So! Last Tuesday, my roommates and I had the sudden realization that the upcoming weekend was a 3 day weekend and we had zero plans. We had been hanging out with one of the teachers and asked about her travel plans, which happened to be Madrid. She said she had spare room, if we wanted a place to stay for the weekend. Naturally, we went back to our apartment, searched for tickets, and bought the cheapest set we could find for about 80 euros. Our flight was to leave Frankfurt at 7:20pm on Saturday and we would get back to Frankfurt around 5:30pm on Monday.
Apparently, I do not know how to pack for a weekend. I wanted to make sure that I had everything and I definitely overpacked. I will give you some advice when you are overseas and are taking a weekend trip: simply take a carry-on and pack the bare minimum for the ENTIRE WEEKEND! You will only be gone a few days! Pack light and save yourself the hassle! I planned the essentials (an extra shirt, only one pair of shoes, pants that can go with several different options, under-garments for the two days, etc) but I also packed an extra sweater, face wipes, fash wash (which was 5 oz and the limit for a carry-on is 4, you do the math!), contacts, toothe paste/brush, makeup, a book, a purse, and my camera bag. Now, leaving the apartment, I felt pretty good. I had the bag, my camera bag, and my purse. I looked at the other two girls and they each had simply a backpack and I thought they were crazy. I was wrong. They were brilliant! It was so much easier to get through security and such with only one thing! They had to wait on me to get all of my bags and things through before moving on. Then, whenever we sat down to wait on the plane and wanted to go get in line, they had to wait on me to grab everything so we would stay together. What did they pack? Undergarments for two days, an extra shirt, and a tooth brush/paste. We all wore clean shirts for the short plane ride and wore them the next day as a space saver but their traveling was much easier than mine. For weekend trips, don’t stress, just pack light.
We were picked up at 3:00pm to make it to the train station by 3:38 and we got there in plenty of time to buy tickets and board. The train to the Frankfurt airport was about 2 hours long but I didn’t mind, we got to see more of Germany! There is a city called Idar-Oberstein and there is a church built in to the rock face. I didn’t have time to take a picture, but we plan on going there some weekend and I will post a better picture than a glimpse from the train! We get to the airport and I realized that I had forgotten to print out my itinerary for the flight, meaning I couldn’t check-in for the flight at the self-help module. So, we had to go to the customer desk. I do not speak German, so Sarah (one of my roommates who is fluent in German) had to come to translate. Only one other of my roommates could make it to Madrid (Leander) so she came to stand with us so she wouldn’t be alone. The woman at the counter didn’t understand that Sarah and Leander had already checked-in and that it was just me, so she made them give her their passports as well. She re-checked Leander in before she realized her mistake and completely checked me in as well. That took an extra 15 minutes. Then, I took the face wash (mistake! as described above) by accident and it was over the liquid limit. Not to mention I forgot to put my bag of liquids in the outside tub even though the guard asked me to. I win. After that, if anything went wrong it was declared to be my fault and I agreed. I could have made the trip there a little smoother. The flight was a little over two hours and mine was grand: there wasn’t a soul seated in the seat next to me.
One of the best ways to travel around Madrid, aside from walking, is to ride the Metro. That is how we got from the airport to the apartment. We had to change trains twice and it took about an hour to get to the correct stop but it was cheap and much faster than walking. We paid about 12 euros for 10 trips in the Metro. Luckily, I have ridden a metro in Paris and in Istanbul before, so it was easy to read where we had to go. We went to the right stop, and our directions did not match the streets we were seeing. We decided to just walk until we found something familiar and luckily we only had to walk two blocks until we found the street sign we wanted. We walked a few blocks off the main road and came to the doorstep of the apartment building. To be honest, the walk there seemed a little sketchy: there was absolutely no one around even though it was Saturday night around midnight, there was graffiti all over the walls, and our apartment was in a completely random place. Our apartment was actually pretty nice! It had wooden floors, two full bathrooms, three bedrooms (2 twin beds, 1 queen bed, and 1 twin bed), a kitchen, and a living area and both couches could be pulled out into beds. We stayed with a fellow teacher, Tammy, and a few of her friends and they invited us to go to the city flea market at 9 in the morning. We got settled and went to bed.
Leander woke me up around 8:30 and I quickly got ready for the day, as there were six girls and two bathrooms available. Apparently the flea market was a huge thing in Madrid and it was literally on our street! It took up several streets and had such great stuff!! There were tons of scarves, t-shirts, other clothes, leather jackets and bags, trinkets, just about everything you could imagine. It was FANTASTIC!!! We were really cold so we stopped for some coffee then we split up. Leander, Sarah, and I went to the Palacio Real, Plaza Mayor, and just walked around enjoying the city. The Palace was my favorite, even though there are only 16 rooms open to the public. The throne room has red velvet, gold accent color, and dark wood; that is my favorite color combination! Unfortunately, the Almudena Cathedral was close by the time we got there but it will just go on my list of places to go next time I’m in Madrid! We met back up with the other girls at 5:00pm and went to the Prado Museum. We met up with one of the other girl’s friends who is studying in Madrid and we all met for dinner. Then, we went in search of chocolate churros! They are these straw-like doughnut-consistency treats that you dip in melted chocolate and they are THE BEST!!!!!
On Monday, Leander, Sarah, and I were on our own, as the other girls left early that day for their flight back to Germany. we woke up and decided to hit the area by Puerta de la Indepencia and the Parque del Retiro. These areas have such beautiful gardens! Parque del Retiro was my favorite, as there were fountains, and beautiful paths, butterfly bushes, and the monument of D. Alfonso XII, El Pacificador. In front of this giant monument is a tiny lake in which one may rent a paddle boat and boat around but it was much too cold. It was still just as majestic, even though the sun didn’t shine until we reached the backside of the monument.
Madrid is gorgeous. There is graffiti EVERYWHERE but it gives the city a sort of charm. This place has history and everyone wants to leave a mark. Europe has a vintage appeal; it has been around so long that you get the chance to walk where some of the greats have been. You literally walk on the ground that some of the greatest people in the world walked hundreds of years ago. It is fantastic. My favorite site was, without a doubt, the Palacio Real but I was just as content to simply walk around and soak in the culture. Spanish is a beautiful language and everyone there was so kind to us! I studied French in high school and some of the words are the same, so I often found myself recognizing words in print or in passing conversations. It was really amazing to just sit and listen to the city. I had such a great time! I can’t wait to go back someday!!!!
There is a link to see the pictures below! Just click on the link and it will send you to the photobucket site for this album.