Madrid! My train from Barcelona to Madrid was the nicest one I've been on yet! I sat behind a couple of American families and one lady let me read one of her People magazines, which was awesome. Once I got to Madrid I decided to take a rest evening that consisted of me watching the Olympics in bed. It was lovely and I only got out of bed to eat supper but that was still in the hostel. I sat by some awesome people at supper and had way more fun than I thought I would. Everyone at my table was doing something similar to me and we exchanged stories and compared American life to British life with one of the girls at our table. She told us that they have started putting Lucky Charms in the candy aisle in England and we thought that was hilarious!
On Wednesday Amy was suppose to get to Madrid around 8am but she texted me and told me her flight was delayed then cancelled and she had to find a new way to get to Madrid so she actually didn't land until 5pm. I had expected to be with her all day so instead I got up and...watched the Olympics (I love the power of watching the Olympics online!). Then I walked around town and found myself in this large park called Parque del Buen Retiro. I took time to drink a granizado (slushy) and paint. One of my friends from Greece shared a website of this guy who paints water colors in a different style. The buildings look like they emerge from a dream. I attempted to do a painting in his style and it was really fun so I think I will keep practicing! When Amy arrived we had supper at a delicious tapas place that was recommended to us. She told me about her horrible flight changes and delays and hours or traveling. Then she told me how they lost her luggage...
Thursday we were still hopeful they would bring her luggage. We had the hostel call the airport and they said her luggage was in Madrid! She borrowed some of my clothes and we figured it would be here soon. In the meantime we went on a walking tour. They told us the history of tapas and sangria. Apparently during the Black Plague they couldn't drink the water so they started drinking wine instead to stay hydrated. It was hard to drink wine constantly so one day someone added some juice to the wine and there you have sangria. Then everyone was drunk all the time at work and everywhere else. They began eating little meals when they would drink, which brings you tapas! How crazy is that, the Black Plague started something that is still part of Spanish culture to this day. In the afternoon we went to the train station to get an overnight train ticket to Porto, Portugal for tomorrow night. The only catch was that the trains were all sold out! We panicked a moment then reassessed. In the end we cut out Porto and opted to stay in Madrid an extra day then go to Lisbon and have a day longer than we originally planned there. Meanwhile back at the hostel Amy's luggage still hadn't arrived. Later we met my friend Mary (the one I met in Munich and hung out with for a couple of days) for supper at the Mercado de San Miguel. It was basically a market for tapas and it was delicious!! Then we saw lots of street performers in the Puerta del Sol.
Friday was an awesome day! We went to a park to walk around and went to a hermitage (I had never heard of a hermitage before this?!). It was called Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida. There were beautiful frescos everywhere! Then we met Mary at the palace of Madrid. I was very excited because I love touring castles, palaces and large homes! The palace was GORGEOUS. Our favorite room was the banquet hall because it was incredible. It is really hard to describe because it was so amazing but they could fit more than 50 people at their table. There were chandeliers everywhere, gold accents, really everything that makes fancy rooms fancy. After we toured the palace the hostel ended up calling the airport again and we finally got some answers. The airline Amy flew with didn't even have her luggage! Some other airline accidentally picked it up so they had no clue where it was and it probably wouldn't be found for a few days. We decided to both just live out of my bag. Who knew when I packed for the summer I was actually packing for two!
Saturday was our final day in Madrid. We went to the botanical gardens to explore a bit. Then we found the crystal palace in the Parque deal Buen Retiro. We walked around in the heat so much. We took a late long lunch break in the air conditioning! Then we checked out the Prado museum. It is open from 6-8 for free! We did not do it justice, we breezed through it in an hour so we could grab our stuff and head to the train station. It was a nice museum and I'm sure it would be much better to spend a whole day there. Our train left around 10pm and unfortunately our seats were really far apart. We got the last two seats so hers was a regular seat and mine was in a sleeper car 6 train cars away. So we parted ways then met up in Portugal.
We got to Lisbon around 8am, so even though we are tired from traveling all night we now have the whole day ahead of us! I'm excited to explore Lisbon!