After finishing up the sea survival training friday afternoon Jordan, Marissa and I departed for London at 2:30 am. Boarded our flight at 8 am and were in Madrid smoothly by noon. After taking the metro to our hostel we decided to grab some food from a cafe across the street. We successfully ordered and when the food came, i got a quesadilla the size of my palm, Jordan got a ball of fried dough attached to a magnifying glass and cheese in a syringe and Marissa's food was moving, not alive but still moving... It was quite the meal to say the least... So later we met up with Marissa's friend Deidre and the notorious Samantha, who found her way to Madrid to meet up with us. Deidre took us around the city which included this small little bar that serves infamous liquor made from berries that are alcoholic when they are growing on the tree. The symbol of Madrid is an alcoholic bear trying to get at these berries on the tree, or so the legend says... anyways this little bar is the only place where you can get this alcohol and they serve it in chocolate coated ice cream cone glasses.
After that we went to this really cool market called El Mercado de San Miguel where we enjoyed some quality (yet expensive) spanish tapas. After eating real food we went to a bar to watch the Mardid vs Barcelona football game (soccer). This is a big rivalry not just because they're two big cities in spain but Barcelona is ranked #1 and Madrid is #2 in their league. It was really cool to just sit back in a bar and enjoy the game. After the game the had some drinks in the street as spaniards do and then we went our separate ways, in my case, back to the hostel.
Day 2 (Apr 17)
On sunday we met Sam early and went to this street market where we met Deidre. This street market was absolutely massive taking up all the streets in about 4 city blocks. They had just about everything you could be looking for. My favorite bit was the small side street that had all the art vendors displaying and selling their work. Some of them were amazing and some of them i felt that i could do with my eyes closes while painting with my feet. I wish i had the means to get some of the work home with me.
After the market we went in search of this restaurant Deidre had heard good things about but had never been to. We found the address and the building looked super sketchy, but as Deidre knows the culture she knew we had to take a rickety elevator up to the 6th floor to find the nice restaurant. After a substantial wait we finally got a small table outside on the balcony where we were greeted angrily by a waiter who was angry we were taking up so much space. After a nice meal it was now time for my most anticipated part of spanish culture... the Siesta! We headed to a sweet park where we found a nice napping spot within earshot of a guy playing the saxophone.
After a short nap Deidre had to leave for her easter break and the 4 soton americans went to the Museo del Prado, an art museum very near to the park. The museum featured some very famous spanish painters such as Goya and Velazquez. I was excited to see some fine art again, the girls were less impressed... After the museum, everyone was still tired from a busy day so we decided just to chill. We ended up getting some pizza for dinner, ice cream for desert and chilled in an Irish pub (of all places) discussing a variety of things while enjoying a Guinness. We then called it a night because we planned to get up early the next day.
Day 3 (Apr 18)
On Monday, since our spanish student/tour guide friend Deidre left, we decided to go on one of those free tours that they offer around europe, much like Dublin. Our tour guide for today was a Brit studying in Madrid. We saw alot of major sites in Madrid, including the worlds oldest restaurant, the bar with the alcoholic berries liquor again and a really amazingly ornate palace. After our tour and everything we wandered around a bit like we do best and then we planned to go with sam to her couch surfer meeting/social thingy. So we made our way as the sun was going down to what they call the temple park. The place was set up on a hill overlooking the outskirts of the city. The temple that was there was actually moved to madrid from egypt to try and raise money for Egypt some years back. We met up with the couch surfers and had some interesting conversations with some Norwegian guys and after the meeting we went in search of some food (at midnight cause we hadnt eaten yet). Our new friend Guillermo took us to this one bar where he talked to owner into giving us proper tapas by saying that by giving us a decent meal he would create a butterfly effect for his buisness cause we'd tell all our travelling friends about it (which i did). So the owner gave us basically an entire delicious meal and all we bought were 2 pitchers of Sangria. After that bar we went in search of La Leche de Pantera... or Panther Milk at the cave bar. This was refered to us by one of Marissa's or Sam's friends and we eventually made it there and split 2 liters of this panther milk between us. The bar was actually themed like a cave... with stalactites on the ceiling and the milk part of the panther milk came out of one of the stalactites. After this bar we made our way back to the hostel.
Day 4 (Apr 19)
The previous night and a few days before there was talk of Sam going out to the countryside outside madrid with Guillermo and the preious night jordan and I decided that we should go with Sam out to the countryside to Guillermos place. So we met Sam and Guillermo at the bus station where we took a bus about an hour outside of madrid. Upon getting off the bus it really did seem like the middle of nowhere.... and so we started to walk. Tramping through the desert esque lanscape because it was a shortcut, we made it to his "house" about a half hour after getting off the bus. The house was pretty rundown but very campy and outdoorsy. But Guillermo doesnt actually live in the house... no. the property is actually his friends and she lets him and some other people stay there when they want. Then he showed us his accomodation... a tent out past the 3 little ponds.
When we got there Guillermo's hippy friends were literally building a raft out of wood they found. It was pretty funny and i was doubtful that it'd float but by golly it did. We spent the day just hanging out in nature, by the river, by the ponds, in hammocks, in fields of grass, etc. I spent a good bit of time on the raft as well :) and i gave guillermo expert advice on the carp fisheries of his pond haha :)
It was a sad time when we had to leave but Jordan and I had to catch a bus to Sevilla at 11:00 pm so we treked out to the bus stop and waited forever for a bus. After finally getting to madrid Jordan and i were super rushed to get to the metro so we could get to the bus station and make our bus. We literally ran from the metro to the bus but did make it and so we were off to Sevilla.