I can't believe my February break has already come and gone. I put off making concrete plans for the longest time and then I literally just showed up to the SNCF boutique when the kids going to Madrid were there buying their tickets. Hey, they said anyone could come! Most of this crew was the same people I went to Barcelona with, so I felt comfortable enough to literally force myself on them.
We took the train Saturday morning and got in just in time for evening activities. The first night, we went to this nice restaurant for tapas called Lateral. Apparently it's a local chain, but based off the ambiance and popularity, I don't think it has lost its soul quite yet. I liked the tapas at Lateral and would recommend it, but I wasn't blown out of the water. I think I prefer my tapas with less bread and more substance, but maybe that's just how Spanish tapas are? If I hadn't been thinking about ChaChaCha and other tapas places back home the whole time, I probably would've really liked it. Sadly, I can never help but compare. Our bill came out reasonable (about 13E with sangria), as it always can at tapas and dim sum spots. But I probably could've eaten more and gotten a less reasonable price tag at the end.
After dinner we went back to our hostel called Uhostel. I was rather pleased by the hostel I has absolutely no part in choosing. Everything was there to have an enjoyable hostel experience: clean bathrooms, lockers, great showers with warm water and perfect water pressure, a nice lounge and dining area, and a kitchen. I wish my traveling crew had taken advantage of the kitchen facilities, but looking around a lot of the other guests did and honestly it looked like they were having multiple course dinner parties. All in all, it was a fun and welcoming atmosphere, well besides the concierge that has a stick up her butt.
We pregamed in the dining room until 12pm when they kicked us out since they don't have a bar license. When we finally left probably around 1am (so Spanish to start that late, right?) and headed to Kapital. Kapital is this huge 7 story club in Madrid. Now, from my previous experiences in clubs, they aren't exactly my cup of tea. So I aggressively drank to prepare myself for this venture. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough pregaming to prepare me for the prices-- Kapital essentially robbed me: 20E entry, 2E coat check, 5E because I was feeling a little sick.....kill me. I must admit that I did have fun at Kapital. The thing about Kapital is that it sounds fun saying there are 7 floors, but just don't waste your time on any floor but the first. That's where the main music is, the most people, the fun lights, the violent yet refreshing blows of white wind. Although I had fun, I didn't like it enough to say I'd ever go back. It was expensive and exclusively American (not even general foreigners like it was in Barcelona). If you're not a club person and on a budget, you can definitely avoid this. Going to local bars would be a perfectly reasonable choice and you'd probably be more peppy the next day than I was after I dragged my ass home on the metro at 6 in the morning.
Stole this from my friend Morgan because I never got my picture timed right with the strob
Since I only got 4 hours of sleep the next day, pretty much everything I did was a major struggle. The main thing we did that day was go to the Reina Sofia. I apparently was the only person out of my group that was disappointed, but I really wasn't impressed.The set up of the museum seemed confusing, I didn't like the architecture which usually is better in contemporary/modern art museums, and I didn't like how all the pieces were put up. However, I did stand in front of the Guernica for an absurd amt of time. It's always funny getting to see a piece you've studied so many times. It really is a great piece.
The next day we went to the Prada, which is like the Louvre of Madrid. The whole thing was pretty overwhelming, but I did enjoy this museum. My favorite moments you may ask? Velázquez's Las Meninas and Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son obviously. I liked Goya's so much that is the only postcard I bought in all of Madrid and it's currently propped up in front of me in my room. It's just so romantic and pretty right?
For lunch, we went to this farmer's market that is just as much of a farmer's market as the SF ferry building farmer's market. Swanky as fuck, but no farmers in sight. Unless their urban organic farmers, maybe they were invited. Instead, there was a million different food and restaurant vendors (see, I told you it was like the ferry building). The quality of all the food there was so yummy, that we just couldn't stop eating. I got paella, this questionable looking but ended up being super yummy "gulas al ajillo" tapas, and the classic spanish ometette. YUMMY IN MY TUMMY! For dinner, we met up with Faith and her friend for more tapas. When we met them at the train station her friend asked if we were ok with going someplace "not so touristic." Obviously we were into the idea. Besides the farmers market, everything I had eaten in Madrid was touristy, oily, and made me want to barf. To get there, we passed through many relatively sketchy areas where she warned us people would be offer us weed. When we finally arrived, it was this cute little restaurant that she clearly frequented often. We told her to just order the table anything she thought would be good because we're all about trying new things (how adventurous student abroad!). A whole assortment of things came out, and I think the one I liked the best ended up having blood sausage in it. Sue me ok, I don't care what you think. It was good.
I also stole this picture of me--Look it's the paella!
In conclusion, Madrid for my February break was a lot of fun. But I'm saying BYE to Spain for at least this semester. It was hard not being able to speak the language, and surprisingly the Spanish weren't quite as forgiving of our American ignorance as I would have assumed and there are even less people there who speak English than France! Coming back to Francophonie was lifesaving for me. But who knows, maybe after I take Spanish 101 next semester, I'll be able to come back and feel perfectly at home!