Travel to Madrid and Toledo, Spain

Leaving La Alberca proved to be difficult. As everyone said goodbye there were many tears. We all gathered on the bus and waved goodbye as we slumped into our 4 hour journey back to Madrid.

Madrid was HOT upon arrival and Helen, Serian and I hiked to the hostel to unload our things with an intention of napping a bit before our night out. Helen and I were so irate when we arrived and discovered that our beds had been moved to the sister hostel as we didn’t reconfirm our reservation. We had not been told we had to do this and we were beyond exhausted so I could do nothing but laugh and say ok get me to this other place before I fall over and die. Helen mumbled several obscenities in her Glasgow accent and on our way out the door we bumped into my new best friend Joaquin Sevillano. A random hookup via made for a thrilling two days. Joaquin is in Landscape Architecture at Guelph and lives in Spain for a month or so every summer so we bumped into each other and set out to find a place to stay with Helen. He had no place to stay for the night and suggested the three of us share a 2 bedroom apartment at a two star hotel on the next floor up in the same building. Knocked on the door and we were met by an evil “witch women” as Helen so finely put it. She freaked out because I was sitting on the floor (I thought better than dying on her front door). Helen and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and decided to definitely not stay there for the evening. Joaquin stayed their on the solo the first night, I assume he enjoys witches like that short stubby one from Madrid.

Helen and I were off hiking to our new sibling hostel and arrived in no time. We were met with a broken elevator and had to lug our luggage up 4 flights of stairs. Helen again was mumbling Scottish obscenities while I tried to prevent myself from falling over dead. We threw our stuff into our rooms and met up with Borjas, Serian and Joaquin at the Opera metro station. We made our way to an outdoor spot on the street that was bustling with busy and brilliant street side singers. I had a beer and we all shared tortilla and potatoes bravas. We then walked to a large square and sat out for about an hour sipping on 2 jugs of Sangria between the 5 of us. The best memory I have of this moment of our evening is the couple sitting behind us snogging as if they had 1 hour left on earth. We all got up and wandered around the city and got to bed by 1am.

In the morning I bid Helen goodbye whilst holding back tears as she headed to Barcelona. I met Serian and Joaquin at their building and the three of us got pleasantly lost within the metro and bus station approximately 5 and 1/2 times. The bus trip was approximately one hour to Toledo and we all chatted and napped a bit along the way. Toledo has a lot of character…the entire city is made up of winding streets with strips of canvas hung above to create shade for pedestrians. The entire city sounds of birds…thousands of birds everywhere that sort of look like bats, swooping in circles all around the plaza and city.

We made our way to Santa Iglesia Catedral Pronada the cities famous Cathedral. HOLY TOLEDO the home of El Greco and a trilogy of peaceful religions, Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Cathedral is mind blowing, there are several small rooms throughout the church that specialize in Catholic Cardinal attire. The display of ornate hand stitched garments and papal hats were stunning. We also checked out a room of gold that looked similar to the Cistine Chapel and was lined by portraits of all of the Cardinals of the region back to its conception. The cathedral is covered in ornate sculpture one in particular is an ascent from heaven which is made of white marble with rods of gold representing holy light from God. After the Cathedral we attempted to find the famous Synagogue which was hopeless. We all stood in the street starving and decided to imagine a beautiful Jewish monument and pretended we saw it in person to satisfy our hunger. Lunch was a simple tapas plate of fried eggs, salad, sausage, ham and fries.

Toledo can be summed up as Marzipan cathedral sculptures the size of small cars in the bakery shops. Knives, swords and basically anything sharp can be purchased in this hill top city. The tourism selling point is Medieval stabbing and Don Quijote who appears as a sculpture throughout the city. Mullets are also everywhere…and by everywhere I mean even babies in Spain are born with mullets…crazy!

Back in Madrid Joaquin and I went out for dinner at a great little restaurant called Don Quijote of all things! Crazy how in Europe you can meet people instantly and become best of friends. I had a red bean and white rice stew to start and veal meatballs with sauce of Madrid for my main. I still don’t understand students who come to Europe and eat bread every day out of a supermarket…ew. Get out there and eat up the city. They all taste different! Joaquin got a spot in the hostel I was staying in but had to take an “emergency bed” in the common room which was a bit wild but only 11 euros which is stellar on the wallet. We arrived back from dinner and the common room hours had just ended and you aren’t allowed to eat or drink inside your room. So we had to sneak into one of the bathrooms in the dark, lock the door and drink a bottle of white wine together out of small tea cups. The most ridiculous things such as this, funny predicaments, are never forgotten.

He and I went out on the town and received many a flyer as we passed by. One of the flyers solicited a free shot and free entry so we tested the place and went in. We were a tad disappointed as the free shot came from a mystery beaker with no label and looked like squeezed tomatoes. Thank God Joaquin speaks Spanish as we told the bartender we were not about to drink something as sketchy as that and we were outta there. We stopped by a trendy little bar and sat chatting while singing to Bjork which was beating through the spot and sipped on a large glass of Baileys on the rocks. At 1am we left and headed across the street to the infamous Shower Bar. This place is so odd. The concept is that people can dress up in costume and get into a shower and everyone watches them get soaked and dance around. We saw a crazy black man dance as though his legs were on speed, this was the high point of the evening. We walked home at around 2am and at the Opera square I saw this nasty puddle of sick and pointed and said “Potatoes Bravas.” A herd of young hip Spanish ladies heard me and decided to yell at the top of their lungs like Zena warrior princess. This was a hilarious moment indeed.

In the morning I said goodbye to another new friend as he took a bus back to Valencia. I am now sitting on a bench in the Palace Gardens between two statues of Fernando the 1st and Sancha of Leon. I try to write at historical monuments, perhaps seeking inspiration from various structural muses. On the walk back to the hostel I came across a bright orange flyer for a street corner restaurant. The spot is called Restaurante Munoz and the flyer prominently displays two cute baby pigs and lambs. LOST IN TRANSLATION…”We serve cute baby animals! Come and enjoy our specialties!” I think for some reason the English translation missed what the Spanish was trying to say.

I had a great hassle getting to the airport as the pink line 8 metro was under construction starting this morning for 3 months! My luck! I had to get off the metro after just one stop and get onto a bus which dropped me off at another stop where I got onto another metro to the airport in which I had to get onto an Aerobus to Terminal 4. So much lugging around all day. I checked in Vueling and got my ticket all set to go for my 55 minute flight to Lisboa. Madrid airport is by far the most beautiful airport I have ever been in. The floors are all made of a sandy marble and the architecture of the building is neo modern. Right beside my terminal for departure was an amazing wine bar with leather seats and local musicians drumming away. I sat and read a British Celebrity trash magazine the girls from London gave me in Madrid. I also bought the magazine Tendencias Fashion, a glimpse into the current crazy style of Spain as a last adios to my 2 1/2 weeks in Spain! Before my flight I had 2 hours to waste so I did the weirdest thing and locked myself into a private washroom. I plugged in my adapter and charged my ipod and camera battery while passing the time by stretching and doing some workplace calisthenics.



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