For days I had been wondering what I would do with my two weeks of time off around Easter. I had scheduled them guided by the holidays throughout the week, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do throughout. Two weeks, after all, were going to be too much idle time for me to know what to do with myself.
On a whim, I checked for cheap plane tickets. What about Madrid? I could go visit my friend then. Oh, would you look at that. I’m going to Madrid for a week.
An unplanned trip, unlike my last one to Malmö. I’d stay at my friend’s house, and he’d show me around. We would talk and hang out after a few years of not being around each other. Sure, we keep in touch through the Internet, but it would be nice to be able to go places together. The only things I knew for certain would be that I would be seeing him, and that we’d go up a mountain by his house.
The flight there was uneventful, which is a great metric for plane rides. As a side note, my plane ride was quicker than him going from his house to mine. Regardless, we met, we hugged and then we set out to walk, my backpack and camera in tow.
It’s odd to meet somebody you’ve kept in contact through the Internet after so long. Sure, we have shared some photos and we know things have changed. But… It never quite sinks in how much that’s been. Some things are easier to ignore when all you have to go on are texts, voice messages and the occasional photo or video call. Having him in person, as a human being I can see and touch… It was great. And odd. And I knew we’d have plenty of time to adjust to each other throughout the week.
The first stop was a coffee shop in Moncloa. We needed to eat breakfast and had some time to kill until I could get the monthly pass for transport. Why the monthly? Well, it turns out that if you qualify, it’s only 26€ for the thing versus however much else I would have spent just on taking the bus from and to his house.
Then, he took me to Puerta del Sol, and nearby streets as a first introduction to the touristic side of the city. I’ll admit I don’t remember much from it. Perhaps it was the sun, perhaps it was being overwhelmed by the trip, or the people. Or maybe it is my preference for spaces inhabited by the people who live in the city, instead of the well-kept, well prepared places that are the common tourist attractions.
Vividly, I remember the coffee shop and what we ate. I remember the tunnel we went through, and the stop at the park. I remember the exhibition we watched, the small food market we went past. I remember the coffee we drank later that afternoon, until eventually we went home.
From talking to him, I knew his living conditions weren’t exactly cushy. He shared a room with his brother, and the place wasn’t too big. It was cramped. But he’d said it was fine, and I’m not one to not take people for their word. It was a surprise, as it hadn’t sunk in just how small it was. However, a part of me remembered what it was like to live in the old apartment, back across the small Atlantic pond.
Regardless, by the time we got home there wasn’t much time to do anything. We were tired, and for once they had gotten together for dinner as a way to say “welcome”. A nice dinner, eating arepas. Then? Sleep.
A solid start to the week.