After 3 short weeks, I am leaving the beautiful Madrid. I have begun to fall in love with this city; it’s cobblestone streets, grand architecture and wonderful people (both local and foreign). Most of all, I’ve fallen in love with the language all over again.
I spent my first 2 weeks living in a non-tourist neighborhood just outside of the city centre. My host family was amazing; I enjoyed many home cooked meals, spoke lots of Spanish, and fell into a comfortable routine. I walked through the huge Parque Retiro every day on my way to school (a good 30 minute walk, mostly in the park), and ran several times each week in the same peaceful park. On occasion, I would stop to enjoy the calm of the birds, trees, and relaxed people while reading a book or doing my Spanish homework.
The following weekend, I surfed the couch of a local a little further out from the city centre. I explored the streets of this neighborhood and got lots of reading done on my metro rides into the city. A nearby park replaced the calm I found in Retiro Park, but it wasn’t quite as nice, and wasn’t good for running.
I moved to a hostel for the next few days. I walked a good 3 minutes to the main square, Sol, often. I slept horribly and didn’t study much in these days, but I enjoyed the conveniences of such a central location and met lots of other travelers, from which it follows that I had some great conversation and enjoyed some good late-night beer. I only wish it weren’t the definition of travel that you say goodbye, often only hours or days after meeting amazing people.
The hostel was fully booked for the weekend, so I casually popped on hostelworld to find something else. The realization of tourist season hit me when there wasn’t a single hostel, in my price range, with availability for Friday and Saturday. It’s great when these things work themselves out for the better, though. Friday morning, I rang up the landlord of the place a friend from school was staying. He said he had a room available and that I could come by whenever and pay 25 euro for the two nights. After almost 3 weeks of constantly being surrounded by people and being on the go, I was glad to have my own private room in a shared flat. I cooked myself eggs in the large kitchen, and watched the downtown action from the window of the flat. I could have stayed here longer. I could have stayed in Madrid much longer.
In the 3 weeks I was in Madrid, I had 60 hours of Spanish class, attended various after-school social/cultural activities, watched many a football match, and visited a few tourist attractions. I spent my time with people from various countries and all different walks of life, from 20 year-old Bojana from Macedonia to 50-something Daniel from Canada. I would not have enjoyed my time in Madrid if it weren’t for all the amazing people I had the good fortune of getting to know. If any of you are reading this, I want to say thank you for being so super awesome, and I can’t wait til we cross paths again one day.
And so I sit, once again, pensively staring out the train window as I await arrival at my next destination, Granada. It’s hard to believe that 5 weeks in Spain comes to an end this Friday. Voy a hechar de menos, España.