As I sat on Madrid’s clean, efficient and uncrowded metro system to the airport, it dawned on me that you could sum up my stay in the city with just three things; tequila shots, debilitating hangovers and Retiro Park. I told this to my new Australian friend Jacqui, who turned to me and said matter-of-factly “well then now you know what it’s like to live in Madrid”.
When I arrived in the hostel on Tuesday evening I had no plans and no friends. There was an obvious remedy for that; the daily pub crawl run by the hostel. It went by several bars where you were provided with free shots and then delivered you at a nightclub, considerably inebriated, to embarrass yourself in front of a bunch of complete strangers. By dancing I mean. And generally being wasted. Throughout the night I made a bunch of new BFFs, from Australia, Canada, the USA, Italy and Guatemala. The latter of which was running the event so kept sneaking me free shots from the bar, drinks I really didn’t need… After being asked to leave the salsa club because of a misunderstanding involving this other drunk Briton (who I was only trying to help, naturally) I ended up wandering the streets of Madrid for hours looking for pizza with two Americans. Returning to the hostel at 6am meant I slept till 3. And how I felt upon waking was quite special. It was quite exquisitely horrendous…
Madrid isn’t the most comforting place for someone with a hangover. The heat in the afternoon was an absolutely miserable 35℃. But my desire to see the city was pretty great so I manned up and got out of bed. For some reason I had naively thought there wasn’t a lot to see in Madrid. Not many of my friends had been – everyone seemed to head for Barcelona and skip the capital. So I was genuinely amazed by how incredible this city was. The buildings are huge and ornate; architectural masterpiece abound in every direction. The parks are beautiful, manicured and varied. The atmosphere in the plazas and narrow streets was lively and inviting. And there were guapos and guapas everywhere! I’ve been to numerous European capitals but Madrid really blew me away. Just three days here and it has easily become one of my favourites!
I reckon what made me enjoy my time here so much was the people I met. Fun loving, completely chilled out and excited to be here made for a great atmosphere on the nights out and also whilst hungover in the park the next day. I went on a second night out with some of the hostel staff and friends who had lived in the city for some time. The ridiculous stories that arose from that night simply aren’t suitable for my parents to read, so I’ll have to keep them to my travel journal for now! 😆
To satiate my folks I should mention I did do some cultural things whilst in Madrid. I went on a walking tour and learnt about how Queen Isabel II married her gay cousin and so had 12 kids probably from 12 different men, and how people in the 1500s dealt with having poo thrown at them from upstairs windows. See? Backpacking around Europe can to be a richly educational and cultural experience!
It did seem a shame to spend so much of my time in Madrid hungover, cowering from the bright sun and watching Bad Grampa in the hostel. But I’ve had an awesome time, made some cool new friends, and of course I can always return and check out those ridiculously famous art museums another time 😜