Spain 2- Madrid
Trip Start Jan 14, 2007
49Trip End Jul 05, 2007
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The flight was not eventful. There were lots of Italians on the plane, but by then I was expecting to hear Italian every day. (And, I did.) I arrived in Madrid, then took the metro to a stop 10 minutes from my hostel that night. Madrid has a fantastic metro system. It costs a euro to go anywhere, and the metro goes straight to the airport. I didn't really need to use it though, because I basically walked everywhere.
My stop was at Gran Via Station. I climbed the stairs and came out to one of the main streets of the city, Gran Via. After making a couple of wrong turns, I finally made it the hostel. There was a nice old man who showed me which keys opened which doors.
I had one of my best "meals" on the way to the Prado. I stopped in a dinky shop on a little side street and got a crossaint with meat and cheese in it and a yummy, sticky apple tart. It was great. And on the way an American stopped me. He looked like he was in pretty bad shape. He had a cane and was shaking and scratched up. One of his legs was bandaged. He had a long story about having been in a car crash and going to the hospital and not having any of his documents, etc. etc. And his friends were still in the hospital. Anyway, I was a little sceptical but figured he had to be going through some hard times so I gave him 3 euro. (I know, I know. Maybe I shouldn't have trusted him at all.)
Madrid was pretty amazing just because I didn't pay to see any museums that day. I got into the Prado for free, because I'm an EU citizen studying in an EU country. It's normally 3 euro. It was an overwhelming museum.
Lots and lots of paintings and sculptures in over 50 rooms. I walked through most of the rooms, but could only absorb so much. My favorite paintings were the ones I'd seen pictures of previously, in Spanish classes. The best was Las Meninas by Velasquez, because I'd seen that several times in classes, and had had it explained to me. So, I stared at it in awe for a couple of minutes. There were also some Goya paintings that I'd seen before. But, overall, I didn't spend much time in the museum.
Next, I went to the Parque del Buen Retiro, which was nearby. It had rained while I was in the museum, so the park was a little creepy at first because there was hardly anyone there. But then, I got to the huge lake, and it got better.
These two pictures are funny. I don't know why, but this crane was a lifting a huge vehicle from a platform on the lake and bringing it back to land.
I walked over to the Crystal Palace, which was gorgeous I walked around, taking pictures of it, until I realized I could go in for free!
Next, I got to walk across practically the entire city, because I really wanted to see an Egyptian Temple that was the only one in Spain. On the way, I got to see a lot. I walked up the Gran Via to the Plaza de Espaņa, which was pretty amazing.
While I was in the Piazza, the weather turned decidedly worse and I realized I hadn't put my umbrella in the small bag I had with me. And, I wasn't wearing many layers and the wind was cold. But this was my only day in Madrid, so I decided to ignore the weather for now and just keep going. I walked to the Royal Palace and, on the way saw this building, which I had to take a picture of.
Then I went to another piazza, that had a fountain and several statues.
Of course, I took a picture of the Don Quijote and Sancho statue. My professor who taught a Cervantes class that I took would have been proud.
I finally made it to the Egyptian temple, which was free!
I was almost done for the day! As I was walking back over to Gran Via, a man came up to me, asking if I spoke English. I said I did, and he was very happy. He didn't know where he was, so I let him look at my map to orient himself. I found out that he was from Israel, but had been in Germany for the past few years. He was a theoretical mathematician who had flown into Madrid for a couple of days to participate in an international conference. I told him I was headed to Puerta del Sol, which is the "0" kilometer mark in Spain. The major highways in the country start counting distances from that point. He asked if he could join me, and I said that would be fine. I didn't feel weird about it at all, because it was light out and there were lots of people. Also, he was a theoretical mathematician. I really didn't think he would do anything bad. We walked down Gran Via to Puerta del Sol, where there was no marker or anything that we could see. It was very disappointing. It was still a nice walk though, and it was good to talk to someone for awhile. We parted ways, and I went in search of dinner. I was on the street that my hostel was on, which didn't have much. I ended up going to three little stores and bought a yogurt drink, 4 small yogurts, and a bready thing. It was a pretty awful dinner actually, but I survived.
I ate in my hotel room and then one of the other people who I'd be sharing a room with that night came back. Her name was Stephanie and she was really nice. She had been an au pair in Germany for a couple of months and now was traveling around Europe. She'd been traveling for almost a month and had 15 days to go. She was young, just out of high school. We talked for a long time, until the other two people came back. They were two men from Brazil; a man in his 20's and his father. That was a little weird, but I was glad Stephanie was there. They were both very nice though. The dad didn't speak English, but the son did, so the three of us talked. Then the two guys drank a couple glasses of wine and went out the clubs. Funny.
The woman who helped run the hostel was great. I hadn't brought a towel, so I asked if I could rent one. At most places, it costs about a euro to get a towel for the night, but she just gave me one and apologized that she didn't have a nicer one. She explained that, because of the rain, the other towels were still wet. I thanked her several times, just happy to have a towel.
I went to bed and set my alarm to 8 because I needed to find out how to take a bus to Granada the next morning. I wanted to arrive early because Granada was the one place I hadn't found a room for yet, and I was a little worried.