Email AUGUST 25 2010 ESTOY EN MADRID!!!
Finally arrived in Madrid this morning!! It is pretty exciting stuff. Since when I arrived it was, oh 3 in the morning mountain time (the zone I left), I had about enough energy to reach the hostel in Madrid center, before passing out for about 2.5 hours. Then I repacked everything so my big suitcase is now way heavy, and my small suitcase has the stuff I want to travel with... well, pretty much.
The hostel I am staying with is so far less than friendly, but I'll work on it. Apparently there is a pub crawl (tapas crawl) loosely organized here everynight, so I will probably do that tonight. For now, I am off to roam the city proper for the first time, and to see how luggage lockers work at the train stations because I'm hoping to lock up my big suitcase till next week. The hostel I am at doesn't have lockers (weird) so it upmost important that I figure this out first for peace of mind. (right now my luggage is locked with my own locks, in a locked room, but it's a shared room, so I'm not thrilled about the situation. Someone could still take them. Therefore EVERYTHING i don't want to lose is on my person. It's kind of annoying).
Everything is in Spanish, including the writing on the can of coke I am drinking right now, and the google page my internet network opened too. Already my brain is working in spanish harder than it ever has. Thank goodness I know the language at least a little bit. Thank goodness at least one of my spanish years in high school was taught well. Still there is so much to learn and figure out, both language wise and, well, everything!!!! But that's what I signed up for. Vive la adventure!
Well I'm off to find comida! (food) wish me luck!
Hata luego (till the next time)
EMAIL home: August 29 2010 DESPUES A POCO MAS DIAS
Hello again. I'm still In Madrid, and still getting lost in my wanderings, but not as much... I think. I've decided I really really like this city. It is sort of a combination of New York city and Boston North end, with more pedestrian only streets (and the occasional vespa or car threatening to run you over on a street that you thought was pedestrian only) Oh yeah, and the fact that everything is in Spanish. So far it seems walkable, bustling, and accessible. There are endless shops and restaurants, so I know I'll have a good time exploring the many possibilities. Consequently, true to form, I wander a lot looking for a place to eat or drink until I can't stand it any longer and wind up at a random ice cream shop or McDonalds. Really, yesterday I ate lunch at McDonalds (best McDonalds salad i've ever had in fact.) The fruit is very good too. I discovered a fruteria (fruit only store. There are many) yesterday, and bought a peach. It was huge and delicious and only cost .50 euros =) People here are very very friendly and helpful too.One Madrileno came to my rescue in the subway yesterday as I was trying to get my now 60 some pound bag through the entrance turnstyle. He decided to help me lift it over, no help asked for, no english spoken. I was very grateful.
I went for a run yesterday in retiro parque, Madrid's own version of central park. It is so nice! Apparently it was only for royalty until the late 1800's or something. There's a pond you can rent boats on, a pathway winding around a creek, live music somewhere, and my favorite, a labyrinth rose garden! And guess what, I heard swing music as I ran, and came across a lindy balboa (swing dancing) club that meets weekly. I got the information, and plan to go to the next gathering. Dancing is universal, right? Well, I'll find out.
I didn't meet anyone for the first 36 hours. It was weird. Usually i'm very outgoing in hostel situations, but for some reason this hostel is a bit daunting. Honestly I don't feel like putting out anything more than minimal friendly effort. But at the last minute last night I did go out for Tapas with a girl from my room (she was french canadian), and together we to had an awesome time. We found this small street PACKED with restaurants and street tables, and waiters trying to usher us in with promises of cervazas gratis (free beer). But apparently, one waiter actually meant it when he said he'd give us beer for free. he gave us 2 free beers each, chose tapas for us (delicious green olives, Jamon y bread, and this awesome mushroom covered toast thing) - total for this? (3 plates, and 6 beers total?) less than 10 euros. Needless to say we tipped him, whether it is culturally expected or not.
We got back from our tapas excursion just in time for me to go on the pub crawl.... which started at 1am btw. Only three people from my hostel went, but we met up with a huge group of australians from another hostel also on the pub tour. I hung out mostly with a guy from and brazil, who spoke pore English, and his friend from Italy, who spoke better english and even better spanish with his brazillian friend. So, I spent my night talking in broken spanish and english, and all was understood. Consequently, i'm feelinleg more spanish confident. I still have a lot to learn... A LOT... but I can already get by better and am thinking and using spanish about 30% easier than when I got here just two days ago.
The pub crawl ended in a fancy big 7 story club called Kapitol.I swear, big clubs are the same everywhere: overpriced (beer there costs times more than it does at a pub! And they wanted to charge me 6 euros for water!!), not great music, and basically a meet market. Spanish boys are hilarious. There come on line? Como te llama (what is your name). How original, right? They are definitely forward little buggers too many grabbed my hand to kiss it, but they are not bad. Just ridiculous.
I got back around 6:30 in the morning.... and slept till about noon, missing check out for the hostel. woops! Luckily, I can stay another night.
Although tomorrow I'm planning on heading to Toledo for a few night as soon as I can. I don't know where I'm staying there yet, so wish me luck! I have a hostel in mind, but they really might not have any openings.
Please keep sending responses to me emails, no matter how short! They really help me through the lonely overwhelmed feelings popping u that tend to from time to time
Love you all