Before visiting Spain, I did a bit of research on the historical and present issues that the country is facing. Almost everyone has heard about Spain’s economic issues to the point of where there are no signs of it turning around gaining ground. It is still suffering from crushing unemployment numbers, especially among the 25 and under age range . On the bright side, I knew that I would be visiting Toledo, a historic town of about 90,000 people. It’s just a thirty minute train ride south of Madrid. In 1986 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As a fairly active video gamer, one thing instantly came to mind when I saw pictures online of Toledo; Assassin’s Creed. I began to visualize myself buying a red cape and leaping around all of the rooftops in the city!
I had also scrambled to refresh myself on the few, particular Spanish words that I had learned years ago. Even though I’d likely end up using very little of the language, I felt like it would be helpful. So what does the city of Madrid have to offer? It has great architecture, beautiful parks to lazily stroll through, a relocated Egyptian temple, the El Prado museum, an unlimited amount of food or drink options, and a ton of available apartments for rent (thanks to the economy).
Our hostel was located in the heart of Madrid at Puerta del Sol (Gate of the sun). During the day, this area was bustling with football fans as the final match of the Copa del Rey competition between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona was set to begin. Spaniards from all walks of life; young, old, families, and couples, donned their respective football club jerseys and hit the town. The smaller groups eventually coalesced into large jovial gangs of football fans. As the sun went down and the night commenced, Puerta del Sol became party central. Laughter, shouting, and beer bottles breaking could easily be heard until the break of dawn.
When we woke up in the morning and wandered downstairs to grab some breakfast, we saw the aftermath. The smashing of glass had started again but this time the bottles were going into rubbish bins instead of on the street. Cleaning crews had replaced the drunken partygoers from the night before and were quickly cleaning up the area. We stumbled into a nearby restaurant and settled in for breakfast. I couldn’t tell if they were catering to foreigners or if it was regular Spanish breakfast fare, but I enjoyed ham, eggs, along with lots of coffee and orange juice. By the time we had finished our breakfast, the cleaning crews had vanished and the streets were ready to be thoroughly abused again that evening. Spain clearly knows how to party.
Now that we had settled in, it was time to enjoy everything Spain had to offer. Museums, the parks, and everything else I have already mentioned. Oh, and what would a trip to Spain be, without a visit to see a Spanish bullfight!