More than just a big city
Madrid is a city. A big city. That is what everyone said when I asked them about it.
They are not wrong. However, most of them failed to mention just how beautiful it is. Statuesque buildings, magnificent parks, numerous fountains and statues at every turn, and loads to see and do.
And it was my first hostel experience - absolutely wonderful. I stayed in the Cat's Hostel - chosen not only for it's name, but also for it's affordability (I am a backpacker, after all). It was brilliant! I stayed in a dorm of 12 beds, but that really didn't matter. A bed is a bed, all you need it for is sleep. Time in the hostel was spent socialising in the common room, the bar area and the Cat's cave (downstairs pub).
Time outside of the hostel was spent with various other travellers who I relished in blaming for our getting lost - again and again.
I met so many people! It was wonderful! The only problem was trying to remember everyone's name.
The first day I toured the area with two American guys, both studying architecture - which was great because I didn't miss any of the important buildings.
Honestly, I am quite terrible. Every city I arrive in, I know nothing about. The main attractions, the best museums, parks, etc. - I know nothing. So I definitely have been fortunate in the people I meet.
The following morning after a delicious bowl of cereal - no one really seems to understand just how much I love cereal and how rarely I get it while travelling - I joined the free hostel walking tour and ended up with a huge bunch of Americans.
Go to Madrid. Meet more Americans than Spanish. They weren't even together!
Anyway, we saw loads. The palace and the changing of the guards. The cathedral. Numerous other breath-taking buildings whose names I can't recall. Plazas. Parks. Protests in the main square. And more. I even managed to wade through a fountain to get to an Egyptian monument.
Later on, the Americans and I ended up scouring the area for a supermercados to buy some stuff for lunch. Needless to say, we couldn't find a single one of the thousands we'd seen earlier. Eventually we ended up going to a tiny corner shop and found everything we needed - wine, sangria, bread and stuff to go on the bread.
We then sat in one of the many stunning parks and had a picnic on the grass.
Then there was the Museo de Prado (free entry on Wednesday's between 18:00 and 20:00) with amazing artwork and statues - one in particular which stood out: a marble statue of a woman wearing a veil. I would never have thought it possible to carve something transparent, but this artist (Camillo Torreggiani) did so.
And then, as if the day hadn't been awesome enough, I decided to do a pub crawl. Really good fun. More because of the people I did it with than because it was anything all that amazing. I still can't dance, but I sure did have fun stomping on the toes of the guys I danced with. :D
I even ended up ditching my shoes. Not because of the alcohol consumption, but because one of them broke and I needed new ones anyway.
Somehow (I just followed an American guy) I managed to make it back to the hostel, where I went straight to sleep - no doubt dreaming of the bowl of cereal awaiting me in the morning.
on June 1, 2011
from the travel blog:
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