Welcome to Madrid! Highlights and photos from my first week July 17th – 23rd

Wow… I’m writing this after writing my activities of the week and now this post is novel-worthy length. I never know if people actually read these posts or not. I do it for fun and so that I remember my crazy adventures! I had to consult with my host as to what I did a few days ago because my memory is not so reliable… hence why I love blogging! I fear that if I don’t record these stories as they happen I’ll end my journey and not clearly remember the shenanigans.

Overall, my first week in Madrid makes it to the top of the list in regards to the amount I have laughed in one week! From sharing stories to funny attempts at communication and comprehension… I’ve had an awesome time so far (ok… aside from the 95+ degree heat that makes me feel like I look like a melted crayon)!

 

Day 92 – July 17 (1) – Thursday

Expenses – 13 Euro (bus and computer fee)

If you read my previous post you know how much this day was filled with idiotic travel mistakes… so the fact that I physically made it to Marid is a miracle in and of itself… but HERE I AM!!! YEAAA! Once my new hosts picked me up from the airport we stopped back at their flat so I could drop off my bag before heading to one of their friend’s house for dinner.

Their flat is located in the Tetuan section of Madrid, about a 10 minute Metro ride from city center. Their cute and sunny two bedroom flat overlooks a park. Lucky for me I have my own room — after being in the hostel for two months I relish in the opportunity to have some privacy! My hosts are Tania, Zaida, and their adorable Yorkie Otto. They are from Seville, Spain but have moved and lived in many places. They moved to Madrid in November but recently stayed in the Czech Republic for one month as Workawayers!! This is their first time hosting someone and their goal is to improve their English. I used Workaway to find the hostel in Tenerife and now this will be my second experience. I recommend you check out the website if you are looking to travel long term (or even just for 2-3 weeks – http://www.workaway.info/).

Once at their friend Inma’s house, I had a great time chatting with everyone and enjoyed a yummy meal of Spanish omlette (tortilla), stuffed cucumbers, salad, and some meats. The dinner was a pre-birthday celebration for Zaida and her sister-in-law’s birthdays. It’s at moments like this where I feel so blessed and happy. To have the opportunity to connect with people from other countries, cultures, and backgrounds is priceless!

 

The view out of my new bedroom window

The view out of my new bedroom window

My new furry friend Otto

My new furry friend Otto

Day 93 – July 18 (2) – Friday

Expenses – 47 Euro (groceries, bus pass, drink, dinner)

Good Morning Madrid! I finally got a peaceful night to sleep and was able to wake up slowly. Zaida and I went to walk Otto around the park in the morning and it was HOT HOT HOT. The weather is Madrid is about 90-98 degrees at this time of year. PHEW! We then went to the market so I could pick up some healthy groceries. After eating way too much bread and potatoes in Tenerife I am focused on eating as clean as I can in Madrid (at least when I’m at the flat!). Part of learning about a culture is eating their dishes so I’m not going to be a total nut about it :-).  Later at night we went to city center for pre-dinner drinks. A word about this drink – we all got sangria (which I love) — what I didn’t expect was it to be an appropriate size for the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man! Photographic evidence:

I wish I had something to scale it... imagine a normal cup and times it by 3!!

I wish I had something to scale it… imagine a normal cup and times it by 3!!

The group of friends we were with were so funny and lively! I laughed so hard SO many times that my guts hurt haha! I learned the importance of when you “CHEERS” someone… you MUST tap the table (or you will have bad sex) and make a circle (or you don’t have an orgasm). In Tenerife they had a rule of sorts too where you had to look at the person in the eyes (or you will have bad sex)… lets just say I’m not going to take my chances so there was a LOT of table tapping and cup circling haha!

Pre-dinner drinks!

Pre-dinner drinks!

My awesome hosts Zaida & Tania (on the right) and their good friend Inma (on the left)

My awesome hosts Zaida & Tania (on the right) and their good friend Inma (on the left)

Happy 30th Birthday Zaida! Welcome to the club :-)

Happy 30th Birthday Zaida! Welcome to the club 🙂

The dinner reservations were at 10pm at a Mexican place (The Spanish typically eat dinner LATE)! Mexican food in Spain?? OOOOOK lets see about this. After living in Southern Cali with all its incredible Mexican food I can be a bit picky about it. I must say though that the food was incredible! So delish! I also tried this spicy beer drink called a micheleda (a corona with some spices – Tabasco, soy sauce, and some other sauce).  As we were getting ready to go I had to finish my drink so I was egged on to chug the rest – of course I obliged! As it was going down it made my eyes tear up. Then we chanted for everyone else to finish their spicy drink — which left most of us sitting there with watery eyes and stinging mouths. Add in that we were loudly singing Happy Birthday multiple times – it was quite the scene!

After diner we walked around trying to find a good club. We came across this bustling square where loads of people were sitting around on the street drinking! People with plastic bags or backpacks strolled about offering beer for 1 Euro. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!! It was nutso!

