A day train through Spain is alone worth the trip to Europe. A mosaic of brown, green, red, and yellow lands sweeps past. Trees (olive?) stand in neat rows. The gray and brown outlines of mountains loom in the distance. A lone house stands in the center of a vast field. Suddenly a town appears, distinguished by a cluster of houses. Then there are more mountains, and we’re right amongst them. There are dips, valleys, and winding paths between the trees. Sometimes we’re up high looking down at the countryside. Other times we’re level with the massive rock walls, or we’re at the foot of a mountain. Here there are trees growing on a steeply angled slope, and it seems like they could reach out and snag us as we pass by. White specks — the homes of the mountain dwellers — dot the mountaintops. We roar through tunnels, ears popping from the sudden change in air pressure, momentarily submerged in darkness. Then we emerge once again into a splash of blue sky and more mountains. These ones are covered in green cotton balls of tree tops. We slice through a mountain, its split sides rising straight up on either side. The green leaves and black bark of the short, stout trees and their black shadows color the yellow grass canvas of these mountains. I glimpse amongst the trees a lonely cow or a grazing horse; a wandering road here or a small lake there.
I arrived in Valencia late in the afternoon and checked in at the Purple Nest Hostel. It was already dark by the time I headed out to explore the town. I spent my last €20 on dinner, and as I peered into my empty wallet, I made a mental note to withdraw some cash later. The meal was worth it. I finally had an authentic Paella dish, a local version called Paella Valenciana. It’s essentially chicken and rice with a Spanish twist. The meal also included a plate of grilled seafood and dessert. For the first time in weeks I felt full. It was a good feeling. Walking back to the hostel I came across a Citibank branch. It was very lucky because that’s my bank, and getting money there means I don’t have to pay foreign transaction fees. I flipped open my wallet and looked for my ATM card. It wasn’t there. That couldn’t be. I searched my whole wallet. Nothing. My ATM card was gone.