What Have I Done???
Things are fine now, but they weren’t so fabulous the first day and evening in Madrid. It is amazing how a few hours of decent sleep, a full stomach, and chocolate can make a world of difference!
The Flight: The flight wasn’t bad since they had a fairly large selection of movies to watch (I finally saw “Deadpool”), and we actually got two meals. I was able to drink a couple of glasses of red wine for no additional cost since it was an international flight which was also nice.
Sleep: I had this fantasy that I would sleep the entire time, and that just didn’t happen. There is only so far you can stretch out, and even with a comfy travel pillow and blanket, I’ve never been one that can just sleep anywhere. It kind of sucks. Needless to say, I only got about one to two hours of restless sleep. Keep in mind that this was in addition to the mere five or six hours of restless sleep I had gotten the two days prior since we were finishing up the packing and clearing out of our apartment.
Exhaustion: After we arrived at 7:45 a.m. at the airport in Madrid, we had to walk to get to customs. The customs line wasn’t long and we got through with no issues. We then had to go to baggage claim, and after seeing countless bags that weren’t ours, I finally caught a glimpse of our two suitcases. We had gotten a rolling cart to put the luggage on since our bags were packed to the maximum weight allowed. Two 50 pound suitcases, two carry-ons, and two backpacks that we each had on our backs made for a pretty hefty tow. It seems like a lot, but considering this is all we brought with us for nine months, I think we did pretty well!
I decided to exchange about $150 and only got back 109 Euros. Yeah, exchanging it at the airport screwed me, but what can you do? I needed money for the taxi. The taxi ride was only 30 Euros and I asked him to take us to the City Center to a place called City Life Madrid. I had signed up for a welcome kit there, and had read that there was a place to lock up your luggage while waiting to check into your hotel or AirBnb. We were not allowed to check into our room which was about 15 to 20 minutes from the center until 3:00 p.m. I messaged and asked if it were at all possible to get an earlier check in, but they were less than accommodating. 🙁
Holy Crap This Luggage!: We arrived at City Life Madrid, and the taxi driver was very nice and helpful. He went inside first to make sure that we were at the correct place, and didn’t charge any extra. He helped us with our bags, but then we were on our own and had to navigate them in this tiny lift (elevator). I was not accustomed to having to open an additional door to get out, and it kept going up! There was a young lady in there with us and she was not happy. She rolled her eyes and climbed over our bags. At the time I was irritated and slightly embarrassed, but it is pretty funny when you think about it.
Small Miracles: My contact at the school has been a lifesaver so far. She speaks fluent English and Spanish, and she offered to pick us up from the City Life Madrid location. (Oh yeah, no place to store luggage) It wasn’t that beneficial for me. I found out it is geared more towards a 20 something crowd, but if it helps someone out, that is great! I forgot to mention that the day we arrived the weather was apparently on crack because it was raining and hailing throughout the day. I’m used to this in Nashville, but this must not be the norm in Madrid because people seemed shocked.
She took us back to her place and offered to let me take a bath. She then got us some pizza. I offered to pay for it, but she wouldn’t take the money. I felt awful because I almost fell asleep while chatting with her several times. (This is another thing I don’t do.) I can be exhausted, and I won’t doze off. However, this was insane! I guess this is what jet lag is all about.
Airbnb: We finally got to the Airbnb, and Scarlett crashed at around 3:30 p.m. I had to get settled a bit, and then I crashed at around 5 p.m. We both woke up around midnight, and Scarlett started to cry saying that she missed everyone and wanted to go home. This made me sad too, as I was also having extreme doubts about everything. I tried my best to assure her that everything would be okay, and that we will venture out some the following day after getting some rest. She FaceTimed her dad, and we watched Netflix for a couple of hours. We slept another few hours and finally woke up refreshed at 11:00 a.m. There was no coffee in the kitchen, but we showered and got ready.
There is a nice retired couple staying in the Airbnb as well, and they kindly let us walk with them so that they could show us where the nearest Metro station was. Getting the hang of the Metro lines is a little bit overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t take that long to get the general idea. If you have ever taken the subway in New York City, you can figure out the lines in Madrid. They got off at a different stop because they were headed to Starbucks. I went with my gut and got off at the Opera stop. I immediately felt so much better as soon as we exited the station. I found the opera center in Madrid! We walked until we found a chocolateria.
Churreria Los Artesanos 1902 Chocolateria was a lifesaver! They immediately sat us down and we were able to enjoy chocolate con churros, cafe con leche, and toast with bacon and eggs. We have since tried Chocolateria San Gines, and I prefer 1902 Chocolateria. San Gines is more famous and much busier, but I thought the chocolate tasted a bit more watered down than the former. 1902 was simply heavenly!
After that, we walked around for a couple of hours and enjoyed a few sights. We got to meet Puss In Boots, but sadly Antonio Banderas wasn’t present. 😉
During our visit to the city center we also looked for any apartments that might be available to rent. The apartment hunt is another story altogether, and will be shared at a later date. This is where I sigh deeply and remember how amazing that stress relieving chocolate made me feel. (deep breaths) I know everything will work out. 🙂