I got to Madrid late Thursday evening and it was already evident it was a party town. I checked into my hostel, relaxed for about an hour and then went to dinner. After dinner I walked around for some photo opportunities. By this time, the bars were all full and people were partying away! While taking pictures I had the chance to explore a bit as well. Somehow, I ended up in a place where everyone was offering me marijuana. I tried my best to move away from this area and then soon after I headed back to the hostel to go to bed.
When I arrived back at the hostel I began talking to one of the girls staying in my room. Interestingly enough, it just so happened that we both went to the same high school. This is actually the second time I’ve met an Evanston High School alumni while abroad.
The following day, I started my day with a tour with SANDEMANs. It was a bit later so I had the chance to sleep in. It was quite interesting and my tour guide, Enrique, was excellent. (If you’ve never had a chance to go on a tour with SANDEMANs, I highly recommend it. Click here for my review on the SANDEMANs tours). The tour took us to several different locations, all of which were stunning. After the tour I went to a coffee shop to sit down and relax. Then I went to El Retiro which is a giant park in Madrid, similar to Central Park in New York. From there I went back to the hostel to collect my things and make my way back to the airport.
This is where things got a little weird. I had planned to take a bus overnight to Barcelona to spend the day there. When I scheduled the bus, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. After waiting for a bit at the airport, I got on the bus. Now I speak Spanish, I have all my life, but this bus driver’s accent was impossible to understand! He began explaining what to do and where to go and I didn’t understand him so I asked again. He again spoke unintelligibly but I was able to guess what he was asking based on his pointing. Once I got on the bus, it was impossible to sleep, which I needed plenty of since I’d be doing this two nights in a row. One reason for my lack of sleep was an incredible thunderstorm. The bus driver seemed to be going a bit too fast for such nasty rain, not to mention the bus was rocking back and forth from the wind. I figured he knew what he was doing, calmed myself down and went to bed. From there on, I woke up just about every hour. At one point when I woke up, the bus driver announced we were stopping, his reasoning not clear. I later figured out it was just a scheduled stop. Regardless he began to say something about how if we were going to Barcelona we should get off. I stayed to watch what everyone else was doing, I eventually realized that he had said if we needed to we could get up and walk around for a bit. I elected to stay put because I did not want to get left behind. I soon fell back asleep. At about 6am we arrived at the bus station in Barcelona.
Since it was so early and the sun was barely up I waited a few hours before leaving the bus station. I wanted to make sure that I would have a place to go if need be. At around 8am I left the bus station for a cafe to get some breakfast. On my way to the cafe I happened to stumble upon La familia sagrada. It was stunning and no one was around at that hour which was perfect for my photos. After taking some photos I sat down for some breakfast and some coffee. From there I went to the 11 o’clock SANDEMANs tour (are you seeing a pattern yet?). The tour lasted just under three hours where we covered things like the Gothic Quarter, Catalonian Architecture and the history of Barcelona.
After the tour I asked my tour guide where I had to go with only one day in town. He recommended Plaça d’Espanya. I decided to get lunch first but after lunch I thought I’d explore some other places before heading over to the plaza. I first went back to the Parc de la Ciutadella, where we ended our tour. I walked around before stumbling upon a beautiful waterfall. From there I walked along the waterline to try to find the plaza. Two hours later, I realized it probably would have been smarter to take the metro. Regardless the view was absolutely worth it. It was gorgeous and then down the road a bit was a water fountain outside the national museum. It all made for some great photos in the end. I decided to take the metro back to the city center where I went to another cafe to charge my phone and look at my photos before catching another overnight bus back to Madrid for my flight the following morning.
All in all, my time in Spain was packed with fun. Personally, my experience on the overnight bus was a bit off putting but in the end it was definitely worth it as having the opportunity to see Barcelona was priceless. The two biggest issues I think were the language barrier (or in this case the accent barrier) and the fact that I had to do it two nights in a row. If I could change anything it wouldn’t necessarily be the trip but rather I wouldn’t have done the bus two nights in a row.
As always, check out my Instagram photos from my trip here!