A Rendezvous/ Bon Voyage from Madrid

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We arrived in Madrid after our massive day of travel from Marseille and took the metro to our hostel. The hostel was really nice-- clean and on a lovely pedestrian street in the very center of Madrid with a fabulous view from the window of our dorm. There were tons of nice people to socialize with, but we were very tired. In addition, Adrienne and I managed to pick up head colds somewhere along the way, and we were very congested and feeling pretty horrible. Apparently, the Spanish eat dinner very late, so we decided to take power naps before going out for food. Not surprisingly, we all woke up around 1 AM and decided to just go back to sleep for the night. 
We woke up early the next morning to have breakfast and say goodbye to Chris. Bon voyage back to California! And best of luck with the impending move to Cleveland... After Chris left, Adrienne and I spent the morning relaxing in the hostel then walked to the Parque del Buen Retiro. It was a really pretty park with plenty of interesting people watching. Then we spent a few hours in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. They didn't allow pictures, but Adrienne got a few winners using her little point-and-shoot camera. 
After the museum, we went to a little bar called Cuerva del Gato for some sangria and tapas. The bartender was really nice and spent a while explaining the menu in really slow Spanish so we could understand how the tapas worked. He brought us complementary bread and local sausage, then told us to order the Tortilla Espanola and the Jamon Iberico. The tortilla was really delicious-- egg-based with potatoes and tons of cheese all cooked as a sort of quiche. The Jamon Iberico was basically toasted bread with butter, cheese, and cured ham. Not exactly low calorie... but fabulous! And the sangria was really good too. 
We went back to the hostel so I could skype with my mom and cousin while Adrienne took a nap. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out with other travellers in the hostel and planning the next few weeks of our trip. We are visiting a number of friends in the coming weeks, and the timing (luckily) worked out perfectly with everyone's work/life schedules! 
The next morning (Friday 6-10), we woke up early to check Jeremy's flight status before going to airport. Good thing we checked-- it was delayed 4 hours due to bad weather on the East coast of the US! So... we went shopping! Turns out that the pedestrian street our hostel is on is also a nice shopping district... how convenient! I bought a cute little flowery skirt and Adrienne bought a fun summer dress. The bathroom in the store was pretty interesting. At first, I thought there was no toilet seat, but I found three seats in the corner of the bathroom! So I stuck it back on for them... the toilets in Spain have not been very impressive so far. OH WELL.
At around 12:30, we took the metro to the airport to meet Jeremy. The guidebook said the ride only took 12 minutes, but that was a horrible lie. It took about 45 minutes to get there by metro, then another 20 minutes to walk all the way across Madrid Barajas airport to get to the arrivals area for Jeremy's gate. Good thing we left with plenty of time! Turns out that it took Jeremy forever to get his bags and go through immigration, so we were there excessively early. But he finally appeared, horray! Another successful rendezvous achieved! On the way back to the hostel, we stopped at one of the big train stations to make reservations on a ton of trains. We succeeded brilliantly-- speaking Spanish has definitely been a huge asset. So now we have reservations on high speed trains from Madrid to Sevilla to Granada, then a night train to Valencia, another high speed train to Barcelona, and a night train to Geneva in Switzerland! Very exciting.
Back at the hostel, Jeremy freshened up and settled in while Adrienne and I made a ton of hostel reservations in Spain and a few in Germany. So we are set until we reach Holland on June 21st! Jeremy came to Europe bearing many gifts from the US: Adrienne's new camera lens, a UV cover for my camera lens, some heels for me, a sleeping mat for sleeping of people's floors in the coming weeks, laundry detergent, etc.  So Adrienne's fancy camera is back in business, and I have a fun new toy for mine that protects the lens and helps soften the pictures taken in super bright daylight! 
The three of us went to the Palacio Real to take some pictures of the outside of the palace. There were a few nice fountains in the square that we hung out by and watched some Spanish teenagers do tricks on their skateboards. Then we went inside the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena, which was right across from the palace. The inside was much more festive and less somber than the other churches we have seen, and they had some nice carvings on the doors. We took a ton of pictures before picking up a bottle of wine and heading back to the hostel to make dinner. Adrienne and I had planned to cook pasta with vegetables the night before but we went to sleep instead, so we made it with Jeremy! It was pretty delicious, I must stay. Especially since all we had was pre-made ravioli, tomato, onion, zucchini, butter, salt, and pepper. 
After dinner, we got dressed in our new clothes to go out and experience some of Madrid's legendary nightlife! We didn't really know where to go or how any of the drink specials worked, so we allowed ourselves to be lured into a bar by a bouncer promising free drinks. We met two hilarious girls at the bar-- Amanda from Malta and Georgia from Italy. They explained that one drink is free at each bar before 11, then you theoretically have to pay for all drinks after that. The girls seemed to have a pretty good system-- get free drinks at a bar then immediately go to the next bar and get more free drinks. We decided to follow them around because Georgia spoke fluent Spanish and was a free-drink-snagging champion. She would negotiate with every bouncer until they finally gave in. We went to probably 8 bars  (some of them twice) and didn't pay for a single drink.  Plus, they took Jeremy to get some delicious cheesy croissant snack for one Euro! Thankfully, the drinks were pretty weak-- drinking that many drinks in the US would be a recipe for disaster. We found some girls from our hostel dorm room in one of the bars and shared some of our excess drinks with them, then danced around for a few hours.  Madrid plays hilarious music in the bars-- they play American rap/hip hop music with Latin beats mixed in. AND everyone knows all the words to every single song! The bathrooms were also pretty horrible in the bars, which we expected. No soap, no toilet paper, no toilet seats... charming. We went home a little after 1 AM because Jeremy was totally exhausted after not sleeping for multiple days, but the rest of Madrid seemed to just be getting started. When we woke up at 8 AM to eat breakfast, there were still people running around the streets screaming and singing! Insane.
After breakfast, we took the metro back to the train station to catch the high speed AVE train to Sevilla. It only took 2.5 hours to get all the way to the far South of Spain, and the views out the window were really beautiful and different. We will post again from Sevilla in a few days. Hasta luego!
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Mom on

Madrid is a beautiful city. I love the architectural elements everywhere...on fountains, buildings, churches, streets! So glad you met-up with Jeremy with no mishaps. And really glad Adrienne's camera is back in action for your last month of travel. Fun blog, fun photos, fun times. Like the the new clothes, too.

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