January 22

After breakfast, Taylor and Mary Claire (both from Highland Park High School in Dallas) and I decided to go find a cup of coffee and explore the city. After walking for about a mile or so, we stopped at a coffee shop named Café Cotidano and had a cup. We decided after about fifteen minutes later to leave and keep walking around. Since none of the three of us had slept, Mary Claire decided she wanted to go back to the Tryp Gran Via. After we walked her back Taylor and I walked for a while and came across an entire district that is undergoing a major renovation. There was a side street that we decided to head down and actually came across an Art School. Some students were standing outside and we started to talk to them and ask where they are from.

Most people I have come across I think get pretty frustrated with my Spanish. If they speak English they quickly inform me that they speak English. It kind of stinks having to explain to them that I need to practice my Spanish. I met a student from North Carolina but had grown up in Madrid. After talking to them for about thirty minutes, we set off back to the Hotel. It was a really cool experience. I feel like my Spanish has gained leaps and bounds in only the three days that I have been here. Once we walked what felt like three miles we got back to the Hotel and took a much-needed nap.

I woke up a few hours later and we were all pretty hungry. We had heard about a great sandwich called el Museo del Jamon (the Ham Musuem). The group of us that decided to go was Joe, Ryan, Kristen (she went to South Forsyth High School and lives about a mile and half away from me) and Sean (a really cool, quiet kid that is so nice). It was about a five-minute walk through la Plaza del Sol.

I felt really unwelcome the entire time I was there. The restaurant was three stories tall. In the basement there was a quick serve bar that you could walk up to and order. The guy working there told us that we needed to go upstairs to get the food. We were unsure why but listened to him and went up a flight of stairs. At the second floor we stood in line for about five minutes before we had a woman come up to us and said that we needed to go up one more story to get our food. We went up again. I felt like they didn’t want to deal with us so they just kept passing us off to the next person because we were American. At the top of the stairs there was another line. We were second in line, but trying to scope out how long it looked like the wait would be, I went took a few steps forward and leaned to see around the corner into the main room. The group in front of us had a grumpy old man with a cane it. He started yelling at me saying he was first in line. I told him I understood and was just looking at how long the line was. The man kept making comments about stupid Americans. I told him that I loved his country. He sarcastically replied, “I love America!”

I’m not to sure what warranted his hatred toward us but I tried to shake it off. After getting a seat, it took about another ten minutes to see a server. I ordered two bocadillos (it basically means a sandwich on a hoagie roll), I got one that was chorizo (a spicy sausage) and the other was ham. While I was disappointed it didn’t come with cheese, it was delicious.

After we left, we went back to the hotel and I decided to update the blog. Joe, Ryan, Kristen and I all hung out in our room. I have had some of the coolest conversations with some people on the trip. Even just in three days I have made so many great friends. I took a shower and got ready for dinner. The quality of dinner that has been served at the Hotel has gotten progressively worse each night. Luckily I was still full from lunch so I barely ate anything. After dinner, Itor explained to us our Itinerary for tomorrow which included the bus ride to Valencia! I have loved being in Madrid but can’t wait to get settled in to Valencia.

Some more people came and to hang out in our room until it was a good time to go out. The locals don’t even think about going out to the bars and discotheques until around 12:30. A group of about twenty people from our trip met in the lobby at 12:30 to head on out. The best strategy to pay the least amount of money is to walk as a big group and wait for the different club promoters standing on every street come and negotiate free entry and drinks. We went to an Irish bar that we had been to the night before as a whole group and hung out there for a while. Some people left in groups sporadically to continue on their way to a different bar but I stayed back with Laura, Caroline and Ashley. They are so much fun. After getting one more free drink at the Irish bar, we took off in search of the next deal.

We ran into about six others that we started our night with and went into a dark bar that was blaring American music. We got our standard promised free drink and headed to the dance floor. There were some people from California there and we dominated the dance floor. Laura tore it up with some sick dance moves. It was so hot though and the four of us decided to keep moving to another bar. We came to a bar that I had been to the night before and sized it up. We saw some Americans standing outside and asked them where they were headed. We all ended up going in. There were two guys that I met from the University of Iowa that we staying in Valencia for the semester too but we in Madrid for the weekend.

We ended up going to the basement of the bar and sitting with them and talked. By chance there were two students from Mexico that were studying in Spain for the semester too and we talked to them for a while about differences in expressions between Latin America and Spain. I thought it was so cool that we had the opportunity to do that. We ended up staying at the bar for a while. We ventured upstairs to the dance floor and I met three middle-aged men that were all from Madrid. I mainly talked to one of the guys named Oscar, he seemed most patient with my Spanish. The night finished out well, Madrid was incredible but it only scratched the surface of what is to come in these next three months.

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