Being the type of person who embraces rain more easily than sunshine, I hummed in a noncommittal way when I saw the gray clouds upon opening my eyes this morning. I convinced myself to emerge from the covers and called downstairs to see if I could keep my room for one more night, fairly certain that the fully booked status would prevent me from doing so. I decided sleeping on a cot in a friend's room wouldn't be so bad while I was on hold, but found myself gushing with gratitude when she said, in her wonderful accent, that it was no problem for me to stay where I was.
I looked around my room fondly and decided that luck had gone my way this trip - I made flights, found my way around and ended up with a room for my whole stay when I'd only reserved two nights. Deciding to tempt fate a bit more, I dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast before leaving the hotel, plucking an umbrella from the stand on my way out, and moving steadily toward the nearest metro stop.
Confused about which stop was which, I missed the one I wanted and was crushed for a moment before deciding I'd simply get off on the next one and begin to ramble in the middle instead of on one end. Given that, it made no difference that I headed in the opposite direction of the one I planned. I grinned when I reached the sea, unsurprised that my sense of direction had failed yet again. Tucking the camera in my pocket and holding the umbrella out of the way, I peered into stands at postcards and blinked with a sense of gentle awe at the places and people on the rain-drenched path.
Poking my head around a tour group, I saw the market off to the side of my street and recalled that my guidebook, located helpfully back in my hotel room, recommended wandering through. I crossed the street and politely closed my umbrella before moving inside the open-air space to smile at the candy and coo over the freshest of fruits. The fish made me wrinkle my nose, but I found the meats oddly artistic, hanging neatly while vegetables provided a colorful background. Skirting the groups and wishing I was hungry enough for a beautifully-packaged container of fruit, I sighed and recrossed the street to continue my walk. I would try to convince myself I was hungry again upon seeing a sign for churros and chocolate. But my mouth lost to my stomach after a bitter internal debate that left me looking longingly over my shoulder at the cafe instead of going inside.
Barely resisting a caress to the petals, I paused to admire flowers at the stands, pausing to take photos and wishing I was staying longer so I could bring some to my room. Instead, I paused to look at a large map and crossed my fingers that heading that way would take me to the cathedral, emerging from a charming alleyway with no small amount of surprise when I beheld the bell tower. I followed a smattering of people up a slick incline and hesitated before descending a few steps into the cathedral structure. Feeling reverent - both blessed to look up at arches in the flicker of candlelight and guilty as the plaintive cries from the old woman outside reached my ears. I understood only por favor and added my own plea for her silently.
I walked through more narrow streets, pausing to look at jewelry or cock my head at shoes before realizing with amazement that I had returned to my metro stop. (Upside-down-! and !) After selecting postcards and magnets, I slipped the plastic bag over my wrist, resettled myself under my umbrella and descended the stairs to the subway again, camera memory full, pleasantly tired and satisfied with my quiet, solitary excursion.