Friday, January 21, 2011
This adventure begins at the San Diego Airport when a flight leaves towards Chicago at 630 AM. After 14 hours of flight, 3 1/2 hours of layovers and 9 hours of time change, I arrived at Barajas Airport in Madrid. Since I was packing for 6 months, I had quite a bit of luggage. Since I came from the Americas, our gate was the furthest away from the metro. As I carried my 160 pounds of luggage I began to doubt what everyone said about packing so much for six months. Should I just leave the bags there for some other poor soul to try and pick them up? Alas, I continued on my way. As I reached the Metro station, I ran into my first experience of having very little idea on what to do. Normally, my knowledge of English would help me with any sort of public transportation problems within the United States, but this being Spain I did not have that luxury. I received help from another American, allowing me to get onto the Metro and knowing when to make the change. Adventure number two of the morning was finding the accommodation I had secured through a mutual friend. I knew the Metro stop and the direction I needed to travel, all seemed good until I learned that the Spanish do not agree with using street signs as much as Americans. There are street signs conspicuously placed on the corners on their buildings, on about the first floor (which is not actually the first floor, but more on that later on). Unbeknownst to me, there are multiple exits to a Metro station. For my stop there are a few choices, and guess what? I chose wrong. After making a small circle, I figured out the system with a map and was able to find my new home in Madrid. After ringing the bell, Kiara, my roommate, buzzed me in and on I went. In Spain, the floor you enter on is 0, which means that since our flat is on the fourth floor we are really on the fifth floor. Needless to say, to travel up five flights of stairs with that luggage was no easy task, but since I had finally gotten to my destination, I was happy. Kiara, my roommate, was waiting for me to arrive and greeted me warmly. I immediately saw posters of The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Audrey Hepburn upon entering, making me feel very happy about my new living arrangement. After carefully(sarcasm?) putting all of my luggage away, Kiara and I had a great conversation about the greatness of American Rock music while listening to R.E.M., The Eagles, and Johnny Cash. After recharging my batteries(I was a little beat after almost 18 hours of not sleeping) we had breakfast at 1 PM. Yes, breakfast on Sunday at 1 PM. A couple of friends came over to our place (quickly taking ownership of it, no?) to share in the Spanish breakfast of ham and mayonnaise sandwiches (very different, eh?) with pineapple slices. After conclusion of breakfast, and me learning how poor I am at Spanish, we left for a friend's house for lunch (it being currently 4 PM, why not?). Stopping at a bar on the way there, I learned the ways of Spanish bars. 1. You order something to drink(alcoholic or non-alcoholic) 2. The bar brings food for you, regardless of what you order. This practice should be practiced by every country, since what they bring it is olives, bread and/or any type of sausage. It's quite fantastic. Upon departure and eventual arrival to the friend's house, we had chicken with fries. Prior the eating, it was (quite) necessary for one of the Spaniards to go to the store to buy a baguette. Something to know about Spanish people, they love bread. It is quite necessary to eat/drink with bread. Without bread is quite meaningless in their eyes. After dinner, and occasionally nodding off while speaking with others, I felt it necessary to walk home. That night I went to bed at 7 PM, 25 sleepless hours after I left from San Diego, CA. Pictures to come later, promise!