As much as I enjoyed the beautiful beaches of Alicante and Mallorca, I was in need of some action and some excitement!
When we finally landed in Madrid, I could tell from the airport alone that I was going to like this city. I got that itch for the big city since I have become accustomed to city life (big or small). The metro was easy enough to navigate and thinking that I knew how to be a good budget traveler and knew how to ‘do the right thing’ I convinced my mates that we should buy a 3-day metro pass so that we could get the most out of the city. Being that we bought it at the airport we had to play a supplement as well because, like any city, the airport train costs more. It’s hard to recall but I believe the ticket was 11 euros, and to save any anticipation, no it wasn’t worth it. But I guess that’s part of being a traveler, you learn from your mistakes!
On to our hostel, we were quite pleasantly greeted, the hostel really set the scene for our stay in Madrid but I’ll be detailing that in a later post. We asked our lively Argentinian hostel receptionist the best local place nearby for dinner and were pointed to 100 Montaditos. If you have spent some time in Madrid lately, chances are you know what this place is, with new locations popping up all over the city, it’s pretty well advertised. We had a rough time the first night but after three days we had definitely mastered the art of the Montadito. For those of you that haven’t witnessed the phenomenon, here is a little crash course:
The Montadito is a mini baguette with a plethora of toppings available, one-hundred to be exact, hence the name. So, not unlike some American sushi joints, you are handed a pencil and a menu and you place the number of each item you want next to it, along with the drinks you want. You can choose from two kinds of beers, a few wines or the deliciously refreshing favorite drink of mine while in Madrid, the tinto de verano, similar to sangria but mixed instead with lemonade or sprite. The give you nice cold steins full of it too!
This first night, we were vastly confused about how to go about ordering, securing a table, and ensuring the waiter noticed us before the clubs opened for the night. We selected our sandwiches and took the order inside to the counter, where we assumed it would be prepared in the order received. Not expecting speedy service, assuming we filled the last free table in the entire Plaza. However, one hour and two beers later, our stomachs prompted us to go check out the scene. We sent the boys on the mission, since their language is closer to Spanish anyway, I assumed they would have an easier time communicating and be more demanding (to be honest neither of these perceptions were true but I didn’t want to go). The boys returned about 20 minutes later, empty handed but with promises that our order was coming soon. It was about another 25 minutes until we got it, and even though we thought we drastically over-ordered the small size sandwiches left us lacking just a bit after the long wait. So after we had enjoyed them we wondered on down through the bar-filled streets and found a deal on paella, which we thought was a bit of a dive but we’re suckers for cheap food! The bar turned out to be a stop on the pub crawl the next night and apparently 6 euro paella specials are the norm in Madrid!
After our unexpectedly lengthy dinner, the windy night was getting to us, so we opted to head back to the hostel and prepare for the next day’s tour.