Since we found out we would be going to Madrid last week, I didn’t have any time to research it at all. I had NO idea what to expect, what I would find, what to see….nada. Honestly, I’ve found it a bit of a cool and refreshing change from how I usually travel. Today Dewey had to work (the reason we are here) so I set out on my own. I had not agenda, no schedule, nothing. I just wandered (and I say wander because I really hate to look at a paper map on the street and I have no data roaming here so I was using the force to guide me. You can guess how well that works.).
In my wanderings I stumbled upon a beautiful park, a quaint antique store, a Desigual store (my favourite designer in the world), the super cool market where we met friends for drinks last night, Mercado de San Miguel (foodie HEAVEN), many statues, monuments, etc, quite a few shopping streets and much more. Here are a few things that have struck me while I’ve been roaming. When you don’t speak the language and you are out by yourself, you have a lot of time to think.
- Sooooo many people here smoke. You can’t sit outside at a restaurant or on a bench without being surrounded with smokers. I’m getting a bit of a cold so it bothers me more than usual. I’ve found in my travels that more people in Europe seem to smoke than in Canada and the US.
- I would not want to drive here (Madrid). The streets are very busy and there are lots of roundabouts. From what I can tell, driving at a high rate of speed towards the car in front of you in the roundabout and laying on your horn is the usual mode of driving.
- Tons of people have dogs. Mostly of the small variety which leaves me praying that I don’t accidentally step on one and squish their little heads. Crowds + tiny dogs = squished dogs.
- Lots of people ride bicycles in the aforementioned traffic. I worry for their heads just as much as I worry about the dogs in my comment above. SQUISHED.
- Caprese salad should NEVER EVER be served warm. I found this out during lunch when I ordered it because it was the only thing I could understand on the menu in spanish. Note to self….bring translation book next time.
- Free wifi is not that easy to find (though I did make the discover that there IS free Wifi in many places and it is easily found with the Gowex Free Wifi app. Note: It looks like an app only for their customers but it isn’t. Just register as a new user and put in your phone number at home. The app will work right away and you are in.
- Hotels in Spain, like hotels in Paris, seem to be washcloth haters. HOW DO PEOPLE HERE WASH THEIR FACE? HOW?
- Jet lag sucks. That is not a Madrid thing, it’s just the truth. It is 5pm and I want to go to bed. Getting up at 9am here (~2 am at home) was really, really hard.
- I’m not sure how easy it would be to travel with strict dietary restrictions. I had been doing pretty well avoiding gluten but here I am eating all the bread. The language barrier just seems to great (plus the bread is GOOD).
Have you ever been to Madrid? If so, what are your favourite things to do and see? We have a few more days to sight see before we head home. We are doing a foodie wine & tapas tour tomorrow night but otherwise are wide open for suggestions!