Sunday, 23 October 2011


I first visited Madrid when I was 19 and fell in love with the place instantly. It has everything – magnificent architecture, beautiful parks, amazing restaurants, great museums, loads of shops and the best nightlife I've ever experienced. I also think it's somehow different from other European capitals. In London or Paris, for example, you often find yourself surrounded by suited and booted executives, who have a permanent expression of consternation etched upon their face and a Blackberry glued to their hand. In Madrid, however, people are dressed up to go out partying all night and usually have a glass of vino glued to their hand. It's the big city without all the stress.

I thought it'd be a real shame to visit Madrid for only a day when I had the whole weekend free, so I decided to go from Thursday night to Sunday of last week. Someone from the British Council Assistants' facebook group had recommended I stay in the Way Hostel near Tirso de Molina, so I booked that and hoped that I'd meet some cool people there. Thankfully, I did and it also turned out to be the nicest hostel I've ever stayed in (although to be fair, the competition includes the dorm in Paris which looked like cell block H and smelled like a sock, where I found a used condom under my bed.)

My first encounter was with the wonderfully eccentric reception guy who accosted me as soon as I got in the door. 'Hello, my beaaaauttifffuuull,' he chirped, 'what ees your name? I am BAU. Let me check you in.' After taking my details, he insisted on carrying my bag up to my (spotlessly clean) dorm, where I met some Londoners and a Bolivian. They invited me a 'quick drink' that evening and though I'm never one to refuse an invitation, I was mindful of the fact that it was already 11pm and I had to be up early the next morning for my induction meeting. Eventually, I agreed to have some food and a glass of wine and then come home. Somehow, though, I ended up in a plaza at 3am having consumed I-don't-know-how-many mojitos that came served in a receptacle the size of a trough.

Trough sized mojito
Getting up the next morning was a bit of a struggle, but I made it to the Ministerio de Cultura on time with the aid of my trusty metro map and a few questions to passers by. It went well for the most part, but one woman seemed to forget that Spanish wasn't the assistants' first language and rattled on at lightening speed, leaving us all a bit frustrated and desperate to get our hands on the promised cocktail at 2pm.

Cocktail time was a great opportunity to meet new people who are doing the same thing as me and hear how they're getting on so far. Most of the people that I spoke to have been placed in the south of Spain though - I was pretty disappointed that I didn't meet anyone else who is in the La Rioja region! (I told the teachers at my school this and they said that I'm the only one here because I'm special lol!!)
Chilling with some French and Belgian assistants in the Parque de Retiro.

Friday and Saturday nights continued in a similar vein to Thursday – fuelled with mojitos and filled with fun. Saturday ended with everyone from my dorm, my friend Andrea (who just happened to be around that weekend) and two randomers we met in the street hanging out in the hostel's kitchen at 6am, thoroughly shattered. A week later, I'm still recovering.

Never again will I worry about travelling alone.

Dorm Night Out Number 3!


Josh said...

Glad you are having fun chica! Need to stop neglecting my blog but really don't have the time! :D


Luc said...

Sounds like epic bant, i'm concerned you're not drinking enough though...

Claire said...

Gracias Josh, I didn't even know you had a blog, but I've subscribed to it now so you HAVE to update it :p Hope all is OK at home :)

And Luc, coming from anyone else, I'd think that the drinking comment was ironic, but from you I'll take it as a suggestion to crank it up a notch!!

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