If you follow me on Twitter [which you honestly shouldn’t because it’s a mess] you’ve probably noticed that my first day in Madrid was… pretty awkward. Now, an awkward day doesn’t necessarily make for a bad day, but it definitely isn’t ideal. This was the first stop in my three-city Southern Europe Easter extravaganza, by which I mean I booked a couple of tickets and hostels, stuffed a bunch of clothes in my trusty old backpack, and went running around Spain and Portugal on my own for a week.
Anyway, my flight [via Vueling] was at 13:00. I woke up at a reasonable hour, got to the airport at a reasonable hour, and forgot to take out all my liquids before going through security again. Whoops. I managed to find my way to my hostel [Living Mad] after some public transportation mishaps, check in [awkwardly, because I can’t open doors for some reason] and take a quick breather. Living Mad is clean, centrally located, and hosts a variety of activities for guests, so if you’re looking for a hostel in the area, definitely keep it in mind!
Anyway, after a while I decided to get off my ass and take a walk. I went straight to Puerta del Sol, aka Madrid’s answer to Times Square. Every major city has one.
It’s bustling at pretty much every hour of the day with tourists, tour people, and creepy, legally safe knock-offs of various cartoon characters that will continue to haunt your dreams long after you’ve left. Also, it’s home to that oh-so-iconic statue of the bear and the strawberry tree, aka something that’s near impossible to photography without wayward tourists jumping into the frame.
From there, I basically picked a road and walked along it until I wound up at Puerta del Sol again. I rinsed and repeated this continually, since it was, like, 4 PM and I had no particular goals for the day. It was just one of those travel days, you know? It was basically just a chill way to get my bearings more and snap some pics, and I found some neat stuff, like a massive bookstore and Museo de Jamon, aka the ham emporium. [Note: I did not partake in any ham from the ham emporium.]
Madrid is quite unique architecturally speaking, managing to toe the line between kooky and colorful with its IMPOSSIBLE TO NAVIGATE, tightly pressed roads and that crisp, structured classic European look with perfectly white buildings and delicate facades. You know, all of that Paris stuff.
Still, Madrid’s got a heart full of weird, which is aptly represented by… these legs?? I meant more wacky street art in general, but sure, here ya go.
Since it was the week of Easter and that shit gets pretty big in traditionally Catholic countries, I stumbled across some early festivities. I actually have no idea if they were early or not because the extent of my Easter experience has always been limited to my annual consumption of those disgusting chocolate eggs and occasionally getting way too competitive in egg hunts for children. Madrid did something similar with this Jesus parade [not shown: the accompanying loud, thumping drum music that made me initially think the apocalypse was imminent.]
Also, look, these people that I thought were the KKK at first! They’re really just Catholic brotherhood [???] people wearing capirotes for the Easter celebrations, according to a Wikipedia search I did just now, but I’m not afraid to admit that I was taken aback at first.
Anyway, I eventually managed to find my way back to Puerta del Sol, and from there, back to the hostel. Navigational skills level up! Just kidding, I’ve yet to find a city I haven’t been able to get hopelessly lost in. Still, that’s it for today’s blog post—keep an eye out for the rest of this trip’s diaries over the next few weeks!
Have you ever been to Madrid? How does it compare to other cities in Spain?