I finally arrived in Madrid on Saturday morning around 10am here. This means that my body thought it was about 4am, and it responded that way. It was sunny, but cold – in the 40s. My first “real” interaction with a non-ISA affiliated spaniard was with a security guard at the Airport – where I had lost my filled out customs form. I wanted to ask him if I could get another one, but what I actually said come out like gibberish. He looked at me blankly until I rephrased myself and he understood me. And then he told me it was completely unnecessary. bahhhh
SO then we left the airport and went to the hotel where we checked in and then had free time until our meeting that evening. I met my roommate, Ryan, yes – it’s a girl – and we hung out/wandered around downtown Madrid with my friend, Gray – (yay another grover!) for a little bit to avoid sleeping. We eventually met up with some other people for lunch around 4ish and found a little place and got paella.
In Spain, life is very different. We get up early and eat a small breakfast – tea/toast/fruit/juice – and then in mid-morning have a little “picar” which is like a snack to keep us going until lunch which is usually around 2ish. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, and most everything closes in the early afternoon for it. Then everything re-opens in the evening, and we eat a small meal around 8ish or later. Then nightlife begins around 11ish and can last until 6am. (Yes, it’s insane.)
So that’s taken some getting used to.
But anyway. We had our paella and the waiter told me “tu hablas muy bien” which made me feel better after the customs debacle. haha We had our meeting and then we went to bed early.
I slept like a rock but still I woke up feeling like I had never slept. Probably because my body thought it was still 2am. The bright side is that breakfast in the hotel in Madrid was like heaven. I have never tasted orange juice sooo amazing or had such fresh fruit and delicious bread. Then we toured El Prado museum – but it was so depressing because we only spent about una hora en el museo and only saw obras (works) de El Greco, Goya y Velasquez. I already was very familiar with many of the paintings (thank you civ arts & dr. munson!) so I understood most everything the guide was saying because it was in Spanish. I nearly fell asleep on my feet in the museum, and wanted to go and take a nap after, but I ended up going out shopping and we had to walk to El Palacio Real for a tour at 3, so I’m glad I didn’t sleep. We toured El Palacio – the palace of many deceased kings and queens of Spain – and then found a place for Very Late Lunch after. Which was HARD because it was Sunday and so many places were closed. I wasn’t extremely hungry so I settled for a soup that was chicken broth, ham (I know, I know… I hate pork.) and rice.
We returned to the hotel and decided to go out for dessert that night. Which turned into me getting chocolate con churros – which was fun because I had not had them yet – but also not exactly what I was after. Oh well. Madrid is a huuuuge city, and apart from it’s gorgeous fountains and beautiful architecture, it still kind of reminds me of something similar to New York. It just didn’t have the Spanish personality I was waiting for.
We left Madrid early and went to Toledo. Toledo is a BEAUTIFUL, old city an hour south of Spain. It’s the original capital of Spain, and the streets are mostly cobblestone and winding and cramped. All the buildings are pretty and and I looooved Toledo. We took a 3 hour walking tour – which felt like nothing because our tour guide was so wonderful. And then we took a break for lunch, a few of us broke off and ate at El Trebol, right off La Plaza Zocodover (say platha thocodovehr). I really enjoyed it. Then we went back to the hotel around 3 and stayed there until our meeting at 7 which took almost 3 HOURS. Then a few of us decided to take a taxi back into the Plaza in Toledo for “nightlife”. Oh wait. It’s Monday. We got there and it was COMPLETELY DESERTED. It was 10pm and literally nothing was open. After wandering around for a little bit, we found some other people from ISA and we all went back to El Trebol because it was the only place open! This time I got a bocadillo de atun which was sooo good. Americans- I’m telling you – we don’t do tuna sandwiches right. At all. We decided to go back to the Cathedral of Toledo and see the lights they put up. Well. No one was there, and the lights were not on. So at that point we called a taxi and went back to the hotel and went to bed.
And now today is Tuesday and I’m in Malaga! But more about that later. :)