Work week #6

November 5-8th, 2012

At some point during the week, my colleague, Ascen, offered Amissa and I a ride to Madrid. She would leave early Saturday morning and return the same night. I decided to jump on the offer but started looking into Friday buses to Madrid. Thursday night was hectic packing and planning for Friday’s trip to Madrid. We booked a hostel and ended up getting only four hours of sleep.

Friday, November 9th, 2012

We woke at 5 a.m., packed our bocadillos, and rushed to the bus station. We caught the 6 a.m. bus to Albacete. The tickets cost nearly €9. I fell asleep for the whole two-hour ride.  We exited the bus feeling groggy and nauseous. I purchased two tickets to Madrid from the Alsa window for about €15. The bus would leave at 12:30 p.m. giving us four hours to explore Albacete.

We sat in the bus station enduring power outages and rainstorms. Amissa took a short nap.  An hour and a Cola Cao later, Amissa was ready to see the city. The rain had gone away by now. The force of the city center drew us in. We saw many sites but the most impressive were the murals painted inside the cathedral. Upon entering Albacete’s cathedral the elaborately painted walls immediately commanded our attention. Life sized paintings of the pits of hell and bible stories surrounded us. We walked as far as the Plaza del Toros then decided to return back to the bus station taking pictures along the way.

The three-hour bus ride to Madrid gave us time to recover sleep. Amissa was already very beat. Worth noting, we saw one of the famous Madrid bull signs.  We exited the bus station and once again relied on instincts to lead us to the city center. We were about a mile and a half away from our hostel. On the walk along the bus station Atocha, we encountered a large mysterious amount of scattered garbage. Most of it was old shoes, clothes, broken frames, and lamps but we did happen to find a set of photographs from the 1960’s.  By 4:30, we had reached No Name City Hostel. This would be our first hostel experience.  We payed about €15 each and a €30 deposit.  Amissa took a nap. I anxiously waited to explore the city. We left the hostel around 6. It was raining.

At this point, the smartest thing for us to do would be to take advantage of the Prado’s free admission. We saw many masterpieces mostly from the middle ages.  Sadly, the  museum closed early and we missed all of the famous Goya paintings.  We walked north towards El Tigre, a tapa bar that a friend recommended. We arrived at the bar but it was too crowded. Instead, we ate at a pizza joint. Our next stop would be Plaza del Sol. On a street leading to the plaza, we saw many prostitutes. We rushed through many of these sites because it was dark, my shoes were soaked, and I couldn’t take proper pictures.

Walking towards Plaza Mayor, we stumbled upon some great Spanish folkloric street music. A group of elderly woman danced around in a circle — it was very entertaining.  Plaza Mayor was awesome.  We remembered the scene in Rick Steeve’s Europe where Rick lounges at a table eating jamon and drinking wine inside the Plaza Mayor. We headed back to the hostel. The night was young but we felt old. At the hostel, Amissa took a shower.  We explored the hostel and met some friendly people in the kitchen — they were from Mexico, Argentina, Austria, and Poland. We went to bed around midnight.  Our hostel roommates who we had never seen before arrived late in the night.

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