Title: I really like madrid Location: Madrid, Spain
Today was a fun filled day of tours and exploring. We started off the day early with a tour of El Prado museum where we were partially able to see famous works by El Greco, Goya, and Valesquez. I say partially because there were a ton of people in the museum... so many that we could rarely see all of a painting and could barely hear the tour guide (which didn´t help any, because the tour was in Spanish).
After that, we had roughly 4 hours of free time to explore the city so a group of 5 guys + me went out to wander the streets. There is a huge park, El Parque Retiro that is really close to El Prado so we headed there first. Once you´ve walked in it for 5 minutes, you can no longer see nor hear the city, which is pretty neat. So we spent some time in the park and then left to wander our way towards finding a place to eat and our afternoon tour. On the way, we managed to get lost several times but were always able to get directions from a nice local. One guy even gave us his map since we didn´t have one. Que simpatico!
As we are walking down one of the main streets in Madrid we come across un restruante called ¨Nebraska¨, complete with red and white sign and red and white interior. Then, 5 minutes later, we come across another, then another. We saw 3 of these places in a span of roughly 30 minutes.... and they were all BUSY. Apparently people in Madrid think there is something special about Nebraska. Weird.
Eventually we found a place to eat and then moved on to our next tour. One thing that we found is that beer and soda are almost always cheaper than water which provides an interesting dilemma to poor college students.
Our afternoon tour was at El Palacio Real (the Royal Palace). They were out of tour guides so we kind of just walked through it and took pictures and such. It was neat, but I could have easily done without it. The tour lasted all of 30-45 minutes. Afterwards, we were free for the rest of the night.
A lot of people decided to go back to the hotel and take a nap but me, a couple guys and a couple girls still wanted to explore. We went through the gardens by the Palace and then on to wander Madrid. The girls hadn´t seen the park yet so we headed back in that direction. When we got there, we were all pretty tired, so we found a nice patch of grass and took a short siesta. Rested and ready for more exploring, we set off to wander the park. In doing so, we came across a building made of all glass (save the support beams). In front of this building, there was a set of stairs and a line down the stairs. The glass around the bottom was smoked so we couldn´t really see inside so we waited in line to get in. It turns out that the building was filled with absolutely nothing except that the floors were all mirrors. To enter, you had to take a pair of ¨special socks¨ from the doorwoman and wear them. To add to the weird nature of this building, there is a low, constant, noise being played over a set of speakers. Apparently this was supposed to be a place to relax so relax we did, sprawling out on the mirrored floors. After about 30 minutes we decided we should probably let others enter (only 25 at a time) so we headed out and took the Metro back to the hotel.
We got back to the hotel at 8:30 and agreed to meet back up around 9 to head out for dinner and such. There was a neat looking place in LetsGo! that we thought we could find (but couldn´t) so we ended up eating at a little restaurant we walked by. The food was good (and cheap). As we were finishing, a local guy stopped by our table asking for a light. We didn´t have one, but he took a particular interest in one of the girls and decided to tell us his life story (in English). Turns out he is a drug addict and a compulsive liar. He invited us back to his ¨hotel room¨ for drinks which we politely refused... and then made a quick escape when he went to another table to get the light he had originally came looking for.
From there we headed to a random bar to check out the Madrid night life. I must say, I am amazed at how crazy things get at night. When I finally returned to my hotel at 2am, the streets were just as busy with cars and people as they are during business hours. Not only that, but the Madrid night life is for everyone, young and old. At the last bar we visited, the three men at the table next to us were at least 65-70 years old. As we were walking home, we saw a couple pushing a stroller.. at 2am!!
As you can probably tell, I absolutely loved Madrid. I wish we could have spent more time taking in the city but, but it was time to take Spanish classes and study.