Trip Start Sep 19, 2006
9Trip End Oct 06, 2006
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So, here I am, this goofy white guy, obviously a tourist, this massive backpack and this stupid papermap that doesn't mean a god damned thing to me, and the first thing I think is, being an American optimist and all, "this can't possibly get any worse." Then it starts to rain...and it keeps raining harder and harder. Finally, it's 11:45, I'm starving, I'm soaking wet, I'm miserable, I'm wishing to be back in Lyon and it's only been a handful of days...that was my first experience in Spain. Joyous, no?
Madrid is actually a cool city, full of life and I mean that quite literally. I came to France with a bunch of crazy stories, picked up a few more in France...and they were all blown away by the sheer insanity and stupidity of some of my actions in Madrid. Yet, I regret nothing I did in this city, and I picked up a slew of memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The city itself is undergoing a facelift (as is the rest of the country) with a brand new Metro system and bike paths and things of that nature
I saw some cool cultural things in Madrid, the most impressive of which was irrefutably the Prada Museum. In it is the *premiere* display of Spanish artwork (meh, don't know much about Spanish art work to be completely honest), which is an incredible display and collection of talent and beauty. The real wonder of my experience actually took place in the northerner section...completely by surprise I bumped into three things that all appeared on either my Art History midterm or final exam. The Garden of Earthly Delights (which is absolutely amazing in person), Descent from the Cross, and a painting by Van Eyke...all his insane details and all. I stood in these three rooms for nearly 2 hours I reckon, absolutely amazed that these very things I had seen via projector, in books, and movies were actually directly in front of me...it really brought the idea to life, that they aren't just cultural icons, but real paintings that exist and, maybe quite obviously, were painted by a person at one point in time
Welcome to the craziest night of, not that I will be able to do it justice through words alone. I went out with my first Hostel friend, a Maltese guy named Bert. I didn't even know what Malta was, and asked him if it had something to do with the Maltese Falcon...good ol American ignorance I suppose, but at least good for a laugh. This guy had dated and hooked up with chicks from at least 15 different countries, and we shared a great conversation talking about all our experiences, good and bad alike. We went to a bar, where we met two helpful Spaniards. They gave us the lowdown on the Spanish and Madridish nightlife, as well as suggestions for several bars. We weren't paying too much attention, however, because of the absolutely *stunnning* Spanish chick serving us beer. I mean this girl was amazing...beautiful dazzling every word I can think of and more. After throwing down 5 beers a piece, and getting charged for only half that, we were ready to start our night.
We went to meet Bert's two other Maltese friends, a guy I know only as "M" and his girlfriend Jessica. Watching the three reunited as a trip in itself. The Maltese language is so fast, and is such a fluid combination of so many different types of sounds...and they really are truly exotic looking people. Wild too, as the Maltese night life is a great deal similar to the Spanish nightlife, or so they told me.
We spent the next three or four hours bar hopping, drinking heavily, and talking about life. We touched on cultural stereotypes, international politics, dick politicians (Bush), and compared each other's social lives and normal routines. It was exhilarating; this was my first experience with another culture. And the more drunk we got, the deeper we went. At long last, nearing the hour of 4 AM, the bars started closing. You'd never guess the hour, based upon how many people were in the streets...nor would you guess a police entity existed in this country, as the scene was complete chaos. People peeing everywhere, everyone drinking and smoking, prostitutes running rampant, Chinese entrepreneurs selling beer at vastly inflated prices...and people eagerly paying for it. The world felt like a dream, and for some unknown reason, I felt no danger of any kind.
Then, my newly adopted Maltese brethren decided they wanted to smoke, the substance of their desires I shall not post here. Needless to say, we spent the next three hours adventuring through the slums and mazes of Madrid, looking for one such entrepreneur. Hammered to the point of oblivion, I remember only vaguely what occurred during this time. They have an amazing effect, fatigue and alcohol, when combined...though I dare so it is very hard on one's system
At long last, we found what we were looking for. We retreated to one of the public plazas, as did nearly everyone else, to partake in the spoils of our plunder, and enjoy what was left of the morning. I saw my first Spanish sunrise in a public square, smoking and drinking with my Maltese friends and this random group of Portuguese whom we met in our travels. The cultural seminar, and the language exchange, that took place that morning was quite simply amazing. I learned some Portugese, Italian, Maltese, and Spanish, while teaching English and French in return. If I hadn't been as tired as I was, I would have been sad at it's end. I enjoyed my two hours of sleep, before having to leave the hostel, immensely. My night was incredible.