Monday, September 20, 2010

All we needed was a guide!

So, this is going to be a pretty short blog post since basically we did a lot of traveling and sitting around. So I will be adding another special edition blog post later today, that should be of particular interest to my feline readership.

So we sat the alarm for 9 AM, and it went off and we kind of all staggered awake slowly but surely. The bar next to our window had been open late again and so it turned out that Eric didn't actually get to bed until like 5 AM since it was so loud and he was working and he just couldn't get to sleep. But it is Eric, and he is used to a lack of sleep, so I am sure that it will be fine.

I actually think that Eric operates better on little or no sleep, it is like his default mode. In fact, look how excited he is about our bags being packed.

So we had been planning on going to breakfast at the hotel, but we haven't finished packing and it is about 10 already. Our bus leaves at 11, so we are a little bit worried about how that is going to go. We decide to skip out on breakfast since,
a) It was not that good to begin with
b) it took forever to get
c) we figured that we could get better food at the bus station.

So we head down to check out and we ask the lady for a taxi. The front desk has been less than helpful our entire time at this hotel, and we thought that we would just ask them to call a taxi. And the lady informs us that she can't call them because they probably wouldn't answer the phone since it is a Sunday...was it a Sunday?... wow, yes it was a Sunday.

So she explains that we should just walk up the street to the taxi stop and that would work better.

Get out of my hotel! but... taxi?.. GET OUT! (not really, she didn't yell at us)
So we walk up the road and we find a little taxi sign, but there are no taxis, so we are unsure about what to do. We decide to head up the road some more since it seems like there might be more taxis at a more major road.

We luck out, there are indeed taxi's there. I had been worried that the lady was just trying to drive us away and had just told us there were taxis up here to get us to leave. So we snag the first one in line, load our stuff off and away we go!

We get to the bus station in relatively good time, showing up at about 10:30. However, there is no food! What are we going to do. We need food if we are to survive for the 5 hour bus ride. In sort of a mild panic we head outside to asses our options, which are thus:

1) Run down the street to the McDonalds
2) Run across the street to some little cafe's

The cafe's are closer, but we don't know exactly what they serve, they might actually be real restaurants and we can't get anything to go. We gamble and choose the cafe's. The first place we walk into is actually a bar and as we stand there I figure we should at least check out the other place and so I bound off to the next store.

She doesn't speak english!!! yikes.... So I brokenedly ask "... uh... comida para llevar?" which means food to go? She sort of understands and says si, and so I ask Cuantos Minutos? And she rambles at me in spanish and I assume she is basically saying something like it depends on what you order.

I tell here one moment and run back to the other place and gather the group. We order our sandwiches and Allison gets an apricot thing. We are in good shape it is only about 10:45. So we head back across the street to the bus station and get on our bus. There is no bathroom on the bus which is very troubling, and seems weird considering it is a 5 hour bus ride. I guess Spaniards have amazing bladders?

So we head out and the bus is pretty smooth. Eric and Chris B. work on their conference stuff, Allison, who had a very talkative seatmate who told her multiple times that he made a lot of money, listened to her iPod and I read some more.

Eric working:
The bus ride is smooth enough, but it turns out that the bus actually stopped... so we didn't have to go hurrying around for food. We could have just eaten at the most amazing rest stop ever. Not only did it have tons of food, but the bathrooms, while containing weirdly sloped sinks, were actually clean! Also, there was a museum of olive oil on the second floor.

I am not sure this picture shows it clearly, but this is us in the bus stop.

The stop was 30 minutes and so we grabbed some food and then we ate and used the bathroom and hurried back on the bus. I was actually the last person on the bus. (I waited until the last moment to go to the bathroom, just in case)

The rest of the bus ride was pretty uneventful. I have now passed Eric in our book though. Which Eric is sad about. I try not to talk about it a lot though.

We arrive in Madrid actually a few minutes early and we head for the metro to get to our apartment. Being in Madrid is almost like old hat for us and we easily navigate the metro and our soon on our way.

Here is Allison and Chris B. on the metro. You may have noticed by now that they were all wearing greenish shirts. I felt left out, but I did not have anything that was green. Woe is me! I guess that makes me stand out more?

We arrive at the apartment at 4:30 and magically run into the guy we are supposed to meet as he is going in. What an amazing coincidence! It was great. We had been worried about how that was going to work.... We have to get cash to pay the rent, but that works out way better than we thought since the ATM is just about right below the apartment, and the guy was really nice. He even gave us a really good tapas recommendation!

