The beginning of the trip was a little shaky. We decided to take a bus to the bus station this time rather than a taxi and save a little money, but we didn't consider how horrible the traffic is around 1 PM here. Our bus to Madrid left at two...without us. We went to see if we could switch our tickets to a different time. Nope. We had to buy new ones. And we ended up on different buses, so Alisha got to Madrid about an hour before I did. Once we were both there, we took the metro to Gran Via and took about a half an hour to find our hostel. It was on the seventh floor of this building and not really marked, so we passed it a few times. The place was really nice, and the couple who owned it was really sweet and helpful. We shared a room with a couple of guys, one from Wisconsin and one from New Jersey, and they were both really nice, although we didn't meet them until the next morning- they were still out when we went to bed.
The next day, Saturday, we had breakfast at the hostel, then went out to explore a little before meeting Abby and Tina. The weather was awful- windy and raining on and off. Apparently it was about eighty degrees and sunny in Granada on Saturday. Clearly bad weather just follows me everywhere in Spain. It was still fun walking around and taking pictures, though. We went to Abby and Tina's hostel around 1, but they weren't there yet so we went to a little Italian restaurant across the street to have lunch while we waited. We finally saw them walk up to their hostel and I nearly wiped out running to meet them. I was SO happy to see Abby. After being so far away from home for a couple months, seeing a familiar face was the best feeling in the world. I'd met Tina once before, when I had visited Abby in Boston, and she was just as nice as I'd remembered. We decided to meet up again at four so they could check in and relax after their flight, so Alisha and I headed back to our hostel, first stopping at a supermarket to buy microwave popcorn (our host family doesn't have a microwave and we've been desperate for popcorn, so when we found out our hostel had a microwave we took full advantage of it).
At four, we met up with Abby and Tina and went to Plaza Mayor. Besides being an absolutely beautiful part of the city, there are lots of really unusual street performers. Madrid must be obsessed with Disney characters, especially Mickey, Minnie, and Winnie the Pooh, because I saw three or four of each of them. The best, though, was Fat Spiderman. Weird, I know, but my friend Stevie, who came here last year, told me to look for him, and he was well worth the search. He was hilarious. He spoke English, so we had fun talking with him about crime fighting and his spidey babies (which is why we had to donate a few cents-gotta support the spidey family) and taking some great pictures with him. After that, we bought coffee (and hot chocolate in Abby's and my case), checked out a few souvenir shops, and went back to our hostels to rest until dinner.
At eight thirty we met up again and walked around until we stopped at the least crowded and most appetizing restaurant we could find. It was great; I hadn't really gone out to eat (besides tapas) before then, and the food was amazing. Abby had croquettas for the first time too (we have them at home a lot and Kristen and I devour them) so it was fun watching her react to one of the most delicious Spanish dishes. After we were done eating we looked for a bar. The first one we stopped at was horrible. The bartender was a complete ass, and the place was packed wall-to-wall (trying to walk from the bar to the bathroom was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life). We left pretty quickly. The next bar was a little better, and we each got a free sangria, which was nice, but we were pretty tired and ended up going back to our hostels pretty early (and by early I mean like 1:30, which when most people start going out here). We met up the next morning and went to a cafe for breakfast, and then Alisha and I headed to the bus station nice and early so we wouldn't have a repeat of Friday.
The ride back was torture thanks to an obnoxious couple sitting in front of us. PDA is not uncommon here. I don't like it much, but usually I can ignore it. Not on Sunday. The girl would climb into her boyfriend's lap every five minutes to make out with him. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep so I wouldn't have to watch them. I listened to my iPod so I could tune out their disgusting smacking noises. I turned up the volume so I wouldn't have to hear them giggling stupidly into each other's mouths. I finally managed to ignore them, but I still really hoped that the bus would make a really abrupt stop and send their slobbering faces slamming into the seats in front of them. I understand it's a long bus ride, but seriously, buy a crossword puzzle or something and spare your fellow passengers five hours of nausea and discomfort. We were beyond thrilled to get back to Granada.
Monday was a holiday here and we didn't have class, so the school week is even shorter than usual. My friend Emily is coming here on Sunday for spring break and I'm unbelieveably excited to see her and show her around! Hmm...what else...I seem to have a talent for embarrassing myself in front of Mamache's gorgeous son. Is he ever in the house when I'm dressed to kill, perfectly coifed and made up, and feeling remotely self-confident? No. He always sees me when I'm wearing my frumpiest outfit, having the worst hair day, and doing stupid, uncoordinated things like running into tables or nearly taking him out with the kitchen door on accident. Yay life.
Anyway, there's not much else particularly interesting to say. I'll try to update next weekend after Emily's visit.