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Friday, 25 May 2012

We're in Madrid!!

Hey everyone!!!

We're here! We made it! We're even in the fucking hostel!

There's so much to say and it's getting late, so let's jump straight into what's happened today.


We woke up at 8 and had breakfast in Subway in town. Sam, being the fatty that he is, ate a foot-long bacon, sausage, egg and cheese sandwich which came to half of his guideline daily amount of calories; I stuck to a modest 400 calories.

We went back to Sam's flat and finished getting all our stuff together, checking that we hadn't forgotten anything essential. We double-checked our trains. And then we headed to the station for a train at 12 o'clock.

The train from Canterbury East to Victoria took about an hour and 20 minutes; it's a journey that me and Sam are used to so that was fine. We only had to make one change to get on the train to Gatwick, so this went pretty smoothly. Notice how I'm getting through this part of the day quite quickly - this is so that we can get to the more interesting stuff sooner!

We checked in at the airport at about 2.30pm, our flight was at 5.05pm so we gave ourselves plenty of time. For those of you who do not know, I am (or "I was" - I'm not anymore!) a plane virgin - this was my first time flying, so I didn't really have much of a clue about all the stuff we had to go through. Luckily Sam has flown quite a lot so he was there to guide me through it all, however this was also a disadvantage as he kept tricking me by telling me random little "facts" about flying and the whole process, making me swear by them and then telling me that they weren't true - NOT FUNNY SAM.

Everything we had was in our hand luggage apart from my fucking HENCH rucksack which we put in checked luggage. This also contained our toiletries and therefore many liquids, which would have been too much to take in our hand luggage. So after we sorted out that, we got all of our shit x-rayed, went through security which (according to Sam) was very fast and simple compared to most flights, and then we were airside!

As we got to the airport so early, we had almost an hour and a half to wait until our gate opened. So where did we go? COSTA. Sam got a coffee and a lemon tart (fatty), I got a honey/granola yoghurt and a blueberry muffin (it had blueberries - healthy!!!).

 This was YUMMY.

As we hadn't had anything to eat for breakfast, we devoured this quite quickly, which meant that we still had ages to wait for our gate to open. We were going to have a look around but it turned out that the shopping area wasn't as big as we expected. We went to WH Smith - I got a copy of El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, in order to get my brain into Spanish mode (and admittedly to show Sam how inferior his Spanish skills are), and we both got some sweets. Sam got a fucking pic 'n' mix for some reason - I told him that it was a shit idea and so it proved (more about that later). But yeah so that occurred.

With nothing else to do, we sat around reading the newspaper until the gate opened. When it did, we headed down to the waiting area, which was so so so so so so so HOT - it must have been about 30 degrees down there, even the Spanish people were fanning themselves - and waited to board the plane.

We didn't get to choose what seats we wanted beforehand, and I really wanted a window seat as it was my first flight. Luckily, we found when we got on the plane that I had a window seat, and it was OVER THE WING!! So exciting!! (For me, anyway). So this all went really well.

Everything was in Spanish! We were flying with Air Europa, a Spanish airline, and it was lucky that I was there because Sam wouldn't have understood anything. Even when the people made announcements in English it was impossible to understand - I understood the Spanish better than the English!! So we went through all the usual safety announcements as we travelled to the runway. Yay.

And then we took off!!! I want to go into detail about how I amazing felt and stuff but I'm sure most of you have experienced this plenty of times. Put simply: it was FUCKING BRILLIANT. I loved it.

It didn't take very long to get up to altitude. I'll show you a few pictures we took up in the air!

Spanish water!!!

Sam's coffee - he said it was shit (suprise surprise)




Going over Spain and landing in Madrid was awesome. As we went over the north of Spain you could see all of the mountains (specifically the Picos de Europa) and then just before we landed in Madrid we passed another set of mountains. This was stunning, especially as we were at a much lower altitude. I really loved landing, it was FUN :)

And when we got off the plane, we didn't go through one of the tunnels - there were steps down from the plane entrace straight to ground level!! Sam said he's only done that once before, so we were both pretty impressed. Here are some pictures:

