Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 1 Madrid

After a long, but pleasant and full day of travel we arrive at the morning, ready to begin a new day. After staring at the ground transportation signs for what seemed like an eternity we figured out we needed to take the Metro (subway) rail line to downtown, where we would spend our day and then take another line to where our first couchsurfing host lives in the suburbs of Madrid. To fully grasp the transportation exasperation it is imperative to know that in Madrid you can take the metro which is an all encompassing subway, or the Metro Ligero a light rail system, the Cercanias or the Renfe lines, both of which are high speed train lines that also connect Madrid to other cities within the country and abroad...if all of those trains don't have you spinning, add in the huge bus system, along with the night bus system (night owl) which operates on some of the lines, and your in for a transportation treat. Of course there are taxis, moto taxis (essentially a scooter) and planes as well. In other words we can pretty much get anywhere that we need to go, anytime of day. For ease of mind we spent the majority of the time on the Metro; they are fast, efficient (1 train every 7-15min) and affordable at only 2 euros per train ride within the main city zone A. 
We got off the Metro at Nuevos Ministerios walking up and out into the city we were really here, finally. First things first, time to find a map so off to the tourist information, the only problem...which way is North, West and up?!? We must have started to walk down the block and then up the block 3 times before actually being able to figure out what street we were on and in what orientation we're going.  We arrive at the T.I. Get all of the maps and answers to the questions we can think of and head forwards Retiro Park. This is a 350 acre park that was once owned by royal family but was opened up for the citizens of Madrid, and definitely one of the most beautiful city parks we have ever seen! Complete with a lake where you can rent rowboats, mesmerizing marble sculptures, a crystal palace and a large variety of trees including Madronas (our favorite) and palm trees, both of which we were surprised to see. The olive trees still have not completely shed their fruit and the magpies and ducks are plentiful.
While most of the park was relatively quiet Tigger was still able to identify the tourist within us and ask us for money (which he did not receive)! After we had done about four hours of walking with our heavy packs it was almost time to meet Abraham our first couch surfing host. We got on the red line of the Metro and connected to the Purple line that takes us to Rivas Futura and try as we might didn't arrive until 3:25... Almost a half hour later than the 3:00 meet up, oops! He was nowhere in sight, and after pacing and walking around the building and back to the train station we did the only thing we could...we trudged the quarter of a mile to Macdonalds to sponge off of their wifi. We were able to contact Abraham via Whatsapp and he met us outside the apartment 30 minutes later. We gladly got inside and took off our bags and opened the bottle of wine we had brought as a host gift. The apartment is beautiful and new as he has only lived here for 6 months and very fashionable with a sleek black and white theme, and what's better we actually get to sleep on a bed, score! After some wine and socializing we agreed on a siesta before going out on the town. Waking up around 11 we realized it was raining and we were so much more tired than we us realized, quickly agreeing on back to bed!

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