Madrid – The City That Never Sleeps (Day 2)

    When I finally returned to Sandra’s place at about 6 am after an amazing first day and night in Madrid, I was not sure of how to spend the second day and last day in the city of Madrid. Physically, I just wanted to crash into bed and never get up but I did not want to waste my last day sleeping in bed. I took a 4-hour short power nap to boost myself up and got ready for my second day. I was supposed to meet Alberto at ‘Sol’. Luckily it was a Sunday and I got to know that there would be a flea market at a famous street of Madrid called the ‘El Rastro’. The El Rastro flea market is one of the main tourist attractions in Madrid. The street was flooded with locals as well as travellers. A great variety of products could be seen there: antiques, clothes, jewellery, handbags and even old unused items. The closest metro to reach to the street station was at Line 5 called the ‘La Latina’.

    Before reaching El Rastro, I was supposed to be meeting another special person named Adela. Adela was a local resident and fellow couch surfer who had contacted me to meet up to show me the city. It was great to meet her; she was an inspiring traveller. We met Alberto and left for El Rastro. It was almost mid-day and the sun was right above our heads making it quite difficult to explore the crowded market, but our enthusiasm kept us going. Adela and Alberto suggested that we should try out some ‘Tostas’ in the most famous eatery in El Rastro. Tostas is an open-faced sandwich with only one slice of bread and one or two food/meat items on top. Right in the middle of all the hustle of El Rastro market, there was a huge queue waiting to go inside the single-door small shop. That was enough for me to believe that this place was indeed famous. The feeling of eating a cold open-faced sandwich sitting on the street in a 35-degree temperature felt really unique.

    Walking away from the chaos post the delicious Tostas, we were back in form and our next stop was the ‘Reina Sofia Museum’. The Sofia museum is Spain’s national museum and it has free entry on Sundays. I am not really a museum kind of person (as I IMG_20150830_142021have mentioned in my earlier posts), but there was a reason why I agreed to go there. The museum showcases the works of many Spanish as well as international artists and among those; there was one special artist for whom I was really there. We went through the museum floor by floor, exploring great works of painters like the famous Salvador Dali, Pierre Bonnard and many others. I lost Adela and Alberto somewhere in the maze of that building but I kept looking for something and finally as I turned to my right on the second floor, I saw a huge crowd at a particular painting. It was there right in front of me, the one and only ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso. This was the first time that I was seeing the work of Picasso I had heard so much about and now it was right there in front of me. It was the kind of modern art which was way beyond my understanding, but Alberto explained to me the story behind the painting and I realised why modern art is not everybody’s cup of tea.

    Due to a late start in the morning, the day was pretty short for us. Alberto had to leave soon after so we had some more Tapas and Beer at a local bar and bid farewell to each other. I thanked him for being there both the days and making my stay in Madrid very memorable. Adela and I were too tired to walk and my head was still heavy from the last night’s rum and beer combinations. We decided to go back to the Central Park-‘El Retiro’. Adela had returned from a long backpacking trip a few days back so she had a lot of stories to tell so the evening went great. We then had another couch surfer named Heather join us. She was doing AuPair in Madrid and had a day off to meet more people in the city and we were lucky enough to be there. You must be smirking at how many times I have mentioned ‘couch surfing’ within the blog posts about the two-day trip and how many fellow couch surfers I got to meet within these two days. That’s the beauty of couch surfing and that’s why I love it and always encourage people to use it. (Find more tips about couch surfing in my post here).

    So the three of us were just catching up when the biggest twist in the game came. Right then, a storm hit the city and suddenly everyone started running aimlessly like the headless chicken. The massive El Retiro Park was suddenly full of dust and trees started uprooting. We ran from the park and towards the main road but the storm was getting stronger. With a 32 degree temperature a few hours ago, we certainly weren’t expecting such a sudden storm so we were not prepared for rain or any such circumstance at all. It started to rain heavily and we found shelter somewhere on the way. We looked at each other and started laughing at what had just happened within the last 15 minutes. It was nice to have some change in the hot weather and I loved it because sudden rains are my favourite. We slowly made our way back to the ‘Sol’ square and Adela suggested a restaurant to have some evening snacks and wait for the rain to settle down. I had to catch my transportation to Barcelona on the same night so I had to say goodbye to those amazing people.  We took some pictures together and hoped that we would all get to meet in some other part of the world someday. I took a Bla Bla car at 12 in the night to Barcelona. (You can find more about my Barcelona trip in my earlier post here.)

    It was a two-day short stay in the city of Madrid but the trip gave me memories to cherish all my life. On my way to Barcelona, I pondered over all the memories from the last two days and they made me smile in glee. Within the two days, I had slept for only 4 hours and was tired like never before despite all the happiness I felt as I left the city. I had no regrets or complain of not having been able to do a specific thing. There was only satisfaction and excitement for my next destination i.e. the glorious city of Barcelona.

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