Todd is somewhere in the city and so he soon finds his way to the apartment and our party is strengthened by one, once again. Since we are all CS majors, we tend to huddle around and use WiFi whenever we can. Here we are IM'ing each other in the same room instead of just talking ;).
I decided that I need to do laundry, so I start that. This is supposedly a washer/dryer... at least that is what I assume since there is not a dryer in the apartment. I don't really know how that works. We should have asked the guy before he left. So I start a load of laundry and hope that everything works out ok. I don't add my conference stuff since I want to make sure it works before I do that.

At 8 we are supposed to meet with one of Chris B.'s friends from Denver who now lives in Madrid teaching music at a school. His name is Chris Suazo... which is yet another Chris... so... I am not sure yet how I will get around that.

Anyway, he takes us for a little walk through Madrid or a very small part of it on our way to a few tapa's bars that he knows. He his great! Knowledgeable and friendly, and he knows his way around. Walking around Madrid again actually feels pretty comfortable, we are in the same basic area that we were in last time and despite the fact that we were only there for three days I seem to remember the area fairly well, which is nice. Oh... so I asked him why so many people in Spain made out in parks and roman ruins and he informed us that it was mostly because they often don't have places of their own. The either shares flats or even live with their parents, so parks are one way to sort of be out on your own.

He takes us to a tapas bar and... it is full of people. Absolutely packed, this is the type of place that we have been scared to go into. But he leads us in and explains that you have to order from the bar (which Eric and I and you have to wait around for a space. So he orders us some ciders and he gets 3 plates of tapas!!! Wow, and they are all amazing. We stand around unsure what to do and eventually we see some space that has cleared so we head back there and maneuver for a spot and settle in.

Here is Eric and our trusty guide, enjoying tapas in our little corner. The tapas are great, and we can't believe that we actually got 3 plates worth! We get another round since we figure that we are kind of settled in and so we should enjoy it while we can.
THREE MORE PLATES OF TAPAS!!!! One is croquettes, (basically jalepeno poppers only with a sort of ham paste, one is garlic fries, and the other is ham on bread)

After our second round, people are beginning to crowd in and to try and steal our area. Also Chris Suazo gets a call from his partner and they are going to go to this little fish market place that is just down the road, so we manage to wrangle ourselves out of our corner and like hungry wolves going after prey, the patrons of the bar soon fill in the area.

We get to the bar pretty quickly, and Chris Suazo, is friends with the bartender and they shake hands and he tells him that we are his friends from the U.S. and that he is showing us around. The bartender is amazing. We order a round and.... get more tapas!!! Hurrah!
One of our plates of tapas:

Chris and Chris and Todd talking and enjoying Tapas.We order another round and we get more Tapas, in fact, we even sometimes get tapas just because the bartender thinks that we look hungry. (like I said, he was great)

Here is a shot of me... explaining something or ... I don't know what, all the tapas (read the drinks that came with them) sort of went to my head.

We also ordered sort of a russian roulette kind of tapa. Some huge plate of peppers and there are just a few that are really super spicy and then the rest are mild and normal.

This is what they looked like. I wasn't close enough to the other plate to count. But I got 1 very spicy one and 1 medium spicy one and eric got 2 very spicy ones and 3 medium spicy ones.. soo... I win? I don't know how to keep score. The peppers were very good though. When we got the played we were like... woah! and the bartender smiled and said "Ooo lala" Did I mention he was awesome?
Soon Chris Suazo's partner arrived with a friend and more drinks were order and more food was brought to us. It was like a never ending supply if tapas! It was amazing.

Allison also got in on the party, drinking several hard ciders and sangria like drinks.

Eventually that took a toll:
By the time we were finished with tapas we were all very full and very happy. Allison pounded her last drink and to commerate the bartender notice and... brought us more tapas, some more little croquette things.

We finally say our goodbyes and profuse thanks to Chris Suazo for being our guide and showing us great tapas and helping us through it and we head home for the night.

I check my laundry and... it isn't really dry... so I am not sure what exactly is up with it. I decide to just hang it up for the night and let it dry. (This works pretty good as in the morning they are nice and crisp and dry)

Yay for laundry!


akrizman said...

Suazo! It's been years since I last saw him; he's looking good as always.

Eric said...

Yeah, the latest Chris was awesome. And his partner and friend that came along were both really fun and friendly too. I could not have eaten even one more pepper or dumpling thing by the time we left. So much tapas!

I love that last picture of Allison.