Shoe Shopping and Prado – Two Days in Madrid!

Madrid!!!!!! Sounds like a happy start to this post :). On Friday I went to Madrid with two friends, whom I am going to call Vi and Em. Vi is German and Em is Quebecoise (woot woot Canadians!). It was a fairly last minute trip, since we couldn’t decide where to go all week. But Madrid is relatively close and easy to get to, by bus or train. It’s about two and a half hours away. We booked the hostel the Thursday night and when we tried to book the bus tickets using my visa, it didn’t work on the site, although it had just worked to book the hostel! So we decided that we would get up early and try to get tickets for the 9:30 bus. The bus station is only a five minute walk (not even) from our residences.

such comfy seats

  
When we got there, Vi needed to take money out of an ATM. Well that made for an interesting start to the morning. The machine gave her her money but it didn’t give her back her card! It was inside and was not coming out. But it wasn’t stuck, the machine just kept it and never gave it back. I know right! She called the number on the machine but as the kind old lady sitting on the bench near by had assumed, they weren’t very helpful. They said there was nothing they could do because the card wasn’t from their bank. But luckily she was able to call her bank in Germany and have them cancel the card.

Anyway, we weren’t able to catch the 9:30 bus so we had to get tickets for the one at noon. So we went back to res. I spent a good hour and a half chatting with my roomie about cute actors. T’was lovely.

The Hostel

When we got to Madrid, we realized how unprepared we were for the trip. We hadn’t done any research really about what to do or see and we didn’t have a map, but being the troopers we are, we made it to the hostel safe and sound. The Madrid Metro has so many routes it puts Toronto to shame (most places do). It took about 1/2 an hour to get to the hostel from the bus station.

Our hostel was really nice. It was pretty new and had only opened recently, so said the receptionist. We had booked a private 4 bed room because that was what was available/we were only going to be there for one night so we didn’t mind paying the extra few dollars for our own room. When we got our key we realized that we were put in a 6 bed room, but that was okay with us. We figured they had just run out of 4 bed rooms….yea….

Sol

After checking in we went walking around towards the centre of the city. Along the way we did some shopping…like a lot… I bought three pairs of shoes and Vi bought two and we all got some souvenirs. When all the shoe stores are having sales it’s a bit hard to resist. Besides, I seemed to have missed the memo about all Spanish girls having boots, so I bought two pairs – you know, to be more Spanish :P.

We eventually found our way to Puerta del Sol, which is a main tourist area. Puerta means door, literally, so I was assuming there would be some big gate thing or arch, a la Arc de Triomphe. Alas there was not. There was a lovely statue of some guy on a horse and a big glass thing that reminded me of the Louvre (but not as cool) or of the ROM (but not as awkward). I have to say the best thing about Sol were the people in costumes. There was a guy walking around as Spongebob and it just looked so out of place next to the statue. There were also some Smurfs, guys from some sci-fi movies we couldn’t identify, Mario and a kinda creepy Elmo. We got photos taken with Spiderman.

Spidey and I

Then we went into Top Shop, which I really wanted to go to. It was an utter disappointment. I love the one in Yorkdale at the Bay and this one sucked. Go to Yorkdale.

The rest of the day we just spent wandering around the city, looking at things that looked old, popping in and out of shops, spending too much money on candy and food – the usual. Madrid is more expensive then our beautifully cheap Salamanca, unfortunately.

We went back to the hostel after dinner to rest our feet and figure out what we were doing that night. As we were chilling, eliminating clubs and bars that were too far, there was a knock on the door. We opened and there were six Japanese girls (from our uni too!) who were given keys to our room. Yeahhh….some mix up. Em went down to reception to try and sort things out. Apparently there were no more empty rooms in the hostel so we were put in another 6 bed room next door where only three girls were staying. Not the best situation but we’re good sports. And we got some money back which was nice too. We were promised free beers too! Scoorreeee!!!

Plaza Mayor

When we went down to the bar, the receptionist/bartender was just leaving. No free beers. But she did offer to walk us to a nearby bar. Since we had no plans we decided to go with her. She was already talking four guys who were staying at the hostel so we all went together. We ended up just hanging out with them having a pretty chill night a bar, drinking beer and talking. The guys, whose names we never learned, were each from a different country. One was Norwegian, another Brazilian, Belgian (the Dutch part), and the last German. The Norwegian was apparently a doctor, although he couldn’t have been more than 26, and the Norwegian was finishing up a master’s in some sort of applied physics. Annnnd his girlfriend is American but studied in Kingston, at Queen’s. Some Canadian pride there. And that was the night.

The next morning we went to a near restaurant and had some pancakes and churros with chocolate. It was probably the best breakfast I have had since being in Spain. Then we spent the day doing touristy stuff. We walked through an outdoor book market and I bought some postcards, including one that had some had sewing on it and was from Sicily in the 80s, as well as some other old postcards. Then we went into this big building that used to be a post office but is now a centre for different art exhibits and the like. We also went  in the Casa America but there wasn’t much to see there, despite some very misleading photos.

Finally we went to the Prado Museum, which is one of the three main museums in Madrid that are apparently a must see. It houses many famous painters like Goya, Rafael and others that any creditable art history student should be able to name. It is free for students if you show national I.D. (which for me is my passport) and your student card. I really liked it. I love museums. I could stay there for hours, but we had to get going eventually.

The ride back was uneventful and tiring (in a good way). But it was a very fun trip with great people and awesome shoes. 😀 😀

Madrid at Night

(I just ate half a big bag of m&ms writing this. My poor teeth).
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