I arrived in Madrid on September 27, 2007. Since didn’t get my backpack until after 2AM, I decided to hang out at the airport until the metro starts running at 6AM. Yes, I was too cheap to take the taxi towards city center, nor do I want to pay for the night. Once the metro started running, I hopped on and went on my merry way.
It was still dark and a bit chilly at 7AM when I got out off the metro. When I found the hostel, I was told that I cannot check in until after 130PM. Great, I now have to bear going around Madrid half asleep. To kill time, I put some effort to see Madrid on foot. I am quite impressed how beautiful this city is. As I walked around, I found Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. I was excited to go into this particular museum. Why? Because I know the museum houses the most famous work by Pablo Picasso – “Guernica.” As I viewed the paintings I was surprised to see a piece by a fellow Filipino Fernando Zobel “Navacerrada.” It is not common to see work by an artist from the Philippines, or anything by a Filipino on the world stage. Therefore, seeing an art made by another Filipino, it is easy for me to feel proud. Before I hit my two hour threshold in a museum, I saw a group of people looking at one particular piece. And there it was, the famous painting named “Guernica.”
The following day I wanted to purchase a new camera. My friend Jaime from Madrid whom I met in Berlin suggested that I go to a store off the center where I can find the best price for a camera. Travel time took about an hour and when I was about to pay for my new camera, the cashier requested to see my passport. I don’t normally walk around with my passport at all times. Hence, I have to go back to the hostel, pick up my passport, then go back to the store. After dinner, Miguel from Argentina, Will from Oklahoma, and Jered from Boston and I watched Roberta from Italy eat her dinner at the restaurant. Roberta is a funny gal. She just talks which made the night interesting. Jered had to fly to Austria that night which left us four bar hopping all night on the streets of Madrid. At around 4AM, we run into a French guy that used to stay in the hostel with us. He moved out since his Mom was visiting for the weekend. He asked us for a joint since his Mom was looking for one. How cool is that – a 47 year old Mother of an 18 year old son looking for a joint together at four in the morning. I just find it really funny and cool. Not that I smoke!
It was past mid-day when I woke up the next day. A bit hung over. Yet the sun was out inviting me to explore. And let me tell you, that is exactly what I did. I walked for six hour straight! Passing by beautiful gardens, Plaza Mayor where tourist are scattered all over, parks where children were playing, Catedral Ntra. Sra. De la Almudena where a couple was getting married, a river where an old couple was crossing a bridge holding hands, and I got a haircut along the way. Yes, it was tiring. On the other hand very fulfilling. To re-energize myself, I sat inside a café for a cup of coffee and a slice of coconut cake. That night, Roberta invited me to go to a house party. Myself and a German fellow came with her. On the way up to the apartment, we got stuck inside the elevator. There were six of us inside a small elevator for ten minutes breathing quietly as we sweat profusely. Thank God it opened! The party was very nice. The apartment was overlooking Palacio del Senado. At the party, people were just having fun, and I met so many people. Miguel and Will came a little after. After an hour, Miguel disappeared. We all thought that he went back to the hostel. But at 430 in the morning, as we were leaving the party, there he was, passed out sitting and sleeping outside on the steps leading to the apartment. It was definitely game over for him. We tried to holler a cab. The fifth cab let us in. A few minutes later, the driver noticed Miguel wasted. The driver was concerned that Miguel is going to vomit all over the taxi. He then kicked us out on the middle of the street. We then have to holler for a another cab. There’s always a first – that was the first time I got kicked out off a taxi!
Sunday, the day when majority of hung over exists. I woke up a bit later and didn’t start my day until 4PM. I wanted to see Museo Del Prado. On my way, I run into Miguel and Will. Miguel still looks wasted. I then went on to the museum and I learned that the entry fee is waved for the day. Score! The museum houses works by Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt, and others, as well as sculptures, drawings, and other treasures. After I hit my two hour mark, I went outside and just walked passing Plaza del Sol and finding my way into Iglecia de Las Salesas Reales where a mass was being conducted. That night, Roberta, Eduardo from Italy and I just hung out on Calle Huertas for some good people watching.
On Monday, I was seriously considering to prolong my stay in Madrid. I have met great people and I definitely like the city. I have one full day to decide before I go to the airport the next day. As I walk around the Botanical Garden, I decided that I will go to the airport the following day. If it’s less than 20Euros to change my flight, I will stay. That night, Roberta, Eduardo, a guy from Texas, and I checked out a Jazz bar where live music was played. There we met Agustin from Spain who used to live in the Philippines while his parents worked as a diplomat. It was a perfect night to end my stay in Madrid… great music and great company.
Tuesday, the day I leave for Cairo via Athens. I woke up a bit early since I still have to pack. Roberta was supposed to wake me up, but she woke up later than I did. I took the metro to the airport ready to pay a fee to stay longer in beautiful Madrid. I then proceeded to Olympic Air counter and asked if I can change my flight. I was told that if I don’t get on the flight I cannot change. Man, oh how I wanted to stay longer in Madrid. Oh well. There will always be a next time! Maybe live there for a year or two?
I arrived in Athens before 6PM. I decided to leave the airport and have dinner in the city center. It was nice to explore Athens with the little time that I have. After dinner, I headed back to the airport by bus to catch my midnight flight to Cairo. I have been in Cairo the last four days. I will head to Aswan tomorrow morning.
Here’s some pictures taken in Madrid and Athens. I have decided only to post 11 photos since connection here in Egypt is slow to load.