I last posted a blog entry on Friday afternoon and since then, I have experienced my first weekend in Madrid and have had my first taste of the Spanish night life. I now officially understand the need for a siesta every afternoon. It is because Spaniards stay out until 6am every night. On Friday night, I met up with a couple friends to go to a club that is a few blocks from my apartment. Google maps in hand, (a neon, flashing TOURIST sign over my head would have had the same effect) I was ready for the night. On our way to the club, at around midnight, there were so many small children out playing. I mean, I don't like children to begin with, but shouldn't these three and four-year-olds be in bed at midnight? I had a 7pm bedtime until high school. I think that is how Spaniards learn to stay up so late...they start this ridiculous sleep regiment at birth and never have to adjust. At the club, we danced to a combination of Lady Gaga, Spanish music, and the occasional Train song. Hey Soul Sister can sincerely kill the vibe on the dance floor. We all bought exactly two drinks because drinks run 8 to 10 euro a pop. It was a fun night overall, but we had to be up early the next morning to go to Toledo, so we ONLY stay out until around 2:30am.
Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities that I've ever seen. Spaniards call it the City of Three Cultures because for hundreds of years, Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived together in this one small city without any conflict. The entire city is surrounded by el Rio Tajo, which serves as a natural moat the protect the city. There is also a wall that surrounds the city.
What amazed me about Toledo was how old everything is. This is a city that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1400s (except for the addition of plumbing and electricty). The United States wasn't even discovered at that time. We took a tour of the city, explored a church and a synagogue, and saw the masterpiece of El Greco. Then we ate some lunch (I had a calamari sandwich...muy rico) and tried to do some shopping (but all of the stores were closed because of la siesta).
On Saturday night, we ventured to the clubs once again, this time without my google maps. In the main plaza in Madrid, there are club promoters who try to get people to come to their club by offering them discounts on the cover fee on on drinks. The cover fee runs around 15 euro and drinks are very expensive as well. We spent the evening following club promoters around downtown Madrid. After 3 hours, we had been to 5 different clubs, danced our hearts out, and had extremely tired feet. We found one club (that was most likely a gay bar) where they played Madonna, Cindy Lauper and a variety of fantastic 80s dance songs. It was a fantastic night in Madrid.
Every Sunday morning, there is a giant flea market call El Rastro. It is a terrifying experience where thousands of bargain shoppers crowd the streets of Madrid to find the best deals. Vendors line their booths up on the side of the street and floods of shoppers fill the space in between. Anything that you could ever want, you can find at El Rastro (however, much of the treasures at El Rastro appear to have been pick-pocketed off of American tourists). I bought a white and grey flowered dress for only 5 euro (Even the flea market is expensive in Europe).
Later that day, we went shopping at more traditional stores. There is a shopping section of El Plaza del Sol, which is 10 minutes from my apartment. I bought a skirt from Zara that looks very European. I'll fit right in. For dinner, the entire family came over to eat homemade cannoli spinach pasta. All of the Spaniards talked very fast and the three Americans sat at the end of the table in silence, simply trying to follow the conversation.
It was an eventful weekend. Good thing that I have the week to recover and catch up on sleep! I'll write again soon.