After a seven hour sleepless flight I finally arrived in Madrid! I would like to mention that for the previous THREE flights I’ve taken alone, I’ve been asked to switch seats with someone because I’m sitting next to their girlfriend or wife… this time was no exception. I also specifically choose an aisle seat because I make frequent bathroom trips. However, for this trip it was a blessing. I ended up sitting next to a couple who lived in Madrid around the general area I was headed. When we landed they told me they’d help me figure out what metro to take and meet me at the baggage area. They ended up doing a lot more. They let me take a taxi with them to their apartment (30 euro), directed me to and waited for me to catch the right bus and gave me the 1.50 euro fare. I am extremely grateful for the kindness they showed to me; it was because of the kindness and help they received from New Yorkers. After the bus, I spent a good 20 minutes walking around trying to find the hostel. When I did it was with great relief. I probably arrived at the hostel around 11 exhausted and sleep deprived, but planned on doing an 1145 walking tour of Madrid they offered.
By the time we met up with other hostels and got ready to go it was around 1245. Our tour guide was an exuberant Argentinian fellow who has lived in Madrid for the past 9 years and has conducted tours for the past 7 (the Spanish unemployment rate is 26%) We traveled west of puerta de sol and learned about: one of Madrid’s most famous landmarks, a small statue of a bear eating fruit from a tree which ferments while still on it(basically a bear getting drunk); how hot chocolate and churros are eaten for breakfast or drunk food and it’s part in recent Spanish culture; Spanish history from the 15th century onward and how the royal palace has changed over that time, it also hosts the worlds largest collection of medieval armor and Stradivarius violins; we saw the plaza mayor which bears very little significance now, but helped Spain come out of the Black Plague because of the division and storage of meats and grains. There were other things as we’ll but I don’t remember them all. Overall it was a great experience and we’ll worth it because I was able to become slightly more comfortable in a city I just arrived in. It ended around 330, I walked around a little bit and then went back to the hostel. Up to this point I was trying not to sleep and fight the jet lag so that I could fall asleep at a normal time. It was too much. I ended up napping for an hour from 340-440. Even after this nap I was extremely tired and didn’t think I’d be able to make it until 9 (At 915 the hostel was doing a trip to an authentic all you can eat tapas place for 10 euro). After my nap I went up to the lounge area to read for a little bit, but ended up hanging with this Australian dude I had met early and his friend. We chatted and hung out for about 2 hours. I learned about Australian politics and their disdain for certain Australian political figures. After, departed and got ready for the night. We left the hostel at 915 and met up with 2 or 3 other hostels which brought our total to 89 people. Arrived to the tapas place around 945 and ate and drank for like 40-50min. For an authentic tapas experience the food was alright. There was a bar crawl thing after, but a bunch of us decided to go to a bar where we drank and spent the rest of the night. I ended up staying out until 2 a far cry from my initial plans.