We eventually got snatched up by a promoter and ended up in a discoteka called The Palace – where entry was free and the first drink for ladies was on the house – SCORE (and this drinks wasn’t some measly drink… the waiter made the drinks at the table and I swear each glass had 3 shots in it! YIKES!).  We danced the night away til almost 5am. I must say I’m a bit proud that I still have it in me at times. I’m more of a glass of wine at home person now than a party at the club all night person. Don’t get me wrong, in my young 20’s I was all about it… but now I prefer conversation and relaxation (and sleep!). We hobbled  our way (our feet were killing us! I wore flats but still felt like cutting my feet off) over to the bus stop and caught the bus back to their flat. The bus was pretty full and most people were sleeping — how do they know when to get off?? What an unforgettable first night out on the town in Madrid!

Party in the streets of Madrid - chaos!

Party in the streets of Madrid – chaos!

I think I found my new boyfriend ;-). Such a trendsetter. Creative. I think he is going places. Right?

I think I found my new boyfriend ;-). Such a trendsetter. Creative. I think he is going places. Right?

Dancing til the wee hours of the morning

Dancing til the wee hours of the morning

Dancing in The Palace

Dancing in The Palace

Day 94 – July 19 (3)

Expenses – 5 Euro (beers at festival)

Cloudy and colder day – it was a nice relief from the heat the past two days!  Tania and I went driving to get Zaida skates for her bday. While I am staying with Zaida and Tania I will be helping them improve their English. Zaida is studying to take an English exam so we are working on speaking and writing. Tania is is beginning to learn English so we are working on pronunciation and conversational language. It’s been great because it is forcing me to learn and use more Spanish. I never studied Spanish before… I just started two months ago so I’m happy that I at least know SOMETHING haha!

Once we got back to the flat I took a siesta. I’m becoming a huge fan of siestas (aka the nap time for adults).  Best. thing. ever. Perhaps I was Spanish in another life because throughout my life I always felt the urge to nap in the late afternoon but usually couldn’t because I was enslaved to my office and work. We had plans to head to this festival 20 minutes away so we got ready and had some snacks and drinks before we left. I wasn’t sure what to expect at this festival but it was much like the American carnival! They had games, rides, and food stands. We sat for a while chatting and having some drinks before heading over to the stage area where a concert was going on. The artist was Daniel Diges, who is pretty famous here in Spain I think. He was singing some American classics so I appreciated him :-). We listened for a bit then went over to the area with the attractions. We went on this CRAZY… I mean legit crazy spinning ride! It was so fast and bounced around — and went on for EVER. This would def not be legal in the US haha! For 2 Euros it was money well spent. Once again my stomach hurt so much from laughing!! Next were the bumper cars where I got a bit beat up. I think i’m a tad too tall to be riding those things… a week later and I still have the bruises to prove it!

Daniel Diges performing at Fiesta del Carmen

Daniel Diges performing at Fiesta del Carmen

We survived the spinning ride!!!

We survived the spinning ride!!!

Such a crazy ride - it was nutso!

Such a crazy ride – it was nutso!

Crash boom bam

Crash boom bam

 

Day 95 – July 20 (4) – Sunday

I went to the Sunday farmer’s market to get veggies and fruits a short walk from the flat with Zaida and Inma. We then took the Metro to Madrid Rio to walk around. For lunch we had a picnic by the river, got ice cream and I was introduced to “the beach” (a concrete area with water spouts and lounge chairs). The girls turned to me and said to use my imagination haha! With Madrid being in the middle of Spain there is no beach in sight! On our way back to the flat we stopped by to visit Tania at work. She is a policewomen for the President. There is a complex 10 minutes from their home where the important government people live (like The White House in the USA).

At night Zaida and I started watching Once Upon a Time. I surprisingly got interested in the show… typically fantasy stuff doesn’t amuse me but after three back to back episodes I got into it. Tania got back from work a bit after 10 and said the neighbor upstairs invited us over for gazpacho. He lives on the top floor and has an awesome rooftop terrace. What started as gazpacho and summer wine (red wine mixed with carbonated lemon drink)… turned into a full on meal and authentic Moroccan tea!! The roommate of their neighbor is from Morocco and he made and served us the BEST TEA I’VE EVER HAD!!! No lie its was seriously amazing. A sweet mint tea of sorts.

Just to think a year ago I was living on my friends couch in Hollywood waiting to drive cross country to move back to Philly… and NOW here I was sitting on a rooftop terrace in Madrid, drinking Moroccan tea, and laughing the night away with my new Spanish friends. If you have a vision and desire… you just have to take action and make it happen! I would DREAM about travel but rarely took the actions I needed to make it happen. Once I started doing so (no matter how little the action was)… it built momentum towards making my travel dreams a reality. I don’t have it all figured out yet but if I could figure out how to get here… I’m confident I’ll figure out how to stay here!

Parque Madrid Rio

Parque Madrid Rio

"The beach"

“The beach”

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Moroccan tea – BEST TEA EVER!

Not sure what I ate but it was good :-) Sometimes you just have to take the plunge not knowing whats going in haha...

