Life’s been a bit crazy lately, with so many changes on the horizon. But if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s how much I love to travel and how much I love Spain. So when my friend invited me along on a trip to Madrid, how could I say no? The plan was Madrid, Florence and Disneyland. Well, I’m up for anything that involves Spain so quickly booked the time off work, but I wasn’t so crazy about visiting Disneyland. I know, I know, but I’m not the biggest fan of queueing or crowds, so I decided to skip Disneyland and would return to Spain. Then I got to thinking that as I had already been to Florence, maybe I could go solo after our stint in Madrid and really push myself to see if I could travel solo.
And so, after a lovely day with my family on the Saturday, I was in the car at 4.30am on a chilly Sunday morning on the way to the airport courtesy of parents’ taxi. I’d had absolutely none of my usual pre-trip worries, and that in itself worried me. Why wasn’t I worrying? Had I forgotten to worry about something? Even the prospect of being alone in another country wasn’t really worrying me…what had happened to me? After a quick reassuring chat with my parents that if it all went Pete Tong and I hated it I could book a quick flight home, I was on my way.
A smooth flight later and I landed in Madrid, quickly picked up my bag and was on my way into the city. It had all seemed so easy and straightforward, until I found myself wandering around a metro station for 30 minutes unable to find the line I needed. The early morning start and sudden realisation that I was lost made me want to cry. A few ahhhh texts to friends, a moment to gather myself and I found someone to help me. Come on Becky! I soon found my way to Atocha station where I had to spend an hour in a queue to drop my bag in a luggage locker, before finally making my way to Sol to meet my friends.
Sitting in the sun, with a cold drink in my hand, a paella on the plate and friends sitting across from me, my stress of the morning was instantly gone. I was in Spain. I had Spanish food and sunshine. I was happy – it doesn’t take much! And after a delicious welcome to the city it was now down to the serious business – let’s see Madrid!
My favourite way to see a new city is to just wander. Of course I like to see ‘the sights’ but to really get a feel for a new place, it can’t get much better than just walking around and seeing what’s what. A gentle stroll up through Sol, past CentroCentro and towards Retiro Park. Deciding the short walk was enough for now, we sat at a cafe next to the water and watched everyone bustling about, posing for photos while we got a nice cold drink and sat soaking up the sun. After posing for a few photos ourselves in front of the water and people rowing, we carried on to the Crystal Cathedral. And yes, I do keep thinking it’s called the Crystal Maze.
Although very pretty, there’s not much to see inside other than an art installation, so after seeing that and walking around the picturesque lake out front, we made our way back to the lake with the rowers and took a seat on the steps the other side we’d previously sat.
People watching is my favourite thing to do, but it was soon time to head back to Atocha, pick up my bag, grab some dinner and make our way back to the Airbnb to enjoy a girls night in with what can only be described as the biggest and best Spanish platter put together by my friend.
Spain, I have arrived. But now, time for bed!