Sunday, May 29, 2011

Madrid: Big City, Small World!

My time in Madrid this week has been wonderful! Well, except maybe the past two days, but I'll get to that later. First of all, there is SO much more to do in Madrid than there is in Malaga. After being in Madrid, I can't believe I survived in Malaga for a whole week! The only thing that Malaga has going for it is the beach. Madrid is a much more happening place with so much more to do and see. It's a great place to meet new people... and run into people that you already know!

After getting 2 hours of sleep on my 7 hour overnight bus ride, I arrived in Madrid completely exhausted. I found my hostel without any problems and luckily, there was a bed ready for me that early in the morning! I grabbed some breakfast, quickly emailed my mom to tell her that I made it, and went up to my room. I fell asleep instantly and slept literally all afternoon. When I woke up at 5pm, there was one more person in the 5 person room. His name was Brian, originally from San Francisco, and he had studied abroad this semester as well... in Berlin, Germany. We talked for a while about the plaes we've seen in Europe and our plans for Madrid, and I mentioned that a girl from my last hoste (Tatiyanna) had studied abroad in Madrid and gave me a list of her favorite places to eat and neat things to see. I shared the list with Brian and then we decided to go try one of the tapas bars together for dinner. The name of the place: El Tigre. The tapas: unbelievably cheap AND delicious. It was this little hole-in-the-wall place that was packed full of locals. It had no seats... just counters where you could stand and eat your free tapas. Each drink we got was under 2 euro and with each drink, we received a huge plate of various tapas!

On Tuesday, I spent most of the day shopping. Souvenir shopping, that is. I bought so many souvenirs and gifts for friends and family, that by the end of the day, I had a huge shopping bag full of just souvenirs that I carried around with me separately. The sad part about this... this morning I put all of my stuff (except for my purse) in the luggage storage room in my hostel while I went to the market. During the two hours which I was gone, somebody had taken my big bag of souvenirs and my tennis shoes? Don't ask me why they would take my tennis shoes... they smell. And why would they choose my bag of souvenirs over my laptop? Not to mention my book! I had about two or three chapters left of this amazing book that my friend let me borrow, and they took that, too. It's a little upsetting knowing that I won't get to bring back gifts for friends and family though. I hope everyone is happy with Spanish pennies and Kinder Bueno bars. Sorry, guys. I also realized that I lost my iTouch yesterday. I'm not doing so hot lately.

Our tour guide talking about the protests
On Wednesday, Brian and I took a free walking tour that he found online. The walking tour also included a bunch of other hostels in the area so there were a lot of people there. As we were standing around waiting for it to begin, I looked over and saw a girl with blond hair who looked extremely familiar. Then I thought, she kind of looks like Annika (from Malaga) and then when I saw Zach standing next to her, I knew it was them. I told Brian I'd be back and I made my way around 50 other tourists to say hi. We had no idea that we were both going to be in Madrid at the same time, and to see somewhat of a familiar face was exciting!

Our Argentinian tour guide walked us around the city of Madrid for three hours. We saw famous sites such as the palace, Cibeles, Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, Gran Via, the museums, and Puerta del Sol where all of the protests are. Brian and I went back to our hostel where he went to take a siesta and I was going to check my email/facebook.

Signs from the protests in Puerta del Sol

Maren spilling the Tinto in the boat!
Earlier that morning, I had seen another girl who looked really familiar at breakfast. I thought she looked like someone who goes to ISU, a friend of a friend that I met about a year ago. Her name is Maren and we've hung out a couple of times before, but aren't really close and I hadn't talked to her in a while so I didn't say anything. Plus I thought there's no way it was her... how crazy would it be for us to be in the same city, let alone the same hostel? There are hundreds of hostels in Madrid. So instead, I sent her a message on Facebook earlier and when I went to check my email/facebook when Brian went to take a siesta, she responded and said that she WAS in Madrid. To make a long story short, she was in Spain with another friend from ISU (Kristen) and they were visiting one of her childhood friends who is studying in Barcelona. They were leaving the next day, but they kindly invited me to go rowboating with them at Retiro Park. Maren had also done the same Caceres program two years ago and had recommended it to me. We had a fun time rowing on the lake while drinking some Tinto de Verano. It was great seeing some Iowa Staters!

Retiro Park with the rowboats!

Cutting the sandwiches with a pocket knife?
Later that night, Brian and I went to Euromania at 100 Montaditos (another place that Tatiyanna recommended.) Everything on Wednesdays is only a euro! It was so busy inside, that the doorman wouldn't let anyone else in for another 20 minutes or so. We finally got our turn and got the 6 sandwich platter. We both wanted to try them all, so we were going to split all the sandwiches in half. This didn't work too well because either the ham was tough to break, the sandwiches were too messy, etc. So Brian asked me if I thought it would be weird if he were to split them in half with his pocket knife. At first I thougth he was joking, so I just laughed... but nope, he was serious. He took out his pocked knife and started cutting the rest of the sandwiches. That's not sketchy, right?

When we got back to the hostel, we were going to watch a movie on Brian's computer, but there were people sleeping in his room so we were going to try my room. When we walked into my room, we found 75ish year old man asleep in his bed wearing nothing but his underwear. It wouldn't have been so weird if he wasn't sprawled out everwhere and was at least wearing boxers or something. Brian and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh as we shut the door and left. I kind of wanted to take a picture... you know, to spice up my blog or something, but I couldn't bring myself to do it... it felt wrong on so many levels.

On Friday, it rained all day so I read a good chunk of my book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (yeah, the same one that got stolen.) Then I spent time with a couple of new roommates from Germany. They had a rule that since they were in Spain, they would talk in Spanish, even though they knew like 5 other languages, including English. (Jealous!) I liked this rule so we sat and talked for a couple hours all in Spanish! It was weird since I hadn't spoken Spanish that much since I've left Caceres, so it was a little difficult to get back into the swing of it.

This morning, I went to the big market which was really neat to see. It was really crowded though and then it started to rain, so I headed back to my hostel. I spent probably an hour going through the luggage room making sure my stuff wasn't there, and now here I am writiing one of my last blogs! My family leaves Iowa in just a few hours and hopefully by this time tomorrow, I will be with my mom, Paige, and Kaicer!

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