Adios, Madrid!

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On Saturday morning, I surprised myself by waking up early despite my residual exhaustion from the past week. There had been a surprise thunderstorm in the middle of the night that neither I nor my drying laundry had expected. One thing I’ve realized during my travels is that the US is the only country where people use actual dryers for laundry. Everyone else air-dries their clothes – even in cold countries like Ireland, and especially in places like Madrid. After I mentioned that I always use a dryer at home, my host joked that Americans have machines for everything – even for peeling bananas!

After a quick shower, Henar (my Airbnb host) invited me to join her and her friends for breakfast. Spanish breakfast is, in all seriousness, the best. Typically, people just have coffee and Catalan toast, but Henar’s version also included avocado and fried organic eggs. So tasty.

After breakfast, I met up with Lola and Charlotte, two British girls I’d met while volunteering. Initially, I thought they were going to the Prado Museum, but we ended up parting ways, since they wanted to see La Reina Sofia instead. I did end up running into three other volunteers while at the Prado, and joined them for lunch afterwards. For those unfamiliar with art museums, the Prado is Madrid’s equivalent of the Louvre. It is huge, and has thousands of paintings from notable artists like Picasso, Goya, and Velazquez. Although I’m not particularly knowledgeable about paintings, I enjoyed reading about the different pieces, and even surprised myself by recognizing a few. Those culture lessons from high school Spanish finally came in handy!

No pics allowed inside but proof that I went! Madrid
No pics allowed inside, but there’s proof that I went!
Cathedral near the Prado, Madrid
Cathedral near the Prado

After a quick lunch with the group, I met up with Charlotte and Lola again, this time at the Palacio Real (Madrid’s equivalent of Versailles). We were all a little worn out and opted not to go inside – instead, we strolled through the palace gardens and talked. Despite spending a week at the same place, I realized that I didn’t to know a lot of the volunteers very well, since we all ended up spending so much time with the Spaniards. So strange but it was a great way to ensure I still had friends while traveling solo. I had an overnight bus from Madrid to Malaga for the start of my Andalucia trip scheduled for that evening, so I was unable to join them for dinner. Henar was kind enough to let me leave my luggage and drying laundry until that evening, so I returned and packed my things before hauling everything to the bus station. (Side note: even though I packed lightly, in retrospect, I could have packed less) Luckily, I arrived with plenty of time to relax before my bus.

Palacio Real, Madrid
Palacio Real


Palace Gardens! Madrid
Palace Gardens!


Graffiti wall outside the gardens, Madrid
Graffiti wall outside the gardens

Although I didn’t really sleep on the bus, I was happy to find it to be very comfortable and equipped with WiFi. I was initially a little concerned about arriving at Malaga at 7 am, especially since my guesthouse’s reception didn’t open until 9 am. Luckily, the bus station ended up being huge – complete with a café that was actually open, as well as a bunch of chairs. Perfect time to catch up on blogging and caffeinate my way into the day!

I also realized that this is the first time during my trip that I’d be truly alone for an extended amount of time. In Madrid, I spent maybe one day on my own, but not alone (since I was part of a couple of tours). Whilst in Andalusia, I’ll be more or less alone, with the exception of a few walking tours and dinner with a couple of Spaniards in Seville. I’m half excited and half nervous, but I’ve always wanted to travel alone and I guess now this is it! Will I love it or hate it? Only time will tell.

TLDR: a short summary of what I did and where I ate in Madrid for those too lazy to read the post

Where I went:

  • Museo del Prado: one of Spain’s most famous art museums, housing an impressive collection of Spanish artwork. It’s huge, and art lovers can get lost in there for hours. 
  • Palacio Real (well, the Gardens): the palace that once housed the royal family and was last occupied by famous Spanish dictator, Franco. I didn’t go inside, but the accompanying gardens are a gorgeous place for a walk.

What I ate:

  • Unfortunately, nothing particularly note-worthy. Lunch was a mediocre touristy meal, and dinner was a quick sandwich at the bus station. 

Where I stayed:

  • At this Airbnb in Malasaña, the trendy hipster neighborhood. Sign up for Airbnb and get a $20 credit here.

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