I mentioned in a previous post that this trip to Spain was built over the course of years of saving “points and miles,” meaning our flight and 95% of our hotels were paid for through credit card, travel and hotel points. I’m still pretty pleased and Mr. Os impressed that i hoarded enough points to make this happen.
But, traveling on miles has a few drawbacks, and if you’re new to the concept these are important to know. In addition to blackout days and other restrictions, when you have points with one hotel chain you basically have to stay where their hotels are located. This can vary from “not in the neighborhood I wanted to be in,” to “outside where we are travelling,” to “nothing in that city.”
Other times, like when we checked into the Hilton Airport Madrid, they are out in the boondocks—the “nose bleed seats” as it were. To be clear, the hotel name does say “airport” and we were clear about the location when we made our reservation. We were willing to roll the dice because the hotel, according to their website, offered a free shuttle into Madrid.
Upon check-in, the woman at the front desk clarified that the shuttle only runs in the morning, at three specific times, takes only 10 passengers, and you must make a reservation beginning at 7:00 a.m. morning of the day you want to travel. Oh, and if you miss the shuttle it costs about 30 euro (that’s $40 before tip, at least $80/day round trip).). This really bummed me out and i don’t take setbacks well on travel. I was really disappointed and this was NOT how i wanted to start our vacation.
So, here comes the lesson. Sure, follow up with questions on key elements that relate to a hotel’s location. But more importantly, there’s a bigger lesson when you’re traveling on points and miles, and in general. Learn to roll with it. “Get right with it,” as Mr. Os would say. In our case, after about a half hour of colorfully worded grumbling, we decided to check out the immediate area, which became part of our unique vacation adventure. And, we quickly learned that there is actually a most excellent, affordable, intuitive, safe and clean public transit system that saved our hotel. (I will also say that the service was in all other ways outstanding at the hotel, and Mr. Os said it was the best equipped and run gym of any he visited.)
The hidden gem (if you can call it that) that we discovered walking around the neighborhood of our hotel was a massive mall. I’d never been to a mall in Europe, and it was fascinating to see how it was identical to American malls, and yet how it was also completely foreign. After a walking around the mall, and a couple gin and tonics (that’s the big drink in Spain at the moment), it was agreed we would try Kiss ur Feet. Okay, agreed, not a uniquely Spanish experience, but I couldn’t talk Mr. Os out of it.
In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, Kiss Ur Feet is one of those spa places where the little fish eat the dead skin off your feet. I’ve never been interested in this, the idea of fish eating dead skin always seemed… totally messed up. But, as I said, Mr. Os was adamant this is what i needed to turn my frown upside down.”It would make a great blog…imagine, fish kissing your feet! Fishy kisses!” But somehow it sounded much more persuasive when he said it, than when I transcribed his aquatic vision.
So, what’s it like when these toothless fish descend on your feet like the dinner bell just wrang? To start with, the attendant sprays your feet and wipes them off with a paper towel, thankfully—because dead skin is one thing, but there are some gnarly feet out there—how awful if suddenly fish started floating on the water? Once your feet have been sprayed and wiped dry into the tank you go!
It feels…strange. The fish know what’s coming and swarm. But though they act like piranha, the action is very gentle, Like little pulses of electricity all over your feet. And there is an occasional tickle that makes you want to jerk your knee up. Kind of like when your childhood doctor used to hit your knee during a physical. If you spread out your toes, it’s even weirder. Well, according to Mr. Os, because I can’t spread my toes out that far, although one poor fish still managed to wedge itself in between them and tickle the bejeezus out of me.
The treatment was 10 euro for 15 minutes; not terrible for a random adventure. And, the phrase ‘fishy kisses’ has a totally different meaning for me now.
As we left, a woman talked her parents into getting the treatment with her. She made a comment about the Kardashian clan that i refuse to repeat on principal but then her Dad stuck his feet in tank and said, “come. eat, eat.” That alone was the worth the 10 euro, but I’ll also say that both of us agreed our feet were noticeably softer than before.
(Author’s note: all things considered, the hotel was quite good and we’d there go again. i was just taken aback with the shuttle policy. Once we discovered a Metro close by, we were in great shape. In a future post, i will share my thoughts on all the places we stayed throughout Spain.)