An Excercise in Spanish, and Mexican Food in Spain

Madrid Travel Blog

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The sun came out for me!

I arrived at the Chamartin station in Madrid about 9:30 and after pulling out my netbook to copy directions to the hostel onto actual paper, I headed down to the metro station, thinking that I really should get in the habit of writing this down the night before to avoid the trouble. I'm slowly learning the ways of a traveler-I've found that even though I've lived in London for four months and traveled from that base, it's a totally different story when you're going everywhere by yourself and moving to a different city every other day. Each small hastle I come out of with a smile though, with the satisfaction of knowing that I can actually do this.

There are about 4 floors in that station, and when asking for directions I found that my rusty conversational Spanish skills had me a bit confused as a kind lady explained to me that I needed to go quatro caminos then change to another line.

Ah the lines of architecture
Now, I remember that caminos means streets or roads but since this wasn't in the directions I had originally been given, or in big clear writing on the map, I thought she might be telling me to go four stops then change. Nope. There's actually a station called Quatro Caminos, which I realized once I'd boarded the metro. Lesson #2 for the day: Don't assume that the directions given to you are correct, and check a complete map before becoming confused.

Turns out that I found my way to the hostel after figuring out that the directions on hostelworld.com didn't actually make any sense. I contemplated offering to fix this on the site for the owner of the hostel, but my first impression of the owner quickly chased this inclination out of my mind. The sight had also had instructions to ring 2D after going through a black gate, then someone would come downstairs to get you.

So I rang. 'Bulls' was all I heard on the other end.

'Um, estoy aqui para mi reservacion,' I reply. To no answer. I waited about 3 minutes for someone to come down. No one did. Oh bother.

I rang again, this time trying to change my wording a bit, thinking that maybe I had said something wrong. 'Just come in. Second floor, 2D.' He sounded impatient, and I was suddenly worried about my stay-had he missed the memo that he was supposed to send someone down to get me? By this time it was raining, and I suddenly realized that since I'd been woken up on the train just moments before we got to the station, I had forgotten to grab my raincoat out of the overhead in my haste to reattach my daypack (containing all my valuables that I keep at my feet, along with my camera bag) to my big 'ol pack in time to leave the train.

Scary man on stilts
I promise this is the only thing I'll lose I tell myself. It was only 9:45 and I was already on lesson #3: if you decide to sleep on a train, don't leave anything loose out of your packs.

After dropping off my bags, I was on a mission to find cover and something rather touristy, as Madrid was only a one day stop for me. Solution? The fantastic Madrid Vision, a double-decker tourist bus that, for a whopping 17 Euros, takes you on two routes of the city-one historical, and one for the more modern, cosmopolitan part of the city. I decided to brave the top of the bus, though I was freezing, as I couldn't turn down the view. Soon enough though, the clouds began to clear and I smiled. This is going to be a good day after all!

After checking in at 1:30 (which I realized was actually 2:30-lesson #4: check to make sure you aren't crossing into a different time zone before you travel if your phone doesn't automatically change the time for you) I decided I needed to take the historical route again to take pictures in the sun and stop off that the famous PLaza Mayor, which definitely didn't dissapoint.

Everyone seemed to be happy and relaxed, and I suddenly had a longing to be with a friend, or even a hostel buddy, as I watched everyone and their mother's brother snapping pictures together. I quickly squashed this feeling though, as I reminded myself that I would be meeting people later tonight that I'd probably end up going out with.

Several hours later, I'd completed the tour of the more modern part of the city, and it was time to head back before dark. Grabbing a piece of pizza from a small cafe, I held back from coughing. Definitely not used to people smoking inside! So it was eating on the go for me, and I gave myself a mental pat on the back for getting back to the hostel without getting lost. Walking back into my room I was surprised to see several guys passed out on their beds at 7:20 in the afternoon.

Beggar under freeway
The answer came quickly as I started talking to the one American guy who was awake. 'Siestas,' he explained. Of course, gotta rest up for a long night of partying! My room was mainly filled with guys visiting friends who were studying in Madrid, and Brad invited me to come out with them to Mexican restaurant, then out to the clubs, which I eagerly agreed to, though I ended up not eating since I already had, and Tommy and I left around midnight since we were both beat and he insisted that if he had just one more beer, he'd end up having another twenty.

Now, Tommy deserves a bit of an explanation. A ridiculously tall, skinny guy, he had grown up in Hungary, then moved up to Cork, Ireland at the request of his best friend. Just weeks later, his friend bailed on him..

One of the first of hundreds of cathedrals I'll see on this trip
.after he had already given up everything in Hungary for a new country! So he got a job at a print shop and a casino, living life large. Just last week, and two months into his holiday, he got a call. 'You lost your job. Are you happy?' What the heck kind of question is that? Then he got another call. He'd been replaced at his other job as well. What bad luck! So now he's going home next week with 200 Euros to his name.

Best of luck to you, Tommy!

Priya853 says:
I'm gonna do my first solo travelling alone ! Reading your article was really helpful! Thank you :)
Posted on: Feb 01, 2015
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The sun came out for me!
The sun came out for me!
Ah the lines of architecture
Ah the lines of architecture
Scary man on stilts
Scary man on stilts
Beggar under freeway
Beggar under freeway
One of the first of hundreds of ca…
One of the first of hundreds of c…
Madrid
photo by: vulindlela