January 21

Today I definitely did not start at my best. I woke up feeling really sick. Ryan, Joe and I decided to sleep off our jet lag. My headache from the night before definitely didn’t help my cause. At about two o’clock we all finally got up and each showered. Ryan and Joe went to a local restaurant called the Zahara Café but I decided to stay back and update the blog.

Ryan brought back Madrid’s version of the club sandwich. It was delicious. I had my first European coke (the taste wasn’t actually half bad but I compare it to a half way decent coke zero). Just an indication of how different society treats alcohol: the vending machines sell beer. We all decided we wanted to see the city and set off into downtown Madrid. Ryan ended up stopping in a store across the street name Telefonica to buy a pre-paid cell, which was an experience. The store was completely white with transparent glass floors. Its probably best described as an upscale Best Buy. We went to the associate counter at the back of the store to get his new phone situated.

I decided I was going to wait to get to Valencia to buy one. After we got his phone all loaded we stopped in a McDonalds because Joe was thirsty. Once again, this was a crazy experience. First off the only common menu item McDonald’s have between Europe and the U.S. is the McPollo. I was a little outraged that there was no dollar menu. After we left we went to the same department store/supermarket called Corte Ingles. We decided to follow in similar footsteps of the night before and get some more wine.

We walked back to the Tryp Gran Via and quickly dropped off all of our stuff before we went out exploring. We went down some side streets and came across the Plaza Mayor. It was a huge courtyard with hundreds of people passing through on their way to different shops and restaurants. There are entertainers that dress up as pretty funny American movie characters like Mickey Mouse and I even saw a midget Chewbacca. We kept going and found another side courtyard that had a Red Bull rally in it. We were late and missed the show but it was still cool seeing such a huge spectacle in such a small, beautiful courtyard.

As we retraced our steps we saw a Mariachi band playing under the Carlos III statue. They were really good. After taking a few more pictures we headed back to the hotel to be in time for dinner at 8:00. Dinner was not the best, the chicken was dry, the tilapia was cold but the chicken nuggets were great. I’ve enjoyed dinnertime though because that is like the time that everyone meets together and swaps stories with each other. One of the things I have really enjoyed is tables have four to six place settings are set up in such a way that we get to really sit with new people every night. I love talking to people about their major/minor because while we all mostly have completely different disciplines, yet we all have Spanish in common.

Itor stood up and reminded us that we had a scheduled bus tour of the city. I was really excited to see more than the two blocks around us. We got on the bus right after dinner and headed on our way. I sat next to really nice girl named Grace that went to Pius. Itor spoke on the microphone in the bus for the tour but was almost impossible to understand because he was too spoke way too fast and talked into the microphone like a snow cone. I ended up kind of tuning out the confusing Spanish and instead talked to the people sitting around me.

We stopped at Real Madrid’s Stadium, El Estadio del Santiago Bernabeu. It was huge. Ryan informed me that the reason why Real Madrid had such a good soccer team because the King had part ownership of the club and they had basically an unlimited budget to sign who they want. We only had five minutes to snap pictures before filing back on the bus toward our next destination. The streets are designed so different but welcomed. For example the stoplights don’t hang over the intersection like in Georgia, instead they are at the corners of every intersection. Another thing I like about the design of the streets is the cross walks aren’t at intersections, but rather in the middle of the block. They are huge and perfect to move the bustling crowds of Madrid quickly from side to side.

We kept driving for about five minutes and came on the King’s Palace. It was a gigantic and put the White House to shame. I found out that the King doesn’t actually live in the Palace but actually he lives north of city. After seeing a few more sites from the window of the bus, we stopped back at the Hotel and got our night started. We had about twelve people in our room this time, which was a lot of fun. I got to know a lot of people really well, for example reacquainted with a girl that went to South name Leah that worked at Kroger with me. It was really cool to talk to everyone. At 12:30 we went down to the lobby of the hotel as arranged a few hours before to meet up with the group.

After a lot of waiting I went out and met up with George from Georgia again. He told us about a bar that would give free cover charges and free drinks for large groups. About twenty of us headed that way. The sign said it was an Irish pub but it was far from it, the dead give away was the giant disco ball in the middle of the room. We hung out there for a while then headed on to the next bar. A different promoter promised us the same deal as the first and we obliged, especially because its nickname is Bourbon. It reminded me of Athens. The bouncers were mean and carded us all; I thought it was hilarious because Grace didn’t bring her ID so we had to pass back (just like Athens Bourbon Street).

After hanging out there we headed back in the general direction of the hotel; we met up with half of the group randomly down a side alley near our hotel and we all ended up having a late LATE night in our room. We were all rocking out to Lil Wayne and Diego impressed us all with some sick free styling. At eight in the morning those of us that were still awake made our way down to the lobby for breakfast. I’ll finish the rest of my eventful day with tomorrow’s post. I am having an absolute blast.

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