Well now that it's officially been two weeks since my Madrid trip, I suppose I should finally get around to updating you all on the trip. Sorry I've been so lazy with this, but I promise to get better at updates!
On February 17-20, 6 friends and I endured the 5 hour bus ride to Madrid for what we hoped was the Carnaval celebration. Wrong. Apparantly Carnaval is this weekend (March 4-6). A bunch of websites and my current 2011 Spain travel book all said it was that weekend, but apparently they were wrong. I should have known, because Carnaval is basically the Spanish version of Mardi Gras, which occurs right before Ash Wednesday. Even though we were upset with the mix up, I am taking it as a blessing in disguise because I never would have done or seen any of the things that we did instead.
Thursday February 17: Arrive in Madrid! We had our first metro experience and then had to settle a hostel mix up. The hostel we booked online was not the same hostel in Madrid. The website's address and phone numbers did not match. It was a mess at the time, but we found a decent hostel right down the block less than 2 doors away that had accommodations for all of us. After settling in, we decided to venture out and eat dinner. After a lot of disagreement and discusison, Burger King was the winner. (Don't judge.) After dinner, we at churros con chocolate, which is very famous in Spain. We actually had churros from the most famous churro diner in Madrid. They were good, but nothing to write home about in my opinion. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around in the Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol. In the evening Carly (my friend from New Orleans) and I went to a bar and met a guy who actually was born in Peru, grew up in London, and now teaches English in China. His family lives in Spain now, and he was making his way back to China. It was a great evening, and he was absolutely fascinating to talk to! We also met up with two guys from California, and one was even born in Nebraska! Needless to say, first night was a success!
Friday February 18: Carly and I spent most of the day trying to track down Real Madrid futbol tickets. It's been a dream of Carly's to see Real Madrid (2010 World Cup Champs) play live. When we got the tickets, I thought Carly was going to pass out due to excitement. We also visited the Palace, which was amazing! So much detail went into every room that we saw. The tour only allowed us to see about 20 rooms, but there are over 1,000 in the palace! It was just incredible how much gold detail and artwork went into the rooms. That night we ventured to a bar called Nebraska! I told the waiter I was from Nebraska in the United States and he brought us free tappas (appetizers) with our wine! We also went to an Irish Pub later with our friend from Austria, Alex whom Carly and I had met earlier in the day. It was a lot of fun, and I think the bartender got a kick out of us.
Saturday February 19: The morning was spent exploring the museum, Reina Sofia. It was an art museum with a lot of Picasso's work as well as a few Salvador Dali's artwork. The modern art was very interesting, and I really enjoyed seeing the Guernica in person. The Guernica is a Picasso a very famous Picasso painting about Spain during WWII. That night was the Real Madrid game. I did not know what to expect, but I had soooooo much fun! Grown men jumped up and hugged and sang when they scored, and the atmosphere was just great. After the game, we randomly came upon where the players drive out to go home. Fans lined the streets. We decided to stay and take picures. I was not prepared for what happened. The players (in their matching new sports cars) would stop at the stop light and fans would flock the cars just to touch it and take pictures. Girls seriously were crying, and little kids chased after the cars. There was police and media and just chaos. The futbol players here are treated like absolute Gods. I have never seen anything like it before. I was just amused by the entire thing.
Sunday February 20: 2 other girls and I went to the open air market, but were only there for about a half hour before we were called back to the hostel. Carly had gotten extremely sick and needed to go home as soon as possible. We packed up our things and headed to the bus station. Unfortunately, there was no way for us to change our tickets, so we waited in the bus station for four hours. Not the most fun time of my life, but it was good to just sit down. The weekend was just constant on the go and never really any down time. I was very stupid and took only one pair of shoes; my flats nonetheless. Lets just say they didn't survive the trip.
Well I know this was a book, but my first official long stay trip was a complete success and jam-packed! I know there was disappointment that we weren't there for Carnaval; however, we would have never gotten to go to the palace or the museum or the game if it had been. We also got to sightsee a lot more than we would have. I guess everything really does happen for a reason! I think the entire group could agree, our Madrid trip was amazing, even if it did end with every single one of us getting the flu! :)