Day 8: Madrid
Room darkening blinds are a wonderful thing! Except for when you accidentally sleep until 1pm. Oops! Once we got moving we headed to the train station which was about an 8 minute walk from our hotel. The train was only 2 Euro’s to get into the city vs. a 25 Euro cab ride. Round-trip it took about 45 minutes and included switching trains. We were very proud of ourselves for being able to navigate the public transportation system of Madrid (although it was really easy!).
Once in the city, we noticed a brisk feeling in the air. It was around 80-85 degrees most of the week. This day the temperature had dropped to the 60’s. I was glad I brought my rain jacket when an unexpected rain shower popped up. From the stop we walked to El Tigre – another recommendation from a friend. El Tigre was very unique and one of our favorite places. We were instructed to order a “mini” which is really just a huge beer. With the “mini” also comes three very large plates of food – for free! Whenever you order another drink…poof…more plates of food appear. There was only one man working this entire operation and he was basically my hero. I’ve never seen someone make food, pour drinks, and serve his customers at such a warp speed. The floor of the restaurant is covered in napkins and food that people just throw on the floor. You have to get passed that part, but it was totally worth it. For 12 Euro and 4 cervezas, we were completely stuffed by the time we left. It was a very humble hole-in-the-wall that I think MRH would have preferred to eat at every single night. El Tigre has three locations, which all happen to be on the same street, some that are 1 or 2 doors down from each other. I guess it’s just that popular! The man at the bar told us we were allowed to take our beers with us, so we took our remaining beers and hit the streets. It felt so wrong walking down the road with a brew, but hey, when in Spain!
We walked down Gran Via – one of the most popular streets in Madrid which has many shops and restaurants. We popped in H&M where I bought a sweater. I know…completely ridiculous to buy something in Spain when you can buy it in Charlotte, but it was cute…and cheap!
From Gran Via we walked to El Temple Debod. This temple was a gift from Egypt that was brought over piece by piece and assembled in Madrid. It sat in the middle of a large park and had a big founding in the back with a beautiful view overlooking the city. We toured the inside of the temple and it was so crazy to see the carvings on the inside of the temple walls. All of the history in Spain is completely amazing.
Dark clouds started to roll in so we headed back to el tren. Unfortunately along the walk, it started to walk. Lucky for me, I brought my rain jacket. Unlucky for Matt, he did not. We were close to the station and made it in perfect timing to catch a train back to our hotel. We arrived back around 9pm and FaceTimed our families. I was even able to watch some of the USC/UCF (Go Gamecocks!) football thanks to Dad’s iPad.
We got showers and caught a cab back into the city around 11pm. This was our latest time out but we felt that we’d be ok to eat since it seemed like Madrid never sleeps. To our dismay, most places were closed or not serving dinner by the time we got into the city. We wandered down La Cava Baja (long street with bars and restaurants) for about thirty minutes when I finally told Matt to just pick a place because I was starving and starting to get ornery. We sat down at a place and then decided nothing looked good on the menu. We made a quick exit without telling anyone were leaving. We both felt guilty and like we had done something wrong, but I’m not really sure why. We picked another place and had a rude waiter who didn’t say a word to us. We named him Lard. When he finally was kind enough to take our order (after sitting at the table for 20 minutes) he informed us that they would be closing in 20 minutes. He never brought us our wine and we were just over him so we paid the bartender for our bottle of water and peaced out.
At this point we were starving and tired and frustrated, so we went back to old trusty, El Mercado de San Miguel. Most places were closed/closing but we found some leftover paella and some vino. After all of our previous strike=outs we figured this was a sign and we should head back to the hotel. We went to bed at 2am and were back up at 6am to catch a flight back to