Five and a half hours across the Atlantic, Brad and I landed in London in early January for our two and a half week trip. We stayed in London for only one night, until our flight the following day to Alicante, Spain. In our exhausted, jet-lagged state, the staff at the Tophams Hotel took pity on us, and managed to have our room ready within an hour of our arrival. The hotel was just a ten minute walk from Buckingham Palace, so we made the most of our evening by taking a stroll there and then grabbing dinner at a local pub. I stuffed my face with a delicious steak and ale pie, which reminded me of all the English food I had been missing since I last visited Britain years ago.
The next day, we set off for Alicante, where I finally got to see my close friend, Fibby, for the first time in four years. She picked us up from the airport and we made the hour long journey from Alicante airport to Denia - a small coastal city that serves as the closest port to Ibiza. It was dark when we landed, so we made the drive back in total darkness - unfortunately unable to see the Spanish mountains that lined the highway.
But the next morning, Denia revealed itself to us, and I can easily say that I would be quite happy to live there. It's not a city by any American standards, which suited me just fine. And after leaving frigid New England temperatures, this Mediterranean coastal wonder quickly came to feel like paradise.
But travel doesn't always go smoothly and according to plan. Our second morning in Spain, that concept became glaringly clear to me. We woke up around noon (as people tend to do in Spain), and I slipped into Fibby's room to say good morning. She lay on the bed with her two dogs - Mia, a Pitbull/Lab mix, and Poncho, a Bernese Mountain Dog. And here, I made an error in judgment. I got on the bed and crawled towards Fibby to sit next to her.
I don't remember Poncho lunging at me, I just remember laying on my back a few seconds later, my hand grasping my face. He had attacked me, and bitten my face. Fibby rushed around the apartment, dealing with the dogs and frantically preparing to take me to the hospital, while Brad tried to keep me conscious. I vaguely remember sitting on the bed, with blood all over my hands. I was more scared than I had ever been in my entire life. We were turned away by a public Spanish hospital, and my nightmare only seemed to grow darker. But they then took me to a private hospital, where I was finally treated. Nobody spoke much in the way of English, so Fibby did most of the communicating. I picked up bits and pieces of what was going on, but felt largely like a terrified foreigner in a foreign world.
Luckily, the damage was minimal - there were a few puncture holes in my cheek, and the right side of my mouth had been ripped open about a third of an inch. I had four or five stitches in total - I wasn't keeping count as the Spanish-speaking doctors stuck needles into my face in various spots. The right side of my face was covered by bandages for several days afterwards, so I never actually got to see the damage until almost a week later, when I finally took the bandages off.
Needless to say, this wasn't the kind of hiccup that we were expecting on our trip. I spent a few days resting, with a swollen face, an angry tetanus shot, and a whole bunch of antibiotics and pain medication. The shock of what had happened had me severely rattled for a few days. But we slowly started to venture out again - Fibby took us to a little restaurant on the water, and we gorged ourself on tapas. We drove over a mountain with dangerously narrow and winding roads to see the neighboring seacoast city of Javea. My love for the Spanish seacoast had not been shaken by the incident, and the Mediterranean climate, as always, served as a breath of fresh air.
We stayed in Spain longer than we had intended to, so I could return to the hospital a few days later to get my sutures checked. And then, after I was cleared to fly, we set off for Scotland.