After going through another trying period in my life, I needed a break from reality. And I needed one... QUICK!
Other than Russia, which my tour guide, at the time, considered half-Europe and half-Asia, I hadn't been to Europe. I didn't have the time or the finances for the #EuropeanExcursion that I wanted to plan for my 30th birthday. So, instead of planning some elaborate "escape from my everyday life" adventure, I decided to pick one country that I could survive in for a couple of days. With my semi-fluency in Spanish, I knew Spain would be the perfect place.
Spain has three main touristy cities: Seville, Barcelona and Madrid. But out of these three cities, there was one, in particular, that was calling me. I chose #Madrid.
My Spanish lessons paid off as soon as I got off the plane! I had booked an Airbnb and my room attendant didn't speak a lick of English. It had to be the most rapidly-speaking Spanish that I had heard in a while. She was just a taste of what I'd experience later on in my trip.
Madrid was like any other metropolis. It was full of it's malls, cafes and museums. The people were friendly and as long as you could somewhat communicate in their language, they were willing to help.
I spent my first day in Toledo. I had read that there was Moorish architecture over there and I was ready to explore. It was about an hour and a half away from Madrid and once I was able to navigate through Madrid's metro system, it wasn't terribly hard to find a bus heading to Toledo. Again, with the aide of my limited "español."
In Toledo, I visited La Plaza de Zocodover. There, I had my first experience at a tapas bar, which was not as eventful as I thought it would be, and witnessed one of the most breathtaking views while walking up a hill leading to El Museo de Santa Cruz.
After two hours of wandering around, I finally found what I was looking for: La Mezquita de Cristo. It was a living piece of architecture in Toledo, showing that a piece of Moorish culture still survives in a country whose rulers are the predecessors of conquistadors.
Madrid had some surprising highlights. El Museo del Prado was, in my opinion, one of the most amazing museums in terms of art in all of Madrid. Right across the street lies an interesting little attraction, El Museo de Jamón. Here you can get a mug of beer and some meaty hors d'oeuvres for only 1 Euro.
Therefore, although I only spent two days in what appeared to be an average European city, I was still able to make the most of the experience. Visiting an archaeological museum, cheering with locals as they gathered for their country's "National Pride" parade and wandering through the streets of an outdoor bookstore. The amount of books in this perpetual store was unbelievable! If I had only two days to spare in the middle of Europe, I wouldn't have spent it any other way!