This past weekend was my last full weekend in Madrid. I was planning on going to Barcelona, because it's one of the places I've wanted to see ever since learning about Spain. But, no one was able to come with me and I would much rather spend time with friends than traveling on my own, so I stayed in Madrid. I am so glad I did because I would have missed out on some quality time with my host family and some friends that I've made while I've been here.
Friday night, Erica and I went out to tapear (ta-pay-are). Yes, this is actually a word in Spanish, and guess what it means... to go out for tapas! So we went to an area of town famous for the tapas bars and went to three different places. Usually tapas bars are standing room only and to order you have to push your way up to the bar and shout what you want. I got this amazing tapa called a croquetta and it's basically a fried ball of cheese. So delicious!
We met a couple from Kentucky at the bar and talked with them for a bit and gave them tips of things they should do in the two days they are in Madrid. We then walked the crowded streets to a small pizza place because we knew they had amazing bread, so we just ordered a basket of bread and tinto de verano, a popular drink here that consists of red wine and sprite. By the time we left this place it was about 1am, which is still considered early for the Spanish on a weekend. We then found an ice cream place that was open until 2:30am, so we got ice cream and talked until they kicked us out.
As we ate our ice cream and people watched out the window, we heard whistling and Erica said it sounded like the Snow White song. I dismissed it, but soon enough a parade of guys dressed up like the dwarfs, with a guy dressed up like Snow White as their leader, marched past the window! Apparently stuff like this happens a lot in the summer because for people's bachelor/bachelorette parties they dress the groom/bride-to-be in a ridiculous costume and go bar hopping. Later this weekend I saw a party of girls all dressed up like matadors riding on the metro and singing Spanish songs.
Saturday I slept in and then my host mom's (Concha) daughter and her family came to eat lunch with us and stayed over the whole afternoon to swim in the pool at Concha's apartment. I helped Concha make lunch, fried chicken and salad, played with Susana and Ramon, her grandkids, took a two hour nap, and swam in the pool with the kids.
It is actually great to practice Spanish with kids because they speak in simple words but also use colloquial language. At night I went to see a movie with some friends from the church I've been going to at the cine de verano (literally, movie theater of summer), which is an outside movie theater, kind of like a drive-in, but it is only set up in the summer and you sit on chairs rather than in your car. We watched The Artist, which I had already seen on the plane on the way here but it was good to see it again with friends. Also, these friends are from Spain, so all night I got to practice my Spanish.
Sunday was another day full of experiences. I met Erica's host mom, Ester, and another girl who is living with them, Maria, and we all went to El Rastro, a huge flea market. It reminded me of being in Ecuador with all of the artisan stands, expect no bartering happens here, you just pay the price they tell you. We went out to eat at El Mercado de San Antón and got delicious empanadas, kabobs and gazpacho. Whenever Erica and I slipped into speaking Spanish, Ester scolded us and made us speak in Spanish even if it was hard to express ourselves. More great practice! By the end of yesterday I was thinking in Spanish.
Now it's the end of the weekend and the beginning of my last week here. I have plans to see a flamenco show, watch the sunset at this Egyptian temple, eat at Café Gijon (the famous café where Buñuel and Dalí would frequently meet up), see El Escorial and go to El Prado.