You may have heard some disconcerting stories about the Valencian underground: delays, reduced services, untoward methods against heavy rain featuring conspicuously placed buckets…
The truth of the matter is that metrovalencia leaves a lot to be desired when compared to its sister system in Madrid and paints even less of a pretty picture in comparison to the ever-efficient London tube. In Valencia you often find yourself stood waiting, desperately staring up at the boards, with the only things making an appearance being more and more people piling into the station while the “expected time” depressingly jumps back a few minutes every time you dare to glance up again.
In fact, the system is deemed so bad that there are two whole Twitter accounts, Metrovalenshit and METRO ENFURECIDO, dedicated to exposing the shortcomings of the Valencian underground. Top marks on your portmanteau skills there, guys.
But it’s only when you manage to get on a metro that the fun actually starts. Now, I’ve got the most experience with Line 1, the yellow line which spans from Villanueva de Castellón (Mordor) and Lliria (Never Never Land) due to my commute to L’Eliana. Most of Line 1’s stations are actually ground level “baixadors” meaning that a lovely woman on the tannoy reminds you every 2 minutes that the train won’t stop automatically and that you have to ring the bell to get off. What they don’t tell you is that some idiot will continue to ring the bleeding thing despite being underneath the actual city where the metro stops at every station anyway. But I digress. Because of these baixadors, it’s very easy for people to travel for free once the metro leaves the city and security becomes more lax. This paves the way for my first Line 1 idiot…
The Indignado does not fear the metro inspector. Instead, he will try to feign blissful ignorance, argue to the death about “the ticket machine being broken” or downright refuse to pay the fine and the fare and then rant and rave about it so loudly that the rest of the carriage can hear. “Es que esto es UN PUTO ESCÁNDALO etc”
Never will he cough up the €2 journey fare. He’d rather try and jump off the metro at the next available opportunity while flipping the bird at the inspector as we pull out of the station.
Sweary Cat Woman is a small, older lady who wears a fleece and a backpack. Her nickname comes from the fact that she has quite a feline face and, well… she’s got a dirty potty mouth. My favourite encounter involved her swinging from one of the handrails as the metro braked, prompting her to scream “¡HOSTIA PUTAAA! ¡QUE ME CAIGO!” in the alarmed faces of various commuters. Thanks for brightening up my day, Sweary Cat Woman, and for the love of God, try not to fall.
That lairy behaviour brings me nicely to the third metro character, The Loud Chypsy (That’s a chav, a gypsy, or a chav-gypsy hybrid). One particular occurrence that sticks in my mind is when a gaggle of Chypsies, fleet of children under wing, were literally laughing in the faces of a (albeit, quite bizarre looking) couple who were canoodling in the middle of the aisle. Alright, no-one wants to see a small 70 year old man and his giant 30 year old girlfriend cuddle, kiss, and slap each other’s arses in the middle of a packed metro, but then again neither do you want it made 10 times worse by a group of self-righteous chonis cackling about it, shouting rude comments and filming it on their mobile phones.
Leading on from the subject of light voyeurism brings us to The Mobile Phone Prick. The MPP often takes selfies while posing in a nonchalant manner and gazing out of the metro window. Likely Instagram caption: “Here I am, going home from another hard day’s work, deeply contemplating some woodland outside of Paterna”. I recently caught the MPP in the act. He knew it, I knew it. He’d forgotten to take the shutter sound off the camera and alerted the whole carriage to his narcissistic antics. We locked eyes. I scowled. I can only assume that his next act was done in pure revenge: he loudly flicked through the whole repertoire of ringtones on his phone until I got off at Àngel Guimerà.
Speaking of. Have you ever had to change trains during rush hour at Àngel Guimerà?
Commuters, bewildered tourists and thrillseekers heave onto the metro only to be packed in there as tight as a packet of Mercadona boquerones. More and more people desperately hurl themselves down the steps and try and cram themselves in while the driver furiously honks his obscenely loud horn and subsequently deafens everyone in the tunnel (yes, metros have horns! *rolls eyes and tuts*).
Metro users at Àngel Guimerà
I’ll leave you now with my final metro idiot – someone that literally makes you think you smell: The Fidget Arse. The FA is forever on the look out for a better seat – and the further away from you, the better. If he sees an opportunity, he takes it. This even means moving one seat away from you so as not to have to breath the same disgusting air that you breath or risk grazing past your coat. It doesn’t matter if moving away from you entails moving closer to the door on a cold day, or even the full bin, anything is better than sitting next to you. What is it with Spanish people that makes them HATE sitting next to someone on public transport?
So, if you’re happy to catch the metro after taking into account all of the above, by all means, you buy your expensive travel card and hop on board. Choose your travel companion carefully, dodge travel inspectors wisely and just watch out if it rains; you’ll either encounter a soggy scene like in the photo above or be stranded on the platform at Empalme alongside half of the CEU because all the northern lines have been flooded. Happy metro-ing!
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