BootsnAll Travel Network

Madrid, Spain

In Madrid, I learned something about how I travel. When I set off alone, wandering up and down the twisting streets, I was totally (unreasonably, perhaps) okay with it when I realised I was lost and had no idea where I was. I thought about where I’d been and figured it out easily enough, but I didn’t panic. It was eleven at night (late for us Americans, not so much for the Spanish), it was dark, it was crowded, it was loud, it was amazing. I was glad I got lost. I just marvelled it what I saw, what I experienced there. Madrid in the daytime is pretty but kind of boring. Madrid at night is amazing. That’s when the city comes alive. I guess that’s sort of obvious to most people who go there. Two of the three nights we were there, my grandparents tired themselves out doing touristy things like bus tours and seeing the palace all day, and went to bed really early. I guess it’s understandable, if you’re seventy. But, a word of warning for all going to Madrid: Don’t do that!

Madrid is only alive at night. It’s bright and loud and beautiful and crowded. It’s very Spanish. I knew when I went there that, in Spain, people eat dinner at ten or eleven and even adults with families stay out until the early hours of the morning (not like here!), but my grandparents didn’t know so I didn’t really experience it so much (next time, it’ll be different!). I saw people juggling fire, playing various musical instruments, just walking around with their friends. The people! The music! The sound, the lights! It’s so my kind of city, at night. And I’m a night owl.

We drove to Madrid from Calahonda in our rental car. The driving itself was pretty uneventful, but when we finally got to Madrid, we had some difficulties finding the rental place because of unmarked/badly marked streets and weird internet directions. We drove around for ages, finally asked for help, got weird directions then, too, and eventually ended up with myself and my grandmother getting in a cab and giving the driver the address for the place we were staying, while my grandfather followed behind the cab until we eventually did get there and a helpful desk clerk directed us to a train station where we could turn in the rental car. I’m not naive enough to think this is major hardship, but it was interesting! I would have had more fun wandering around Madrid (getting lost is usually fun to me) if it weren’t for my grandfather in the driver’s seat complaining and generally stressing me out.

In Madrid, during the day, we took tours on the red double-decker buses(I think they’re called Madrid Vision, but I could be wrong. If you go, though, you’ll see them around and see their schedules at the regular bus stops, so you should be able to find them). They make stops most major destinations in Madrid, and have tour narration available in lots of different languages, and it’s fairly inexpensive for a tour and transportation. We went to El Retiro, which is a very nice park (which, for some reason, has people dressed up like disney characters). We saw the Royal Palace (not so great, but the view from the outside is nice). We did lots of riding around on the buses, actually. My experience of Madrid wasn’t what one would call amazing until the last night, when we were actually out at night, to experience Madrid. The squares were nice, though. We sat in squares and watched people and I learned to make a tiny, expensive Diet Coke last for hours since there are no free refills in Europe. We shopped at touristy shops. We ate lots of sandwiches (because they’re relatively inexpensive), and I almost always got egg on it when I asked for a cheese and tomato sandwich (sometimes hard boiled, a couple of times fried), and the waiters almost always got my order wrong even though I spoke Spanish (I guess maybe they couldn’t understand my accent).

We also went to the wax museum in Madrid (Museo de Cera). That was…interesting. I was kind of unimpressed with most of it (I guess Madame Tussaud’s would probably be better than this), although I found the displays were organised kind of weirdly (one included Hitler, Mussolini, George Bush, and Tony Blair; next to it was a display with Mother Theresa, Princess Di, and Fidel Castro). Upstairs was incredibly beyond creepy, though. It was the “crime gallery.” Realistic-looking displays of wax figures being subjected to all sorts of torture and dismemberment. Creepy music. Things that jump out at you. I shudder just remembering it. I was very freaked out by that. Very disturbing. And there were small children there! *Shudder*
As I said about London (and as I’ll continue to say), I would love to go back. I had a tiny taste of the city. I can’t wait to really experience more of it. Only I never want to go to that wax museum again.

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One response to “Madrid, Spain”

  1. cruego says:

    You almost said everything about Madrid! Great review 🙂
    I’ve been traveling around for some time in Madrid, but just in the town center.. I found a hostel, right in the middle of everything, and they pointed me in the right direction: museums, restaurants (I recommend “la Alhambra, in Huertas: cool place, great tapas and cheap!), churches…

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