The first thing that someone said to me on Spanish ground? "Watch your shoelaces." Could be worse I suppose.
Then we got on a nice little bus to the main airport building. Here's Sam on the bus!
And the bus itself...
Once we got in the main building, we got my rucksack from the checked luggage (this was easy, thank god, as the plane wasn't particularly big). However, we also found that, in our hand luggage, Sam's MOTHERFUCKING PIC 'N' MIX had opened in the bag and there were sweets EVERYWHERE. GIGALOLS. Sam was so deeply scarred by this event that he decided to leave the few remaining sweets that were in the cup on the floor in the airport. I hope they find theie way to a homeless person or something.
We then made our way to the metro station for the airport. This is the metro station:
And our train:
We had a few changes to do before we got to Sol, the station nearest to our hostel. Our first train took us about four stops to Nuevos Ministerios, we then went on a different line for one stop to Cuatro Caminos, and then finally about six stops to Sol. Here's a tube map so you can follow our route:
And here's the inside of a Spanish tube train:
This is where we reach the frantic part of our day. Sam remembered that the last check-in time for the hostel was 10pm, and yet we were still at the airport metro station at 9.30pm. All we could do was go as fast as we could. All of the metro stuff went pretty smoothly - we only had to buy one ticket each for the whole journey, so that was easy to do using the machines, and all of our changes went according to plan.
We arrived at Sol at about 9.55pm. Cue UTTER PANIC.
Firstly we walked about 100 yards up a road in the complete opposite direction to where our hostel was. Then we found a map, and I saw a road on it that I recognised - Calle del Espoz y Mina - which, in accordance with sod's law, was the complete opposite fucking direction. So we raced up the Puerta del Sol area until we found the street.
We walked up the street. No hostel.
All we could do was wander around in desperation. We found about 300 other hostels, but not ours. All the streets are so tightly packed and look similar; it was very easy to get lost.
We saw a hotel and decided that we should ask for directions.
I said to the hotel receptionist "¿Puede decirme dónde está el Hostal Oliver?" (Can you tell me where the Hostal Oliver is?).
She realised that I was English from my accent and then started speaking to me in English. She was very helpful and got our hostel on Google Maps. And guess what? THE ROAD I RECOGNISED ON THE MAP WAS RIGHT! At least that was some comfort at the time.
It must have been about 10.30pm at this point. We got make to our road but still couldn't find the hostel. We tried more roads again. No luck. It was only when we were walking down the fucking road for about the 7th time when I noticed really high up a building the sign for 'Hostal Oliver'. There were so many signs on all levels of the buildings that it was very hard to pick out one in particular, so it's no surprise it took us quite a while.
The next question: was the hostel open?
No. But there was a voice thing by the door. We pushed the button for Hostal Oliver and prayed.
Me: "Hola."
The Voice: "Booking?"
Me: "Yes."
And as if by magic, the door unlocked.
So we climbed the very steep stairs up to the fourth floor, paid, checked in with our passports, got our keys (one which opened the downstairs door, meaning that we could stay out as long as we wanted, and one for our room), and entered our room.
It really isn't bad at all. It has everything we need, including air conditioning, which is pretty fucking essential in this hot weather.
We put down our stuff, breathed a few sighs of relief, and then had a quick internet break and Skyping session.
After this, we finally allowed ourselves to eat. While we were desperately searching for the hostel, we passed quite a few places where we could eat, in particular this one small street where there were loads of small bars and restaurants with everyone eating outside.
The night life in Madrid is fucking INCREDIBLE. There are sooooooooo many people out, and so many places open. And it's so different from England - everyone is friendly, people drink responsibly, and the atmosphere is really nice. So when deciding where to get food, we headed for this small street and found a nice little place to eat.
Here is the street:
When we sat down, we ordered drinks (again they realised we were English after my attempts to speak Spanish) - I got some water and Sam got a Mojito cocktail, which he enjoyed. Then for food, we ordered a large Pollo de la Barbacoa (Barbecued Chicken) and two Ensaladas (Salads). As is normal in Europe, they gave us some bread before our meal, which I've always wondered why we don't do in England so much.
Our salads came out first: they came in a big bowl with some tuna which was nice :)
And then our main food came out. FUCK. We did not expect this.
This was the BEST FUCKING BARBECUED CHICKEN in the whole world. The sauces and barbecued peppers were great too. These were our reactions:
It really was a great first meal. The food was lovely, the staff were all really friendly, and the atmosphere in general was great. Even the temperature was comfortably warm by this point. A man playing an accordion kept floating around us too which was nice; it added to the friendliness of everything.
The meal in total only came to 39 euros, which we were pretty happy with, especially considering the amount of food we ate. This is how you do it in ESPAÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑÑA.
After the meal, we decided to take a quick walk to the Puerta del Sol (the main central area of Madrid if I haven't mentioned this already) which has a few nice fountains, buildings and so on. Here are some pictures:
You can see how lively it is at night. I bet even if we couldn't find our hostel we could have stayed out in the Puerta del Sol all night and been fine!!!
We then headed back to the hostel for the final time. On the way, we saw a bus shelter which showed the temperature: 26 degrees. At MIDNIGHT. What the fuck? So glad we have air conditioning!
And that pretty much brings you up to date!
Oh and here's a random thing we noticed in our hostel:
It's clothes hanging from washing lines from the fourth floor. Pretty neat!
So anyway, that's how our first day went! In the end it wasn't too stressful, although already I have wanted to stab Sam repeatedly with a sharp object at some points. But we're ok.
I've been writing this blog post for 2 hours. Fuck. But it's worth the sleep deprivation. I'm sorry if the blog hasn't been as witty as you are accustomed to; there was so much stuff to get through and it is very very very very very late. Hopefully I've made up for that with the content: lots of pictures and the fact that we're actually on the trip now rather than just preparing for it. Today has been amazing but draining!
Just now there were loads of Spanish football fans chanting outside. NICE. I'll say it again, the night life here is MUY BUENO.
But anyway, I better get to bed now, I'm not gonna get much sleep! We've already chosen the café we're going to tomorrow morning so I'm looking forward to that.
Tomorrow is going to be very exciting so look forward to the blog post! I should start it earlier seeing as we won't be going through the panic we went through today, so hopefully this putting-words-in-some-logical-order business will come more naturally.
So for now, buenos noches!!!!!!!!!! And.........................sleep :)
Jack - 25/5/12 - 03:26 in Madrid, 02:26 in the UK

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