You would think I would have learned by now, but nope. I still think it’s a good idea to do my packing a mere hour before I am supposed to leave. Not smart, but I got it done which is the main point. At the University of Limerick, our classes finish after week 12. Then, they give us an entire week for “study week” before the two weeks of finals we have. Or in my case, they gave me an entire week to travel, so thanks UL. The first stop of the week was to Madrid. Mal and I took a cab to the bus station at 2:30am. When we were booking flights, we thought a morning flight would be great cuz then we would have the whole day to sightsee. We didn’t think about the part where we would have to take the bus in the middle of the night to make it to the airport with enough time to catch our plane. I should have been able to sleep the entire bus ride and then the entire plane ride so I would be refreshed and ready to hit the streets of Madrid. Well, the bus didn’t have heat so I was shivering the entire time. And then the plane was too uncomfortable to sleep in. The plane ride from Dublin to Madrid was 2 hours but Madrid is an hour ahead so we landed at noon. Fortunately, Mal knows someone who lives in Madrid (Laura pronounced Lawda) so she was able to pick us up at the airport. As we were walking to the subway, Mal saw a sign for Dunkin Donuts so we had to make a detour to get food. This is where I attempted my Spanish skills. Let’s just say they need work. Laura did the ordering and talking for us the rest of the trip! After donuts, Laura lead us through the subway and bus systems. We were also lucky enough to stay in the same building as Laura. She lives with nuns. Yes, I did say nuns. A group of nuns run the building. It was 27 euro a night but I got my own room with my own bathroom and the nuns provided all 3 meals of the day. So it was quite the steal. By the time we checked in, I was exhausted. I had been up for about 28 hours without sleep. But Spaniards don’t eat at the same time as I’m used to. Lunch is at 2:30 and dinner is at 9:30. I’m not one to skip a meal, so we went down to lunch where they served us potato and bean soup, chicken, and chilies. Delicious! I also got to meet some of Laura’s friends. With introductions in Spain, you give the person a kiss on each cheek because handshakes are for meeting the parents. After lunch, Mal and I went to our rooms and then took a nap. It ended up being a little longer than needed but it was refreshing. We got ready and then headed out to do some shopping and sightseeing. We went to the Plaza de Espana where the Don Quixote statue was. The main shopping district was nearby and since we are 3 girls, of course we went shopping. Madrid has a lot of stores where they sell really affordable clothing. I felt underdressed in my leggings and sweatshirt since every girl was wearing boots, dresses, scarves, sweaters, etc. They were all very fashion forward compared to me. We went into an H & M store that used to be a movie theater. There were chandeliers hanging everywhere and the store had 3 floors in it. It was heaven on earth to me. I ended up buying a coat for the rare days that I actually dress up and it was only 30 euro! Mal and Laura were talking about going out clubbing later that night so we went and grabbed some Burger King since we missed dinner. If you haven’t noticed, in almost every city that I go to, I somehow end up at a Burger King to either get food or use their bathroom. Once we gobbled up our food, we went back to our place so the girls could get ready. I had a headache from lack of sleep, so I stayed back. And I’m glad I did. They didn’t leave until 12:30 and they didn’t get home until 4:30am. Oofda:)
In the morning, we all slept in and then got some toast, milk, and cookies from the nuns for breakfast. Eating cookies for breakfast in Spain is perfectly acceptable and actually encouraged. Uh, yes please! Once I ate enough cookies, we got ready and went out to do some more shopping and then sightseeing. After window shopping at a mall, we got lunch which consisted of mini sandwiches. I had a ham and cheese (the Spain are known for their ham), a chicken and pineapple, and then an omelet one which was just potato and cheese. After lunch, we walked to the Royal Palace and the Sabatini Gardens that surrounded it. We also saw the Plaza de Oriente and the Plaza de la Armeria. There were a ton of street performers in the squares. The coolest one was two marionette dolls that were dancing and singing. We then went to an indoor market that was jam packed full of people. People were standing everywhere eating and drinking but no one was bothered by the lack of personal space besides me. Only one thing could distract me from having no bubble and that is food. I got churros and hot chocolate. You dip the churro in the hot chocolate and after I gobbled up the churros, I was able to drink the rest of the good stuff. I was a little depressed it didn’t have mini marshmallows though. After our snacks, we walked to another square which had the biggest lit tree I have ever seen. Not a typical Christmas tree, but it was solely made out of lights. I also stood on the exact center of Spain where all roads lead from. There was also this statue of a bear clawing at a tree which is supposed to have some significance, but none of us knew what it was. Our last stop of the day was to see the Bank of Spain, the Metropolis building, and the main post office building which does not look like any types of post office I have ever seen. It looks like a cathedral. I was most excited to see the Metropolis building because I have been watching the show Smallville lately and Metropolis is actually a city in that show. It also made me think of my older brother because he just got new glasses and he is styling his hair a different way so it makes him look like Clark Kent haha! After we took pictures, we hopped on the subway and went home. We just hung out with Laura and chatted until we all got tired. In the morning, Mal and I packed up our stuff and somehow managed to follow Laura’s directions to the airport without getting lost once. I pat myself on the back for that one.
I definitely like Madrid, but if I was to ever go back to Spain, I would go to Barcelona so I could lay on the beach and burn to a crisp:)