We arrived in Madrid last Monday after our weekend in Portugal. Since we still had Tuesday left of our Carnaval holiday, we chose to stay the night and explore Madrid the next day. It seemed like a good idea. I wanted to visit Madrid to say that I visited Madrid, but I really didn’t have an interest in spending much time there. Therefore, a day trip seemed like the perfect option while we were there.
Madrid seemed overwhelming at first. We took the metro from the airport and got off near Puerta del Sol. It was already nighttime when we got there, and it was booming. Maybe it was just that I’m used to smaller Valladolid or maybe it was just that I was tired and exhausted after travelling all day, but it seemed like there was an overwhelming amount of people. The plaza was huge compared to Plaza Mayor back home. One of the busiest places in Madrid. Crowds of people passed by on the sidewalk. Relying on our offline maps, we navigated our way to our hostel.
We first stopped at a Dia to buy food for our dinner. Again, there were way too many people in that tiny supermarket. You could barely move without being in someone’s way or without someone being in your way. It was a relief to get out of there and head towards the quiet street of our hostel.
We had a bit of trouble finding where we needed to be. The map said we were there, but the sign had a completely different name. We walked up and down the street looking for something else, but nothing. We finally stopped in a nearby gym to ask the worker for directions. He was super friendly and after a bit of confusion and google searching, he told us that the hostel was where we thought it was. It was just wasn’t on the first floor. That made a lot more sense.
It felt so good to get settled into our hostel. The weekend was an exhausting one, and I was ready for some time to just unwind in my own space. The hostel was a really nice one, almost nicer than the hotel in Lisbon. Kate, Amanda, and I had a room to ourselves. Three beds. A bathroom. All linen included. There was a kitchen for us to take bowls and utensils from as needed, which made it possible to eat the salad, chips, and guacamole that we had bought. Again, it was such a simple meal, but it was just what I needed. I indulged in that salad. I ate the guac like there was no tomorrow.
The following morning was a little confusing. I had plans to meet up with my boyfriend’s mother. She had been visiting Europe for a bit and was currently in Madrid as well. I woke up without a clear time or vision of what we were doing. I didn’t want to leave and try and do something else if she would end up wanting to meet early. But at the same time, I didn’t want to sit around and wait to know more. Leaving the hostel involved trusting that I would find wifi somewhere to keep in contact with her. It seemed like such a silly thing, but everything had to be perfectly orchestrated in my opinion.
I ended up going to the Museo del Prado with Kate and Amanda that morning. There was a line, but it wasn’t too long. I managed to get some wifi from a nearby hotel, and later, I found a cafe within the museum to finalize my plans. The museum was fascinating. There was so much art to see. You’d walk in one room, which would lead to more rooms, which each led to even more. It felt like you were being pulled to see each room, but it was so much to keep track of.
The art itself was breathtaking to see up close. I’m not that into going to museums to look at art, but this museum was impressive. There were so many pieces that looked so vibrant and alive. I remember a couple Christian paintings. They looked 3D. I had to get right up to it to see that it was in fact, just a simple painting. Each piece of art had a story to go with it. What it represented. Why the author painted it. Anything. And I think the stories and meanings were even more fascinating than the piece itself.
After the Museo del Prado, we went our separate ways. I went to meet up with my boyfriend’s mom at a wax museum. It was a really small, kind of cheesy museum. Nothing special, but it was fun to go with her and enjoy her company. She was really excited to see some of the wax figures. As for me, I really didn’t know many of the people. I guess I really am not cultured when it comes time to celebrities in general. I got some pictures with Trump, Obama, and Pope Francis and called it good.
Afterwards, the two of us walked around the area a bit. We passed an Arch, I think the Fernando VII Arch, and took pictures there. It was a pretty little area in the middle of a huge roundabout (or something of the sort). Little yellow flowers decorated the green grass. I thought it was really beautiful. You could look through the spaces of the arch and see the buildings and traffic extending beyond it. It was such a simple thing randomly put in the city, but I liked it.
We then searched for a little coffee shop to sit, enjoy a little something, and chat. I didn’t have too much time before I had to meet up with my friends again to catch our bus, but the time that we did spend together was enjoyable. We ate our treats and drank our cafes con leche over conversations of Spain and psychology and so much more. I love getting to know new people, especially in intimate coffee shop settings. I think Spain will always be my home for that reason. There are so many coffee shops, and they’re just the go-to place for hangouts. Spain gets me.
Soon enough, it was time for us to get going. We found her bus stop, and I had walk the other way to meet up with my friends at Puerta del Sol. I was a little unsure of how to get there directly, and I didn’t have complete confidence in my maps, but I made it work pretty easily. The walk to Puerta del Sol was a lovely one. Again, I got to explore a little bit of the city on my own. I passed some cool buildings, parks, and other city areas that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I enjoyed it. Even though it was easy to go where I needed to be, it felt pretty exhilarating to be in a big city, exploring and navigating on my own.
There were so many people in the plaza. I stood as centrally as possible so that either my friends could find me or I could see them. Sure enough, we reunited and told stories of our days as we navigated the nearby metro station. We had troubles getting the correct tickets, but with the help of some people, we got what we needed and we got where we needed to be. I used my time on the metro to open the gifts from my boyfriend that had been sent with his mother. Some bombones and a lovely little letter. No doubt about it, the highlight of my day.
We arrived at the airport where we were catching our bus to Valladolid. To our pleasant surprise, we reunited with our other friends who were also taking the same bus back. It was so exciting to see everyone after what seemed like forever. I was beginning to feel pretty homesick for my home in Valladolid, and in a way, they were my family. It felt good to see them and share stories of our Carnaval adventures.
The three-hour bus ride home felt kind of long. I drifted in and out of a nap, trying to make the minutes go by faster. I just wanted to be there. I missed home. I missed my host family. I was ready to dump my heavy backpack, eat the homemade veggie burgers that were waiting for us, and enjoy the comforts of my own bed. My weekend was so amazing, but it showed me just how much of a home Valladolid is now, and I couldn’t wait to jump back into that familiarity.
Madrid was beautiful. Again, it’s not at the top of my list of places to visit, but I’m happy I spent a bit of time there. I feel satisfied with what I saw, and the time spent there was plenty. The entire trip familiarized me with transportation in general. Taking the bus between Valladolid and the Madrid airport. Actually navigating the airport. Getting into the city if needed. All of these things will be very valuable for future travel, especially if I’m on my own. In less than a month, I’ll be heading back to Madrid to catch my flight to Uruguay. I am much more confident in my abilities to travel on my own, and honestly, I cannot wait to see what adventures lie in store for me. Madrid treated me well. I can’t wait to experience more of it.