The hostel I’m staying at in Madrid has computers for guests’ use in the basement (right next to the bar, oh yes), so I thought I’d check in with early impressions.
We flew all night, from 6pm East Coast time to 8am Madrid time. I read the whole time; no sleep for this one. The plane, a giant Airbus 340, had a camera mounted on the tail and aimed forward, the view of which they showed during takeoff and landing. It was pretty cool to see what the landing looked like from that perspective.
The landing took place just after sunset on a clear, brisk winter day. Temperatures in the 60s (for now, I’m still thinking in fahrenheit). I didn’t check anything, so after navigating my written-in-Spanish customs form I was cruising. The airport was gorgeous: part tree house, part modern shopping mall. Cool thing I saw: moving walkways that move you up or down a level. An escalator without steps, basically.
But I navigated my way through customs and onto the metro, including buying a metro pass with these ridiculous EU coins (I am, no exaggeration, carrying 20 euros in coins on my person, in 1 and 2 euro denominations). The metro is clean and easily navigable, and three trains later I was at the exit for my hostel. I stopped off to buy a bottle of water, and was inordinately proud of myself for being able to say, “Hola. Agua, por favor. Gracias.” without revealing myself to be a total idiot. Little victories.
The hostel is tucked into an alleyway off a side street, and is actually fairly hip, for being built into a building that’s older than the game of Monopoly. There’s an indoor courtyard, free wifi, and the reception workers all speak English.
It was 10am when I finally checked in, and by about noon I’d done enough exploring the neighborhood for my tastes. So I decided to take my first official siesta. My skills in napping do translate over here, it seems. Even more impressive that it was fully clothed on a tiny top bunk.
Of course, next to the bed is a locker for my personal belongings that, I swear to you, I can’t even begin to figure out how to lock. Win some, lose some.
Now I’m off to find dinner and see the sunset. I still don’t know how often I’ll be able to check in, but day 1 is almost successfully concluded.
Most important Spanish I learned today: No entiendo. Translation: I don’t understand. This one is going to get a lot of mileage, I can already tell.