This morning, I went to the Madrid bull ring to take a tour inside since I hadn’t been able to see a bull fight (or really want to for that fact). The tour was a little frustrating because it was in both English and Spanish since so many Spanish speakers were there. I felt like the tour was chopped in half because of the time constraint plus having to do it in both languages. However, being in the bullring and learning about the pomp and circumstance of this pasttime was really interesting to hear. It’s actually pretty impressive that they still do it so often (every Sunday!).
After the tour, I headed back to the hostel to put down my stuff and relax a bit and grab some lunch. I got a sandwich from a nearby cafe and did a little bit of walking afterwards waiting for the 3pm tour. I met a girl from Canada who also was interested in the tour, so we talked about meeting up there. At Plaza Mayor, I arrived looking for the red umbrella that was supposed to be the marker of the tour. I kept walking around looking thinking, this is not right. I saw a Minnie Mouse character with a red umbrella, but I sure wasn’t going to follow her around for a tour. Afterwards, I saw Sam, the Canadian girl, and we were both thinking that we’d been in the wrong place. We then went to the tourism office and asked an old man about the tours, and he said they started at 4pm. So we took a little stroll and got some amazing yogurt and made our way back around 4pm.
When we got back to the plaza, we saw our group waiting for the tour. Our guide was a little Israeli guy who had such a fake sense of enthusiasm. He was really informative though and took us around showing us all the stops in Madrid. We went to various landmarks hearing about Spain’s rough history and triumphs, and stopped for snacks including the natural alcohol of some berry that’s famous in trees. It was really sweet. We also stopped at a place for a ham sandwich and drink for just 2 Euro. We continued weaving our way through the streets of Madrid learning about its history too.
At the end of these ‘Free Tours’, they make it known that they only get paid in tips. In all my other tours, I typically would give the 5Euro bill, plus whatever coins I had in my pocket (Which adds up to usually 7Euro or so) which is a decent amount for a free student tour. A guy who was in front of me handed him a handful of a change and I was shocked to see that the guide started counting the change and said, keep it. I think the guy probably didn’t give much, but come on. So I handed my 5 Euro, and then gave him change as well, and when he counted the change, he said, come on I can’t even get a cup of coffee with this–and I said, I know, that’s why I gave you a bill too. He said, oh sorry, I didn’t notice. I was stunned. The rudeness of it made me want to take my money back, but Sam gave him 7Euro and he didn’t even thank her. We were both stunned and continued walking around afterwards exploring another section of Madrid, but kept coming back to his rudeness.
That evening, we went back to the hostel and got ready to go out for dinner. We found this great greenhouse type market that had everything you could want to eat. we met up with the Irish girl in my room Elaine, Sam, and she had recruited a danish and swedish guy to join as well. We all headed out to Plaza Mayor to find this market and were excited for food. We entered and it was so crowded. Everyone was hopping from stall to stall getting fresh food of everything you could imagine. We made our first stop at the Croquette station and got some fresh fried croquettes. We then continued on and I got some amazing fresh sushi, then we went to a shishkabab place and I had fresh tomatoes with mozzarella on a stick. We then headed to a meat station, and I had a fresh cooked sausage as a mini hot dog. That was absolutely the best dinner experience I’d had.. the food was incredible. I then finished it off with Cataluyan style flan, which was a rich dulce de leche flavored mousse. So good! We then went out to an Irish bar and continued our conversations about travels and experiences and finally came back to the hostel to turn in.
This was the part of hosteling that I really enjoy. Meeting people from all different parts of the world, walks of life, and experiences yet share a common bond of being present and open to meeting others to enjoy what’s around. It really was a great group to hang out with, so I was sad it was the one and only time, but that’s the life of traveling! What a great way to end my time in Spain, which by no means, will be my last.