We went to Spain a couple of weeks ago, just a quick 2 days in Madrid. Not going to lie, it was kind of a so-so city. But I expected that—everybody says to go to Barcelona and skip Madrid. But it was awesome to see SLU kids!
It was the first time in months I’d seen anybody that I’d actually known before we left home. It was great to hear about their experiences abroad, too, as they live with host families.
Our bus to Dublin was at 1:45 a.m. That was brutal. Our flight was at 7:45 a.m. Wouldn’t have been as brutal had it not been snowing and had the French air traffic controllers not decided to strike. Therefore we had a solid two-hour delay.
Once in Madrid, the trek to Plaza del Sol, which was near our hostel, was rather tedious on the Metro, but the train system was fairly straightforward which is more than you can say for most places (ahem, London). But the hostel was awesome (first place I’ve been to with free computers with internet) and near Sol, which is a nighttime hotspot for meeting up.
After Annie and mono had a nap, we set out to explore the city and meet up with Lindsay and Adrienne, my two girlfriends from SLU. The schedule is so strange in Spain! Everything would open late in the morning, not really get going until around 10. Then things would shut down in the afternoon, between 4 and 6, and they wouldn’t pick up again until much, much later.
We met the girls for dinner around 9:30. And apparently people wouldn’t start going out until 2 a.m., which is when the youngings would go home and the clubs opened up to the above-18 crowd (that’s what time clubs close in Galway!). The part that would really not sit well with me is how the Metro closed down at 2 a.m. Therefore, people would stay out until 6 a.m. when the Metro opened back up again. No wonder they sleep so late!
We went to bed early that night and woke up Friday pretty early for the complimentary breakfast. The city was still pretty sleepy when we got to walking around. We went to Plaza Mayor (it’s got nothing on Brussels) and then headed toward the palace. The line was too long and it was too expensive to go inside the palace, but we went in the cathedral and climbed to the top of the dome. The views it afforded of the city were awesome.
On the way home we got groceries to make dinner and drinks. It was so cheap! We had dinner for about 3 euro each (in Galway it would be about 6-8 each). Then we met the girls again in the Parque del Retiro. It was gorgeous, but probably even better in the summer.
We went and had lunch (at 4 p.m.) at a little place that had great empanadas (I don’t know how to define said dish, but mine were stuffed with spinach and cheese). And, once again, after a nap, we had dinner at 9:30 p.m. in the hostel kitchen. It was difficult, my Spanish language skills not really all that attuned to kitchen vocabulary. But it turned out alright (it’s hard to mess up pasta too badly).
It was weird meeting the girls at Sol at 2 a.m., when I would usually be making my way toward my warm, comfy bed. We were going to a club called Kapital. It was rather expensive (they’re free in Galway) but amazing nonetheless. It was 7 stories with a different type of music played on each floor.
One thing that struck me here was the female fashion in Madrid. In Galway, we American girls are always the most modestly dressed. So I’ve learned to wear fewer sleeves and packed my roommate’s strapless black dress accordingly. All the girls in Madrid wore jeans and button-downs. I was by far the most scantily-clad girl there! That is certainly something that has never happened to me before.
Of course, we were the lame people who had to leave early. It was raining on our walk home, which was actually really fun. I liked yelling, “No hablo espanol!” when annoying forward Spanish men would catcall at us. One guy laughed and yelled back, “Si, hablas-” but we had an early flight and I was not having small talk.
Random side notes: 1) Where bikes were popular in Belgium, motorbikes were everywhere in Spain. Mary Kate would have loved it—crotchrockets everywhere! 2) The Spanish accent is really funny, that Spanish lisp that makes “gracias” into “grathias.” 3) I’m glad I’m not living with a host family, but with some young moral-less Irish lads instead.