Not sure what I ate but it was good 🙂 Sometimes you just have to take the plunge not knowing what is going in haha…

Day 96 – July 21 (5) – Monday

Thanks to the shutters that come down over my window, I was able to sleep in a little bit. After breakfast I went to the park across the street and went for a “run” and exercises. It was so freaking hot out I would run for a few minutes and feel like I was about to keel over from heat exhaustion… so I played it safe and did a combo of walking, running, and stopping at these exercise stations to do lunges, squats, and push ups. In the afternoon I worked with Zaida on her English writing and then Tania and I read to each other (her in English and I in Spanish) to help each other with our pronunciation. Tania had to work night shift so Zaida and I relaxed at home and watched three more episodes of Once Upon a Time. Sometimes you just need a day to do little… and relax a LOT!

Day 97 – July 22 (6) – Tuesday

Woke up early with Tania and went to the city center.  She had a two hour course to take so I walked around and saw some of the touristy sites. Aside from walking in the wrong direction at first I managed to navigate a long walking expedition throughout the town. I attempted to find some cheap clothes but was unsuccessful. I really don’t mind living out of a backpack but given the weather in Madrid is SO hot right now I could use at least one more dress. I bought some at Primark in Tenerife but after wearing them for two months they were falling apart so I left them in the clothing donation bin at the hostel. I am also in desperate need of a new pair of flip flops. I think my black Primark flip flops that cost 1 Euro can now be considered the 8th wonder of the world. HOW they have managed to hang on this long I have no idea! I wear them so much… the heel is almost as thin as a piece of paper… and the left strap breaks at least two times a day. Did I forget to mention how classy I am on the road? It’s glamorous :-). Travel has really made me evaluate my wants versus needs. Soooo until these flip flops go up in flames I will continue to wear them (same with my clothes). After my walk around town, I met Zaida in the park and we walked around and chatted some more about our lives and families.  There was a heat warning for the afternoon so we came back to the flat in the early afternoon and had some drinks and snack before taking a siesta (I told you I love them)!

In the evening we went back to city center to meet one of their friends for snails. YES SNAILS. We went to “the best place for snails” in Madrid which was this small restaurant with only 3 tables and a counter. I’m a pretty adventurous eater so I had a few snails (I’ve had them before on a cruise — but they had been removed from the shell and were in a butter sauce). These snails still had their shell so you have to pry them out with a toothpick. The broth also had chunks of chorizo so it was slightly spicy and salty. I would compare the texture and taste similar to clams but a little less chewy. I wouldn’t want to have a whole bowl to myself but I managed to chow down a few :-). After, we wandered over to this bar that had 1 Euro beers and 2 Euro glasses of wine. You also got a small snack with it – SWEET (bread with a topping – one was tortilla/tomato, one with ham, and one with corn/crabstick salad). Talk about a deal!!

Puerta del Sol - the Time Square of Madrid for New Years Eve

Puerta del Sol – the Time Square of Madrid for New Years Eve

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena

I felt weird taking a selfie with so many other tourists around so I pretended to take a picture of the cathedral across the way... the end result is me looking sad and perplexed -- at the Royal Palace

I felt weird taking a selfie with so many other tourists around so I pretended to take a picture of the cathedral across the way… the end result is me looking sad and perplexed — at the Royal Palace

Palacio Real de Madrid.

Palacio Real de Madrid.

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

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Not sure what this is called but it was in front of the park!

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Parque del Retiro


I'm an olive addict... I just dabble in snails.

I’m an olive addict… I just dabble in snails.

 

Beer and snack (just one piece per person) - only 1 Euro!!!

Beer and snack (just one piece per person) – only 1 Euro!!!



Day 98 – July 23 (7)

HOT HOT HOT day – stayed indoors most of the morning working on Spanish writing with Zaida. I went to the city center in the afternoon to meet Nathan and have a few beers. Nathan was the tour manager from England who drove us around and took care of us while Suburban Legend’s was on tour. He was in town for 2 nights with another band.  We were seated at an outdoor table on Mantera street which gave us a front row seat to watching hookers try to pick up men — in broad daylight!! None of them were very successful but it was amusing nonetheless.  I got back to the flat a bit late – one reason being I excited the subway from a different direction and got myself turned around a bit. I asked a man if he spoke English and he shook his head no so I tried in my Spanish to ask him where the other Metro exit was and he pointed… the lady in front of him also turned around and answered my question in English. I’ll still give myself a little credit that I was able to communicate in Spanish (baby steps!). Once back at the flat we went to the neighbor’s house again for dinner. His roommate cooked a delicious authentic Moroccan cous cous meal (with the BEST TEA EVER of course!). Yet again is was another enjoyable night of laughter, me trying to speak Spanish, and sharing a great meal!

Mantera hooker watching. Once girl had pants that read "Born to Be With" - i wonder if she had then custom made?? hmmm

Mantera hooker watching. Once girl had pants that read “Born to Be With” – i wonder if she had them custom made?? hmmm

Enjoying some cold beers in the hot Madrid sun with Nathan!

Enjoying some cold beers in the hot Madrid sun with Nathan!

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