72 hours in Madrid
Spain will forever hold a special place in my heart. Spain was the first country outside North America I visited and it was the experiences and memories that were created here.. that awoke my urge to travel! I received a position to work for the YMCA of Spain. At the time I was working for the YMCA of San Francisco. There’s isn’t a word that can describe how happy and scared I was to live so far away from home and for so long but i also felt excited to experience and amazing opportunity. I started my adventure in Madrid. I flew into Spain a week before starting work in order to spend time with my love. I landed in MAD at 7:30am and I will never forget the true feeling of being independent. There was no one there that I could rely on, except for myself. There’s so many stories out there about getting scammed or kidnapped, and I remember just praying that I get to my hotel with in one piece. MAD has an excellent taxi system. You can buy a ticket in the airport and the receipt has the final stop printed on it, all you have to do is stand in line and hand it to your taxi person when they pull up. My taxi driver was so nice! He reassured me that I was going to love Spain and that when my time comes to an end, I was going to be sad leaving.
The hotel is called Hotel II Castillas Madrid (Abada, 7, 28013. Madrid | Spain) and it was located down a small and cute alley off Gran Via. It was located in the best location, close to all the shops, subway, cafes and restaurants. After checking in I walked around Gran Via to check out the stores and cafes. The architecture was incredible and everyone was so nice. I headed over to the biggest flea market in Europe called El Rastro. This place was a piece of heaven on earth. There were A LOT of interesting things and in between the odd things were lots of treasure!
After some exploring, jet lag started to take toll and I headed back to my hotel to relax until my love flew in. After a few hours, around 9pm, my love finally arrived! After a year of JUST texting, it was so great to see him again and to hear his voice! Till this day we can’t believe we survived our first year of long distance only via text. The next day we woke up early and decided to do the Hop On and Off bus tour. There was so much to see in Madrid that it was cheaper and time efficient to take our time on the tour bus. The cool thing about these bus tours is that you can jump on one when ever you want through out the day. We bought a one day pass and didn’t have to worry about taking the subway. There was so much to see in one day..
We ended our day with a beer and tapas at El Tigre, located at Calle de las Infantas, 30, 28004 Madrid, Spain. At El Tigre, when you order a beer the owner brings you free food. A beer cost 4 euros and we got to try all kinds of different tapas. Its a small place, so it can get packed really quick but the crowd is young and fun. The owner is an older man with a huge mustache and a big smile. He was really sweet and made sure everyone was taken care of. As the restaurant started to close for the siesta, we headed back with full tummies, ready for a nap! After our siesta we got ready for dinner. Dinner in Spain takes place between the hours of 7 and 9, drinks from 9-12 and then the fun starts after midnight. We ate at a restaurant near our hotel, grabbed some drink at a cool bar located on Calle Jardines. I don’t remember the name but the small street was filled with cool bars. After a few beers we heard some fun salsa music booming out of a small club. I was surprised to find that the bars in madrid played a lot of America’s top 40 instead of Spanish music. So the music coming out from this club really stood out. The club was called Sala el Sol. It was located on the same street, Calle Jardines. This place was so much fun! It was packed with so many people salsa dancing and the drinks were really good. We ended the night around 3am with pizza and a romantic night walk back through Puerta de Sol and back to our hotel.
The next day we woke up early grabbed some breakfast and did some more exploring and some shopping. The best shops were down the alleys located off Gran Villa. It’s easy to get lost, so the alleys have colored tarps to help the tourists find their way.
After shopping we went to pick up our bull fight tickets, grabbed some lunch and ice cream and headed back to the hotel to get ready. We decided to walk to the bull ring and enjoy our last day in Madrid.
The walk ended up being much longer than expected 🙁 But well worth it when we arrived. The arena was beautiful! And the beers came in buckets! As the weather started to cool down we began to make our way to our seats.
The open ceremony was beautiful as all the matadors come out along with the other men that help within the bull fight. I was excited to experience this historic Spanish tradition. When the first bull came out the crowd cheered and we felt excited, until.. the actual killing of the bull. I didn’t realize or even take into consideration that you could hear the bull yell and take its last breath. I cried as my stomach sank. It got to the point that I was happy that the bull hurt the matador. The ‘bull fight’ consist of 5 bulls, which I didn’t know we would be witnessing this many being killed. The whole experience was something I would only do once. The positive behind this event is that the meat is sold at butcher shops and the hide is used. The idea of a slow death is horrible but the animal isn’t wasted like the animals that are hunted for sport.
After the fight we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate at another local restaurant then headed to Studio 54 for drinks. This place was so much fun! It was packed with people and the bartenders were super talented. They did so many tricks when serving drinks. The DJ was playing great music that had everyone dancing. At a certain point of the night the bartenders handed out props for everyone.We got some floatable pool rings. We ended the night somewhat early because we had to be up early and head to the airport in the morning 🙁
We woke up early enough to grab breakfast and coffee before heading to the airport. Saying goodbye is never easy but I was looking forward to starting my next adventure in Zaragoza with the YMCA and then looking forward to visiting Ireland! This summer was one of the best summers I ever had, and it was this trip that sparked the lust to travel more more!