ExSpainentially Bueno

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by

Satisfied post-paella

And this is wintertime

Madrid is gorgeous. Granted that might be simply because it was above freezing, but still, very pretty. I wandered around the city most of the day seeing the sights and such. But one thing that I seemed to constantly notice were pharmacies. They were everywhere. Literally every block you’d see their green cross lit up with farmacia in bold underneath it. I’m not sure if these people are just really susceptible to those Levitra ads or what, but it seems so unnecessary. Anyway, for lunch I went to a restaurant where I just read a book and ate. After a little bit, I noticed that the girls behind me who had been chatting at a rapid pace were trying to get my attention. One asked in broken English, “What book you reading?” I told her and then asked if they were Spaniards. Turns out they’re Sicilians. And let me tell you, their Italian is gibberish. Shear gibberish. Not that I really have any great capability with Italiano anymore, but I can usually understand bits and pieces of it. This time I understood absolutely nothing. And that’s obviously their fault.

Satisfied post-paella

That night I met up with the always captivating, Andrei Hahn. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s another Gustie studying in Madrid (oh, we’re everywhere). Our first stop was a statue of a bear trying to snag some berries from a small tree. Totally makes sense as a symbol of a city. From there, we went to a bar, watched some soccer, reminisced, and just chatted about our experiences abroad. Twas fantastic. After that, we wandered the streets of Madrid trying to find a place to eat. Through the course of this process, we somehow managed to wind up in the same massive square like seven times. Eventually, we found a paella joint (Spanish rice and seafood) which was wonderful. After this, it was getting late and time to be heading back to the hostel. Let the complaining begin.

Hostels. Such unique places. They can either be incredible or awful (possibly even terrifying if you watch too many horror movies). This time, I got the latter. I didn’t have too much against the actual place itself (aside from the funky odor that came with the room), but the kids I shared the place with are a whole ‘nother story. The first night I can tell the lights are off in the room, so I try to sneak in quietly. All of a sudden, I hear this uhhhhhhh from just a little ways to my left. It sounded like some kind of ancient beast had just awoken. Come to find out, it’s just a girl puking. This proceeded to continue for AGES. Her friends were “taking care of her,” but they weren’t in the best of states either. Most of it was just, “Be quiet Stacy or we’ll throw you in the bathroom.” Sadly, these were idle threats. Sigh.

Swords Galore

The next morning I took a bus to Toledo. This place is wicked awesome. It’s an old medieval town on a hill. And they have shops that sell swords everywhere. Some are ordained with dragon hilts and others are plated in gold (“I love gooooold,” said in a Dutch accent; Goldmember, anyone?). It was sweet. After a while, I found a nice park. From there, I had a gorgeous view of a river, hills, and some far-off villas. But just below, you could see a crag hanging out over the river (Mom, now is the time that you should stop reading and move on to the next paragraph). With such a perfect vantage point “easily” accessible, I decided to jump the fence and make my way carefully down. It was exhilarating and totally worth it. After spending a couple days constantly surrounded by people, it was nice to be somewhere so beautiful and so secluded. Eventually after exploring the city a bit more, I headed back to Madrid.


That night I went to a Spanish bar to watch the Barcelona match (aka watch Messi make people look foolish). While there, I got some tapas as is customary. Tapas are little bite size snack deals that usually consist of some kind of meat, cheese, vegetables, etc. on top of a small piece of bread. Apparently, it got its name (which means “to cover”) because originally it was put on top of drinks in order to keep out the fruit flies (I didn’t witness anyone doing this, but in fairness, I also didn’t witness any fruit flies). The ones I ordered were decked with salmon and shrimp. Delectable. Near the end of the match, I had to go to the bathroom and ran into a bit of a problem. I had no idea which one was the men’s and which was the women’s. Slowly pushing open each door, I saw that there were no urinals in either (the usual telltale sign). Without this indicator, I decided to randomly choose the one that said caballeros. I went into the stall and I knew I made the right choice. How, you ask? There was pee on the seat. Classic men.

After this, it was back to the hostel for yet another night. My roomies have changed but they still suck. It’s one thing to make the mistake of drinking too much, but quite another to blatantly disrespect the seven other people in the room. Story time. So I’m sleeping because I have to get up in the morning for my flight. In the recesses of my mind, I hear a phone go off. The girl across from me is slow to answer it, but I’ll cut her some slack, it’s one in the morning and maybe her phone doesn’t have a vibrate option. But then she proceeds to answer the phone. My ever-polite internal monologue is, “Okay, just go outside and please be quiet on your way back in.” But no, what does she do? She fricking has a full blown conversation for about 20 minutes in a voice that sounds like a megaphone in what had previously been utter silence. Me, being the pansy I am (and not knowing how to say, “Would you kindly hang up your cell phone” or something else just as pleasant as that in Spanish), didn’t say anything. I just endured her (and her friend on the other end who must have been yelling) hundred mile per hour jabbering. Eventually though, I got to sleep.

Next up, London.


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