No one said it would be easy…
My first 3 days in Madrid have been some tough ones, but they ended on a very high note (glass half full!).
After arriving to Madrid in the wee hours of the morning (7:30am local time), I was exhausted and ready to put on my pj’s and take a nap! I waited at the baggage claim area and sadly watched everyone’s luggage go around on the carousel until plucked from its owners. Mine never showed.
Still in a surreal state of mind that I was at last in Spain, I brushed it off and carried out the necessary steps to retrieve my lost luggage. I blame the blizzard in Chicago for this discrepancy. It was kind enough to let me barely make it onto my connecting flight to Madrid, but I’m guessing wasn’t so kind to my suitcase.
A friend of mine was already in Spain visiting with her family, so she and I decided to meet up that night. I CANNOT thank her enough. She is fluent in Spanish and helped me out tremendously by going to el Cortes Ingles with me to buy necessities such as a comforter and adapters for my US items. She indirectly helped me not freeze at night and connect with my family. THANK YOU!
That night, we also enjoyed a typical tapas dinner. It was just as I had read about, and now I was actually doing it! It still shocked me, though, to see people from 18 to 70 years old eating at 10:30pm at night and drinking a rioja or cana, local wine or beer. I could really get used to this… The atmosphere was relaxed and fun, and soaked in every second of it.
Then came the next disaster… my local phone which has very low fees for local calling (and was crucial to helping me stay in contact with my airline and lost luggage) was pick-pocketed sometime after dinner.
Now I was really in the thick of it.
Thankfully, through the wifi at my apartment, I was able to speak with my mom back in Florida and a friend here studying abroad also from UF. Constant phone calls and another full day stranded in my apartment waiting was the price I had to pay. By some miracle, my luggage arrived the next day. And the first thing I did was throw on my puffer jacket, grab my camera, and finally leave my apartment. I spent all day Sunday walking around the city.
Being Sunday, most stores are closed in Madrid, but one attraction is always open- El Rastro. It is Madrid’s largest outdoor market, and it was on my bucket list of things to see. I mostly watched as I walked through El Rastro, seeing people haggle and bargain for different items. It was amazing.
I decided to try and buy food around the area. It was time to practice my awful Spanish. I muddled through and found myself at a Cerveceria, or bar/eatery. The place was swarming, so I knew it was a good pick. And it did NOT disappoint. After butchering my Spanish to order a tosta y bebida, I finished both in about 10 minutes.
Then, I continued to walk around to see some of the more popular areas such as Puerta del Sol, Calle Mayor and the Sabatini Gardens.
Later, I met up with one of my roommates to attend the Dia de los Reyes Magos parade, or the Three Kings Day parade. We squished like sardines into the streets near the Palacio de Cibeles. The best part, I think, was watching the children’s reactions around me as they watched each elaborate float and horseback rider ride through the parade screaming “Caramelos!” which is candy that people in the parade throw to the people.
Yes, the first three days were a bit rough for me, but it ended with a bang. I know I’m in the right place. I can’t wait to see what else it has in store…