Study abroad has come to an end, and while I’ll continue to post entries I’d started over the last two months but never finished, I’m now onto the next adventure and want to keep up with the blog. My parents came to visit me in Spain yesterday and we’re spending Christmas here, New Year’s in Paris, and then a few days in Vienna. Extremely excited for the trip and want to remember it, so I figure I can write and update when they go to sleep and I feel the urge to be a bit of a night owl.
Yesterday began with my half-asleep self apparently deciding to turn off the silly alarm that was annoyingly trying to wake me up to catch the 7am bus to the airport. When my less than half-asleep realized this after missing a call from a friend at 6:30, he was not very happy. Luckily, we both got ready in time and made it to the bus and airport with plenty of time. The plan was to wait at the airport and meet my parents who would be arriving within a few hours from Boston via London. Basi, one of the amazing guys who worked with the program, drove all the way out to the airport to see everyone off. When everyone flying home went through security, he kept me company for a while as I waited for the flight from London to arrive.
Little did I know that the original flight from Boston had been delayed due to icing and my parents had not been able to make their second flight. I waited expectantly for nearly two hours by the arrival gate. Love Actually forgets to show this part of the airport reunion process. Luckily I was able to check my email when someone left an internet kiosk with time to spare, and discovered that my parents would not be arriving until 10 in the evening, nearly 11 hours after their original time. Dejected, I headed back into Madrid via metro, luggage and all.
Checked into the hotel and checked out of consciousness with an afternoon long siesta. Made up for the lack of sleep from the last week in Spain of final projects, exams and fiesta. Took some pictures around Sol as it was filled with people. Headed back to the airport and met Mom and Dad after another hour delay. Left our bags at the hotel and got some early churros at Chocolatería San Gínés and did some catching up.
Waking up this morning was difficult, but by 12 we made it out of the hotel and into the beautiful Christmas market at Plaza Mayor. While not filled with gifts to buy, the market is truly a Christmas market, containing all the necessities of the traditional Spanish Christmas: pieces for the nativity (belén), ornaments and decorations, Christmas trees and, of course, crazy colorful wigs. After shoving my way into La Mallorquina for three napolitanas de chocoalte, we boarded the MadridVision tourbus for some sightseeing. Fun to see the sights of Madrid as a tourist as I hadn’t done that while living here. We hopped off at the Prado for some art viewing and managed to get in a fair amount before being asked to leave as it was closing early for La Noche Buena. I’d forgotten it was Christmas Eve!
For lunch I introduced my parents to the kebap, the delicious persian dish seen throughout Spain. We then completed the bus tour and explored the Mercado de San Miguel, a very cool indoor market near Plaza Mayor. The Market was in full swing with tourists and families wandering about, eating, drinking and being merry. Some stalls were closed, but the rest made up for it, selling seafood, chocolate, wine and all sorts of foods. Taking a long cut back to the hotel, we wandered through Opera and the area around Sol.
After a brief siesta we decided to get some tapas for dinner. We didn’t realize how empty the streets would be for Christmas Eve and soon found ourselves at an abandoned La Latina metro stop not knowing what direction to go in. Clearly the best plan of action was to follow the Italian family that left the metro station before us. Our guides led us to a beautifully lit church but then decided to head down a side street behind the church and so, fearing they might sneakily lead us into a mass somewhere, we abandoned them and continued down the main road. Soon we reached a destination quite far from the one intended and ended up with another scenic long cut by the Palacio Real and up Calle Mayor.
With still no open restaurants in sight we headed back to Sol where I asked a pleasant city worker where there might be a fine dining establishment open for us. Hoy? Es Noche Vieja! Apparently there were none. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from studying in Spain, you can always count on the chinos to save you. Rephrasing my question, I asked for restaurantes asiáticos and he was able to send us in the correct direction. Mom saw some signs which we followed and we soon found a restaurant. A brief wait and we had a table. The host reminded us how lucky we were saying that every restaurant in the city was closed, except the chinos. The food was delicious and we made headed back home full of tasty food and Christmas spirit. Had a quick photo shoot (see below) then headed in for the night. Currently my plan is working as my parents are asleep and I am finishing up the first blog post while listening to some Christmas tunes. Tomorrow the plan is to head to Segovia and see what we can find to do on Christmas day. Merry Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad!