On Memorial Day in the U.S, I sat in the airport waiting for my flight, feeling incredibly stupid for not only mistaking the time of the flight but also for forgetting my adapter AND euros at home. In the end it didn’t really matter (it cost me quite a bit, don’t be like me). At that point, I was stressed out of my mind. My own fault; I packed literally three hours before my flight KNOWING I should have packed two days before.
Do you really expect anything else from me?
I was on my way to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Madrid, Spain (my intended destination for 6 weeks wooooooo). So why Frankfurt first?? WELL I wanted to get the cheapest flight, and I thought:
Heyy, do you know what would be a great idea? Saving 100$! by sitting in an airport for 8+ hours in a country where you don’t speak the language and you can’t check your bags until right before the flight so it’s not like you can go anywhere or sleep or rest your mind and thoughts or anything…. great idea!
When I booked the flight I didn’t know it’d be that bad; oh how young and naive I was two months ago. The first flight was god awful physically, and a bit of a mental strain as I didn’t sleep AT ALL for a good seven hours. I totally had a good reason: I sat next to a Canadian professor of music theory who was going to learn German intensively over the next 8 weeks; who I also instantly clicked with. We sat there drinking wine and enjoyed rambling on about Trump, the environment, the white savior complex, etc.. The conversation cost me my sleep, and therefore my sanity, for the next day and a half until I finally arrived in Madrid at 10:30 pm (22:30). It felt like I had just gone through finals week all over again.
I arrived at the airport and immediately jumped into a taxi after getting my overstuffed duffel bag (not a good choice, why would I pick a bag without wheels!). Again, no sleep to be had there. I chatted with the taxi driver in Spanish for maybe a minute; he insisted on speaking English, which I much appreciated. After nearly 24 hours of travel, I don’t think I was making any sense in English, let alone another language. We chatted about Madrid, the crazy accents across the country, Salamanca (where I’d be studying), and the FOOD. Tapas, paella, jamon, patatas; the stuff of dreams. My stomach yearned for food in the back of the cab after the last four airplane meals.
FINALLY I arrived at my hostel, Sungate One. I could not believe how in the middle of everything I was, right next to Puerta del Sol. I walked up to the door where a couple was sitting smoking. “You need a code, here let me help,” one of them said to me. Up the stairs I went with my big ass bags. It was about 11:30 pm by that time. Promptly upon arriving to the front desk, Christopher, a pretty fine looking guy at the hostel, welcomed me and immediately asked me if I’d like to go out tonight with everyone. “We’re leaving in five minutes, but we will wait for you! It’ll be a good time,” he said with utter confidence. How could I say no? “You can check in tomorrow, it’s no problem at all.” Chris (another chris? dos? yes) showed me to my room. (Btw, both chris’s were really cool. Everyone was just really cool.) I shed my bags and slipped into a cute outfit, fluffed my hair, and ran downstairs.
REMINDER: I hadn’t slept in over a day, nor had I eaten dinner or anything in the past 10 hours.
It seemed the entire hostel was going out, residents and workers (of course not all of them), our chaperones, but also party mates. Walking at night in Madrid is beautiful, even when you’re jet-lagged and slowly losing your sanity. The lot of us, maybe 16 people, made our way to this Irish bar about 8 minutes away. The bouncer came over, grabbed our wrists, and put a stamp on each; reduced drinks courtesy of Sungate One. I couldn’t believe my luck, but not because of the drinks.
You know when you meet people that are like you, and not necessarily similar in appearance but in intentions and values and etc. That happened! I love when that happens. Everyone I was with was SO friendly and actually wanted to talk and meet each other. It felt like home and in that moment, I knew I’d want to stay as long as I could.
So that night I spent a lot of time chatting with Americans from all over the country, Australians with thick but adorable accents (one who was super cute just in case you were wondering), Native Spaniards, Canadians, a Brazilian and a Turkish guy; oh, and this Chilean dude that I genuinely thought was French (still am not convinced, even when he speaks perfect Spanish). The first round of shots was free, and they just kept coming. After an interesting conversation about Brazilian rap and about an hour and a half of drinking, all of us poured out of the pub and ventured to a reggatone club.
All I can say is: what. an. experience.
I listened to a lot of reggatone when I was in Honduras so it wasn’t anything new in that sense. This place was comical, but honestly it was what you made of it. If you wanted to have fun and you like dancing like no one is watching, you’d love it. That’s exactly what I did. I danced with everyone I could, in every way I could. Get a few drinks in me and I’ll do the chicken dance and then fail at twerking in front of everyone; it doesn’t matter. Life’s not long enough to wait to have fun right? And everyone did the same honestly. I didn’t realize it then, but that was one of those nights that made Madrid for me.
I wasn’t thinking that the next morning with my grande resaca (hangover). At least my surroundings were incredibly nice for the price I paid (about 22$ a night). I had my cozy little bed in a room with three other people. Each of us had a locker that also functioned as a nightstand. I dig the minimalist style. Walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth, take a long shower, and see the damage of the previous night. First of all: YESSSS the bathrooms were clean, the shower was actually hot, and the hairdryer worked (even worked well). Already off to a good start. I walked downstairs after getting dressed to have my morning ruined and made at the same time. Secondly: they make free breakfast churros and chocolate, sometimes crepes and pancakes. I overslept and missed them. UGHHHH “It’s fine, I’m fine, Everything is fine.” I was lying, very upset. Chris promised me I’d get it next time. God the people who work there were just so nice. It was alright; I was actually fine this time as I ended up going out to this amazing churro place right around the corner. That’s where my day of sight-seeing began.
“Don’t forget to write your name down for dinner if you want it!” someone yelled after me. Oh third: dinner is free, but it’s so good you’ll want to tip.
Ok, I know you want to know the name of that churro place. It’s called Chocolateria San Gines. HOLY SHIT was it good. Javier, an old friend of mine, and I split two of those beautifully fried desserts, dipping them in this thick melted chocolate for breakfast. *Just so you know, this is normal in Spain. We aren’t rebels (or at least we weren’t being cool kids there). He tried to get me to chug the rest of the chocolate when we were done. I would have gone into a diabetic coma.
The store was around the corner from the Palacio Real de Madrid. Quite a beautiful place to be, with gardens along the side that were small but still beautiful. Right next store is this grand cathedral known in English as the Almudena Cathedral. If everything is gold and extravagant for the most part you know you’re in a cathedral in Spain.
These are some of the most popular places to visit if you come to Madrid because they are not only beautiful, but Have a lot of interesting history behind them. You could definitely take a tour, but I recommend just finding a Spanaird and making them explain everything to you like I did! Haha totally feasible right?These weren’t even my favorite places though, besides Sungate One and churros because duh.
I truly think the best places to see in Madrid are as follows in no particular order because life doesn’t make sense anyway:
- The Templo de Debab – literally an Egyptian temple that was given to Spain as a gift from Egypt, really super cool. You come across it and you’re like what??? Why? How? Oh well,still cool! They built it brick by brick right there!
- Parque del Retiro de Madrid – I laid and took a siesta (a long ass nice nap) here and watched the boats go by on the lake. It was honestly the most relaxed place, a little like a tame Central Park. I would come back to Madrid just to go here again honestly because also, #3 is in this park.
- Palacio de Cristal Madrid – it’s literally a glass palace like structure. Super beautiful and so full of light. When you’re there, it feels like you’re in a movie. Really. Super serious.
- The top floor bar of El Corte Ingles (this popular superstore, right next to Sungate One actually!) – You don’t even have to buy anything or get a drink. Just go! Javier knew that at the top of the store there was this beautiful view of Madrid. I thought I had seen the city, but not until I saw this. I would have really enjoyed some vino right then and there but I’m broke and life isn’t fair.
So those are some of the sights to see and places to be in Madrid. I personally think the best times I have are going out with friends at night, cooking with others, and just taking a walk and getting helado. I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a city like this.
Just do this:
- Get a bed at Sungate One
- Walk around the city
- Get some churros and chocolate, helado, and some delicious ass tapas
- Go to the top of every building you can and enjoy the views
- Make plans for the night and don’t you dare come home before 1 am