Reconnaisance mission

Madrid Travel Blog

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My 12 day recce of Madrid has passed, and I'm back in England for a couple of weeks before moving out there. The London pre-trip holiday lasted longer than anticipated. I got back to Coventry late on the night before the trip and got round to packing at 3am. Quick sleep until 5am, then up and to the airport.

Ryanair, East Mids - Madrid, no problem. After a little walk around the airport I found the Madrid Metro, and headed into town. The clear signs, and fast trains quickly brought me to my destination: La Latina, in the heart of Madrid. Big travel bag over my shoulder I could feel the heat before I reached the street at the top of the stairs. I could hear fast jazz music being played live, and upon reaching the surface and taking a moment to adjust to the sunshine, I was there.

..in Madrid, for the 1st time, my home for the next year.

I saw the band playing music on the street just a few metres away, and decided to sit down on the street next to some Spanish skater-looking types doing the same. My legs wanted a rest. Within moments I was chatting with the group by my side. And seconds later one of them said "you want drogs?". Haha, less than a minute in the city. I politely refused then after a few minutes chilling, found the appartment where I had arranged a room for the 12 days. A minute after entering, the guy offered me a joint, so...why not? I went for lunch with him and his girlfriend and already had good vibes about the place. The narrow streets crammed with appartments, the graffiti, the people of all ages just standing in clusters on the street chatting.

During the days I spent most of my time exploring the city and sunbathing in the Retiro park (and sleeping). I had job interviews to arrange and attend, plus a place to live to find.

The nights were simply incredible. There was some sort of street party/concert/fiesta almost every single night I was there. Right by where i was livingas well. These fiestas apparently happen every August in the neighbourhood, so my timing was just right. They were incredible...so many people, bars on the street, music being blasted out of nightclub-strength loudspeakers 'till gone 3am, food stalls, games, and this Wednesday there were fireworks to top it off. The atmosphere was all about fun, happiness and friendliness. There were old people dancing in traditional costumes and little children no older than 4 or 5, out on the streets in the early hours of the morning! None of this would ever happen in England.

Rastro market from my bedroom balcony
I felt almost gutted that I'd only just now discovered these wonderful events, but nonetheless thrilled to be there. Talk about a culture shock. I loved it. I did wonder how anybody ever got to work the next day though, not only the people parting, but also the people living nearby. Luckily I had no such worries...

apart from on Wednesday. There was plenty of premiership and Champions league football on so I though, why not head to one of the Irish bars and watch one of the games, have a couple of beers, then a nice early night to be ready for the job interview the follwing morning. Ok, so it was happy hour (which lasts a lot longer than 1 hour), and I didn't see any reason not to take the free shot that came with the Heineken. I managed to even refuse a shot later and was still on track by the time I headed home.

I only went out to watch a bit of football
But the fiesta was just kicking off, so I decided to have a little wander around, for cultural reasons of course. Several beers and god knows what else later I had made a load of friends, watched a big fireworks show, aquired a cowboy hat and even had some yellow decorations of some sort draped around myself. At 5.30 am I staggered home, set 2 alarm clocks, and miraculously got to the interview yesterday (Thursday) morning, via a large Starbucks coffee. Amazingly the interview went fine, and I was offered the job (I think still being intoxicated helped the rapport building process).

During my 12 days I learned a load of Spanish from a starting level of nothing, I found a room to move back to in September in an awesome part of town (by Sol metro, with 2 Irish bars directly opposite), got several job offers to teach English, and a tan :))))) Sweet!!!

I nearly came unstuck at the end though, when I realised my flight back to England was due to depart at 6.

there was an entire neighbourhood of streets like this!
20 am, meaning I needed to be there for about 5 am-ish, meaning that - because I couldn't really splash out on a taxi - I had to get one of the last metros from the night before, and wait 6 hours at the airport!! "The on-time airline"...yeah, on-time at 20 past six in the bastard morning. haha. Got about an hours sleep on the floor of the airport, along with several other who were obviously in the same position. However, when we did eventually take-off, despite being very tired from now 2 nights of little/no sleep, I saw what was probably the most breath-taking view I've ever seen in my life: As the plane climbed through a gap in the clouds I looked out the window - down below, the city roads marked by the amber streetlights in the blackness of night, and a golden horizon in the distance changing colours from gold to sky-blue as I looked up, and in between these two different images a layer of cotton wool clouds seen side-on.
It was beautiful. Day and night seen at the same time with the softest of clouds as a border between the two. I would have even turned my phone on to capture a photo, but it was in the storage compartments above. But to se it was well worth 5 hours lying on a solid-concrete floor waiting for check-in to open :)

So now the plan is...move back at the start of September, start work, learn Spanish, have an amazing time. I'm sure I will beacuse Madrid is a fantastic city!!!

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Rastro market from my bedroom balc…
Rastro market from my bedroom bal…
I only went out to watch a bit of …
I only went out to watch a bit of…
there was an entire neighbourhood …
there was an entire neighbourhood…
fiesta
fiesta
Spanish bingo from a trailor
Spanish bingo from a trailor
Madrid airport restaurant in Depar…
Madrid airport restaurant in Depa…
stumbled across a huge open-air co…
stumbled across a huge open-air c…
from balcony - rastro market
from balcony - rastro market
El rastro...BIG market
El rastro...BIG market
The locals must have heard I was c…
The locals must have heard I was …
Sounds familiar (to English people…
Sounds familiar (to English peopl…
The local 11-a-side team, guess I…
The local 11-a-side team, guess I…
During a fiesta
During a fiesta
In the Retiro park
In the Retiro park
In the Retiro
In the Retiro
Retiro park
Retiro park
Such a cool park
Such a cool park
Retiro
Retiro
A fancy roundabout
A fancy roundabout
Tough work in the hoeat of summer.…
Tough work in the hoeat of summer…
1,346 km (836 miles) traveled
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Madrid
photo by: vulindlela