I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed thinking about sitting down and writing about all the amazing experiences Spain had to offer my cousin and me. However once I started writing, the rest took care of itself! Each city we visited in Spain really deserves it’s own post so I shall deliver. So hereeeee we go: Four cities in eight days; four blog posts in…. probably longer than eight days 🙂
Madrid was our fly in fly out city. We only spent our first day and night & last day and night here. One thing became super clear to us as soon as we touched down- Christmas is a HUGE deal here. We felt that way about Spain in general but I would say the decorations in Madrid were the most over powering of all the places we visited. Every street branching out from Puerta del Sol (Madrid’s big public square, seemingly the heartbeat of the city) seems to have its own theme, with lights hanging high overhead as you walk down them.
We arrived in the city early morning prettyyyyy jet lagged after having missed an entire night’s sleep to fly in. After getting our bearings and getting into a taxi, we arrived at our first hotel, Hotel Meninas. The location of this place was completely perfect. Just a short walk to where all the action was. I should let you know now that when my cousin and I travel together, we walk. A LOT. We both feel its the best way to get a feel for the area and most of the time don’t really have any specific plans so we just stop when we see something that looks cool or delicious or unique or anything really! Our room was SO cute! We realized we had not one or two terrace balconies in our room, but THREE. They were such great spots to people watch in the semi-busy street below. Three terraces and zero wigs on the floor.
**This where I get side-tracked for a moment and explain our relief of not finding wigs on the floor. Last spring we took a trip to Amsterdam and Belgium. In Europe the hotels have a tendency to give you two single beds that are pushed together to almost appear as one bed. Us being cousins, always pull them apart to actually create the two, separate beds that they are. While in Amsterdam, we were QUITE surprised that while we were pulling beds apart, we found a wig on the floor in between the two. Yes, a wig. It had apparently fallen off someones head in between these two beds at some point. Then was left there. The cleaning staff didn’t see it because it was under the beds. This created several moments of uncontrollable laughter (we were also jetlagged and overtired this day) and trying to figure out how on earth we were going to explain this to the hotel staff in the lobby who spoke English as second language. The fact that we were still in fits of laughter made it even more difficult. It was a challenge. My cousin, Maya started off by telling them there was a wig on the floor in our room. Blank stares. I tried taking over “ya know, like a hair piece?” tugging at my own hair to hopefully get my point across. It wasn’t until one of the bellhops came up to our room to see for himself what exactly was happening that he understood and responded “oh!! you didn’t expect that did you?” It was the perfect reaction. More fits of laughter before someone came to remove it.**
Back to Madrid. After being super touristy and standing on separate terraces and taking pictures of each other, we were ready to explore!
It was a super rainy day. Which made it feel really cold. Being that it was end of November, it wasn’t exactly warm to begin with. We walked down to Puerta del Sol. There’s TONS of shop and restaurants every where you look in the area. We ended up stopping into a lot of stores just trying to duck out of the rain. The first thing that struck me was how relatively inexpensive everything was. Some of their “higher end” stores were much more reasonably priced than some of the “middle of the road” stores in the States. We could see all the lights hung up on the streets but it wasn’t dark enough yet for them to be on so we knew we needed to come back out later to see this. This is when I was introduced to my favorite tradition in Spain. SIESTAS. A lot of businesses and restaurants will close down for a couple of hours beginning around 4 PM and the whole city just rests before heading back out and then eating dinner around 9 or 10 PM. Its GENIUS. Since this is usually my crashing time at home this was the most perfect tradition to enter my life. I embraced siesta time with open arms. There hasn’t been a day that goes by since I’ve been back from Spain that I haven’t sighed really loudly and thought, or actually said out loud, “I miss siestas.”
After siesta-ing at the hotel for a couple hours, we headed back out. This time the city was transformed into what resembled a Christmas wonderland. The lights added an actual spark to the city.
The center of the square housed a giant LED Christmas tree and it was PACKED on a Tuesday night. Not just with tourists, but locals also. This is essentially the Rockefeller Christmas tree of Madrid. Even in the rain it was beautiful. Admittedly, I am not a huge Christmas person for my own reasons. However, this did really put some of the giddy childhood excitement into me. It was magical!
After walking around a ton we grabbed a late dinner and headed back to the hotel for our morning train ride to Barcelona!