4:30am in London is definitely a sight to see. We were driven through the rain past an eerily dark Hyde Park by our super nice, Russian mobster taxi driver who was mysteriously really cool. We don’t know why he was so cool, since we barely talked to him, but he was one of those people that you you see and think, oh yeah, you’ve probably killed someone with your bare hands, but then that weirdly makes you feel very safe with him driving you around in the middle of the night.
Well, that was a weird tangent. Anyways… we got to London-Stansted (aka Not-in-London-Stansted) about an hour later, surviving one of the sketchiest bus rides ever. #YOLO, right? After waiting in some long lines and squishing our purses into our backpacks for the evil that is RyanAir law, we were off to Madrid!!
Our plan was to meet up with our BFF Robby and his high school friend, Stefan, at our hostel, but not until after Alexa got that weird feeling you get when you go back to a place for the first time after you lived there for a summer. All it takes is the metro lady telling you what the next stop is, and it all comes flooding back. Watch out.
A few stops later, and we arrived at one of our favorite hostels of the trip: Way Hostel! It’s in great location, right near Puerta del Sol, so we were easily able to shop, eat, and drink close to home *thumbs up!* Oh, and one of the receptionists was an Argentine, so that may or may not have boosted our opinion a bit.
After a heartwarming reunion with Robby in the hostel lobby (LOL, rhymes), we headed out for some lunch. We found the perfect spot to enjoy the first of many tapas-filled meals, almost always including: croquetas ((our) English translation: nug ballz), tortilla de patata, queso manchego, patatas bravas, and SANGRIA (you all know that one).
Filled with tapas and sangria, we walked to the Atocha train station where the WORLD’S LARGEST FAMILY OF TURTLES LIVED. It was disgusting. Picture this rock times a million and you’ll have a sense of how many turtles were in this place.
A quick nap later (stop judging – WE WERE IN SPAIN!), and we were off to the infamous bear statue in Puerta del Sol to meet up with one of Alexa’s friends from last summer, Jimmy. Jimmy was running Spanish-ly late, so we watched the plaza come alive with people at dusk. It’s definitely true that Spain during the day and at night are completely different.
We all walked over to El Tigre, which is a tapas haven: order drinks and they bring you food. LOTS of food. Needless to say, Alexa knew what she was doing by taking us there.
After being completely stuffed for the second time that day, we wandered around Mercado de San Miguel, which is a big fancy schmancy market that is a highly suggested stop for anyone visiting Madrid. It’s chock full o’ ham, cheese, wine, and a wide array of other goodies that will make you drool. If you hadn’t guessed, Spain’s big on food. In true college kid fashion, however, Robby remembered that it was Wednesday, which in Spain means Euromanía at 100 Montaditos! Which, translated to American understanding, means we could get more drinks for only 1 euro each! Decision: made.
Following that flurry of excitement, we wandered through Plaza Mayor to look at all the silly vendors throwing light up toys into the air and whistling at the passerby. Then, we managed to check off a Madrid tourism bucket list item that Alexa never got to the first time around – standing on THE central point of the city, from which all things are measured.
That’s about when our 4:30am wake-up (and all the food and drinks) kicked in, and we strolled home to drift off to sleep like happy little Spanish cherubs.
– Abi & Alexa