We ended up in Madrid completely by accident. A few months ago in Cambodia when we were making our European plans, the only thing we knew was that we were meeting some friends somewhere in Spain in November. So when I saw a flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Madrid, Spain for ZERO Euros plus tax (for a grand total of 30 Euros for both of us), I booked it!
Turns out we were meeting our friends in the Costa Del Sol, a whole day’s worth of bus travel from Madrid but that didn’t matter because we fell in love with Madrid the moment we emerged from the depths of the subway. The city was lit up with more than just lights, it felt alive in a very New York kind of way.
We managed to find our hostel without getting lost, left our gear behind and immediately went in search of sangria and tapas. As we walked the streets, we noticed two things. One: This city was filled with seriously good looking people and Two: This city was filled with prostitutes. Or more accurately, one or two streets in this city were lined with hookers. I had never seen so many all at once before (this was before we made it to Amsterdam of course!) We were only in Madrid for two nights but I’ll never forget the bumblebee hooker – dressed in skin tight yellow and black leather from head to toe – two nights in a row. I would include a picture but quite frankly I was too scared to take one. I wish I had packed a spy cam because it would have come in handy on several occasions….
Anyways, wandering the streets of the city late at night looking for a tapas place was easy, choosing one was difficult! When we finally picked one and settled in to order, we were overwhelmed by the selection of tasty looking treats. Armed with our pitcher of sangria (dee-lish!), we chose the platter of tapas that would allow us to try a bunch. It was mostly bread topped with things like assorted cheeses and meats and that first pitcher of sangria turned into two so you know how that goes….
The next morning after our hostel included free breakfast (cold cereal, hot coffee and some weird pre-packaged loaf of something I was not about to put into my mouth), we ventured out into the daylight to enjoy our one full day exploring Madrid. I had picked up a pamphlet advertising a free walking tour and since we were pressed for time, thought we’d give it a shot. We met our guide and the rest of the group near a statue in the Puerta del Sol and the 3 1/2 hour tour was great fun (not to mention very educational!) Half way through the tour we even stopped for tapas which were only 1 euro each on Wednesdays and came with a free drink (wine, beer or sangria)!
The tour was “free”, but you were expected to tip your guide at the end, which everyone did of course. Sandemans offers these walking tours in several European cities. You can check them out here. I recommended them to friends who tried the tour in Edinburgh and were just as happy with theirs as we were with ours.
Some of the highlights of our Madrid walking tour included the Royal Palace, the worlds oldest restaurant, the origin of tapas, Cervantes and Don Quixote and some beautiful churches and cathedrals. The tour ended near the Museo del Prado so we ended our day with some wonderful and, at times, strange art (painting of a crow with a donut, dive bombing a monk?!)
Check out the crazy bathroom in our hostel. Behind the first glass door is the toilet and right beside it is the shower. Yes, the top is open to the rest of the room. Talk about a lack of privacy!
Our two nights in Madrid flew by and we were soon on a bus heading for Granada. We passed by beautiful rolling hills of olive trees, changed buses in Granada and exited at our final destination: Nerja, where we met up with some friends from back home for 2 1/2 weeks of Spanish indulgence. Stay tuned!