Madrid, Spain

After a long painful flight via Moscow from Hanoi (I suppose it wasn’t that bad and I saw three good movies: I was just expecting to be able to sleep but in small seats and on a narrow aisle I did precious little), I could not be bothered taking three metro changes to the hostel so took a taxi. Fine, but the taxi driver didn’t understand English, took me to the wrong place despite my having the address written down for him, and did not initially believe me that I was not at the right place.

The next morning I rose for the free walking tour provided by a company that joins different hostels and hotels together. This was very interesting as our guide also gave us a detailed history of Spain in the context of things we passed: a good way to start my trip in Spain. After this I went back to the hostel, changed into shorts (very hot and summery!) and went off to the train station.

At the train station I needed to book my reservations for the trips I was taking within and from Spain – and at the very least my trip to Granada the next morning. Unfortunately this proved to be a very difficult proposition: it took ages to find someone who spoke English and I was ready to cry. Not because I think they should speak English (I’m the foreigner!) but because no information I had read regarding the Eurail pass said it would be that difficult. Feeling relieved, I eventually left with several printed reservations for my train tickets.

After that I was right near the huge, beautiful park that contained several interesting landmarks and many elaborate statues. I walked around and photographed things. It also included a large blue lake on which people were boating, and many Spanish people were sunbathing in bikinis and shorts.

After that I popped into the Prado art gallery with only about half an hour to spare before I had to get back to the hostel for the evening tapas tour. It proved more interesting than expected – I was struck by the ancient history of this old country – so I may return when I come back.

Back at the hostel I rushed to get ready for the tapas tour, but being 3 minutes late out of my room for the pick up, they had already left (I had assumed there would be more leighway!). The instructions said you could still meet them at the first tapas bar by 7:30 so I got there by 7:15 – but they had already left! Annoyed, I went back to the hostel, where the friendly guy working directed me to a good tapas bar nearby. I went and the friendly bartender happily spoke English to me and recommended me a tapas consisting of Iberian smoked ham (basically prosciutto) on toasted bread, and a glass of white wine. They also give you a small aperitif with every drink. I then had some very tasty sangria and wandered back to gussy up a bit more before the pub crawl.

The pub crawl left at quarter to ten and we joined a couple of others from different hostels. We went to two quite busy and decent bar/clubs before midnight, when jet lag crushed me and I had to make the very short work back to the hostel. I think I’ll do this when I come back with Kellie, and we´ll also be able to do the tapas tour. It is the same every night, after all.

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