After months of planning for my first multi-city Europe trip, I finally landed in Madrid on the evening of 28th August. I bought
a three-day tourist ticket for the Madrid Metro despite the fact that I would be leaving the city in two days. The three-day ticket cost me just 19 Euros which was quite cheap for me as someone from London. I went straight to my Couch Surfing
hostSandra’s house in Calle de Ribadavia. Situated in a quiet residential neighbourhood, Sandra’s house was a good resting place to get over the partying at the centre. Sandra was a sweet lady and an active couch surfer. She had many interesting experiences to share such as having hosted up to 3 couch surfers at
once. She told me that, being in a city like Madrid, she gets a lot of requests to host fellow couch surfers and that she tries her best to help as many travellers as possible. We didn’t get to spend much time together due to her workload and my plans but it was my pleasure to stay at her place.
I had heard that Madrid was the city which never sleeps and it was time to
experience the same. I took the metro early in the morning from the nearest metro station called ‘Barrio del Pillar’. It took me about 18 mins to reach the heart of the city, a place called ‘Puerta del sol’- more commonly referred to as the ‘Sol’. As I came out of the underground metro, I found myself in a huge square full of people. I met up with my friend Alberto there. I had hosted Alberto back in Ipswich when he had been couch surfing there. Now that I was in his city, he had come to show me around. We met Johanna, an exchange student from Germany and all of us decided to go for breakfast. We went to one of the most famous rooftop restaurants in Madrid called ‘Circulo de Bellas’. We got to see a stunning view of the city from the top while having fresh Spanish breakfast.
Johanna decided to accompany us on our tour of the city. We visited the grand Royal Palace, an ancient Egyptian temple called the ‘Debod Temple’, the Plaza Mayor, the Spanish Parliament and many more important buildings and places within the city. You can’t stop yourself from loving the city of Madrid. It’s an endless tale of stunning architecture, happy faces and delightfully hot weather, all of which make the city all the more perfect. Johanna had to leave by midday and Alberto and I was left starving. We decided to go to the most famous backpackers bar in the city called the ‘El Tigre’. The reason why it was so famous among backpackers was the plate full of Tapas and a glass of beer available at 2.5 Euros only. The fact that we could get so much food along with a drink for just 2.5 Euros was unbelievable. Our leg breaking tour of the city ended at a huge park in the middle of the city which is famously known as the ‘El Retiro’. We sat down to talk about the most random things possible while sipping chilled beer in 32-degree weather. We had a lot to catch up on since our last meeting in U.K.
Being from a completely different part of the world, I used to get excited every time I heard stories about bullfighting. So when I came to Madrid I wanted to see the sport with my own eyes. I booked an advance ticket for a two-hour session in ‘Las Ventas’. But when Alberto told me about the dark reality of the sport, I decided not to watch it. What most people don’t know or what is never shown on television is that they don’t only tease the bull but they make several brutal cuts on the body of the bull before finally killing them cruelly. It had already been banned in Barcelona and a lot of protests was happening in Madrid as well. When I came to know the truth, I decided not to encourage the brutal merciless sport by even being a part of the audience. It went dark as we sat there discussing all this at the park but wait the night was young and the city which never sleeps was waiting for us.
We got a text from a local resident, Diana who wanted to meet us for some drinks and we were like, ‘why not’. We met Diana and went to a place called the ‘Tribunal’, also known as ‘Madrid’s Bar District’ among the youngsters. The place was amazing and we enjoyed being chased by sales people for free drinks being offered from different bars. The street was full of young tourists drinking, dancing and enjoying the nightlife. One could feel the electric vibe. The best possible way to know the street and its multicultural bars were to do a pub crawling. We decided to go to random pubs one by one and have some drinks. I saw a weird combination of Rum shots being offered for free with a pint of beer in almost every bar for the first time. A pint of beer was priced at around 3-4 Euros on an average. There was no stopping us and beginning with the Spanish bar, we went to an Irish bar and then many more bars one after the other. We finally decided to settle down at an Arabian bar to smoke sheesha and have some drinks.
Diana was a fun person to hang out with. We stayed there till 5 in the morning just drinking and talking. Diana told me that she visits Madrid quite often to attend couch surfing events and to meet travellers from all over the world. I liked the fact how being in a city like Madrid was the best way to make friends from all over the world. You don’t have to host anyone or be the guest; you could just come around to meet new people. We spoke about our good, bad couch surfing and travel experiences. They gave me tips on what I should do on my last day in the city. After a great day of exploring the city and an amazing night out, we finally bade farewell to each other at 5:30 am.
I will share the experiences from my second (and also the last day at Madrid) and the full album of the city in my posts. Madrid had been my first stop on my long trip to Europe and the first day there certainly could not have been any better. On my way back to Sandra’s place, I was thinking about how amazing the life of travel is. You don’t expect a lot of things to happen but things have a wonderful way of working out. All I had planned before coming to Madrid was to meet Alberto. The rest of the people I met contacted me and we met within a span of a few hours to have so much fun. If you are open minded and ready to be spontaneous, there is no limit to the amount of fun which you can have. I will never forget that amazing night in Madrid. I had left for Barcelona the next night and so technically speaking, this had been my only night in Madrid and thanks to such wonderful people; Madrid was totally worth the stories. Dear Readers, the fun doesn’t end here. Do wait till I get to my second day in Madrid and until then, keep wandering.