¡Hola! ¿Cómo está?
Hello people! It’s been awhile every time I compose a story, puh-leaze excuse my laziness. Hope you guys, who are currently reading this (such an honor for me!), doing well and having fun living life. The thing is, last month I kinda abandoned my comfort zone, and was on 16-day vacation in the stunningly amazing country in the world, Spain. All alone with 16-kilogram ineffective 4-wheel rolling luggage, I visited 5 cities across the country, met new people, tasted its cuisine, took a lot of siesta, lost in translation, and of course the metro, too! Here’s what it’s like for an Asian solo traveler in the land of passion.
1st stop: Madrid
I’m not so sure cause it’s the first city I landed, but I must say that I love Madrid, like a lot, really really a lot. About 6-7 hours from Doha, I touched down around late afternoon. As someone who escaped from heavy rainy season taking over one’s own country, there’s nothing more to ask for. The first word literally coming in my mind was…
“f*ck, this hot but perfect weather, here I come!”.
Urgh, My damn huge luggage was so irritating. The next step was to get to the city. I researched earlier: the easiest way is to take the metro, smart girl. Everything was supposed to be under control. Jajaja, it’s a little bit not. Heading to SOL from the airport, it required changing the line at some station I couldn’t remember. The funniest thing was that connecting station is under construction. A few tourists and I were standing in that station, having no idea where’s next. It’s such a warm welcome, Madrid, so lovely. Thanks god, there was a beautiful lady helping and suggesting us the alternative, Gracias!
I traveled quite a lot and there was never any place that I feel moving in. But Madrid is so different. Here gets me like I wanna spend the rest of my life, stroll around the beautiful city, jog in the nice weather in the morning and hang out til very late night. The architecture is spectacular as I feel like I'm walking around ancient European city with modernized technology (of course it is). Also, people here are very nice, from strangers becoming friends. Gosh I will never get bored of this city! #Madrid #heartthecity
After spending almost an hour underground getting to the hotel, I eventually walked up and felt the heat. Best Moment Ever. Did I tell you guys that it’s my first time in Europe? Yes, it was. Everything was so new and exciting. Those beautiful buildings, the variety of human races, that savory-looking bakery, even the why-so-aggressive car horns were acceptably melodious.
The luckiest thing was my hostel (Hostal La Casa de La Plaza) was tucked right behind the famous foodie market, Mercado de San Miguel. My hostel frontdoor and the market’s were just opposite each other!
“At least I won’t starve to death” said to myself.
And the market didn’t disappoint me. (More ten points for Madrid!) Here you could find every *edible* thing ranging from cold cuts, local pre-cooked dishes, desserts, fresh juices to several names of beers. Guess what I had here, sí, paella! Paella is believed that it originates from Valencia. There are Valencian, seafood, vegan and mixed paella in general. My approx £5 Spanish fried rice was slightly crispy but flavorful in seasonings. Also, the rice, the well-cooked bomba rice, was more soaked and fluffy with olive oil, making it different from my Thai fried rice. Plus, here beers are more cheaper than drinking water, even from Chinese food mart. So, basically, it’s my kind of heaven.
So what else? When in Spain, there’s no escape from Jamón. Jamón is the Spanish word for ham. Here, it can be divided into 2 main types consisting of jamón serrano and jamon ibérico, depending on each type’s source. The easiest way to try this world famous dry-cured uncooked ham in Madrid is to drag yourself into Museo del Jamón. It’s everywhere like 7-11 in Thailand. But why dragging myself? Because my Spanish literate level is 5%, more or less. Alright, it’s not that big deal but it’s about overcoming my fear and getting out of my comfort zone, even actually I went there with a Spaniard in the end. There were various grades of jamón; from just £3-5 to hundreds that would definitely rob my tiny wallet. Paid like not more than £7, I ended up having a bocadillo, a sandwich made with lengthwise-cut Spanish bread, filled with jamón and served with olive oil, along with a glass of girly beer tasting like berry. Of course, I liked it but the bocadillo’s portion was too big for me.
“Don’t come here alone or with someone who had already eaten earlier.” That’s what I learnt.
Speaking of snack, there are chorros. Something a bit similar to Thai deep-fried dough stick or Pa Thong Ko. I’m so proud I had churros con chocolate at the renowned Chocolatería San Ginés. I usually have churros in Bangkok, and once in Seoul, but here was different, in a whole lot better way. Their freshly-baked churros were linear and light served with dark thick hot chocolate. I think the set I had was fine for 3 people, it would be around £12-20 in total and worth every single euro.
And what I had been waiting for was craft beers! Irreale, known as one of the best craft beer bars in Madrid, offers 16 taps and varied bottles from around the world. I had Swedish’s Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake, smelling and leaving chocolate aftertaste. Also, German’s Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier was really nice too. And the vibe was so relaxing, the owner provided helpful information of each taps, he knew his shit. The price usually starts at £3, pretty cheap. Definitely a must-visit place for beer lovers, Salud!
Duh! I know what you’re thinking, I’m gonna stop talking about food now, ok? Let’s shift the focus on where to, and not to, visit.
Even Madrid is the capital and full of tourists, it’s not that multicultural city. I barely found any international cuisine restaurant there. Ok, ok not going back to foodie thingy. When I was in Madrid, I walked a lot, like all the time, cause every attraction was connected and not too far from each other. I went to Museo Nacional del Prado which was packed with heaps of 12th century to early 19th century European fine arts like paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. I must say I wasn’t really into it, I wish I researched more about the artworks prior visiting. Luckily there’re English description of each one, those helped a lot but not to the maximum satisfaction.
Also, Almudena Cathedral and Palacio Real de Madrid are impressive in terms of architecture. I think it’s the same impression European people praise Thai temple. We don’t see this kind of architecture every day at home, so it’s new, eye-catching, and easily amazed us in one way or another. Regardless of queuing up for half an hour, the overall experience was excellent.
Travelling life was very distinct from the real one. I was unbound, almost worry-free from work and shits. I even went jogging at El Retiro Park in one morning, which was very unusual cause I didn’t work out lately back in Bangkok.
I strolled around, enjoyed getting little lost in La Latina, got to know new people and went hanging out with them. Should we call it a dream? I don’t think so cause it was real, it literally happened, but it’s temporary. The most important thing is to realize and balance your life.
Travelling is like drugs, when we’ve started, we won’t stop.
Don’t you agree that this post is now reaching its end? Yes it does! But there are 4 more stories following real soon! Next time I will take you to the city of flamenco, Sevilla, so keep yourself posted 🙂