left  was for the next day. The woman literally said, “Wow, you just made the last seat for tomorrow. The next available train to Portugal is in two days.”


Feeling proud of myself, I took the train to Chamartin Station which put me closer to downtown Madrid where I can just book a hotel for the night. Well, that was too easy. A lot of the cafes were already closed and so I walked around Madrid at midnight dragging my luggage looking for a cafe with free wifi. It was downtown Madrid! How can establishments close before midnight?! To be fair, it was a Wednesday.

I finally found a small pub that was still open and the barkeep and his friend gave me a disgruntled look in between their discussion. I ordered my café con leche and spent the next hour or so looking for a hotel but apparently, everybody decided to stay in Madrid that night.  How could there be NO available rooms downtown?!

I was then told that the place will be closing in a few minutes so I found myself walking aimlessly at two in the morning with my dying phone. I decided to head back to the train station. I figured it was a better place to be in, you know, like at the airport where you can stay the night and wait for your red-eye flight. Safely.

Of course as soon as I stepped out from the pub, the whole area shut down and like a scene from Walking Dead, looked abandoned with not a taxi in sight! What the hell?!

With my phone’s last 5% battery to spare, I called a taxi. It took me three tries to reach the right line and a few misused Spanish words and wrong grammar to get my point across.

So I finally got to Chamartin, only to find out they shut the place down for two hours and reopens at 4:30 am. Dios mio.

So I found myself standing outside the train station at 3 am.

Yes, yes I did.




Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.