On the 24th of March I woke up very early. Next to me, Sunshine getting organized. The night train was still rattling its way through the landscape. I looked outside the window and was absolutely baffled for a moment: Snow. Every inch of the hills was covered in icy doom. The very first thought that came to my mind was: Did we take the right train??
Good Morning, Brain. I realised that we were driving through the mountains of Pyrenees. But I wasn't the only one shocked. Sunshine and I woke Johanna and Nita. Half asleep they looked outside and panic flashed their eyes. Nita's first instinct was:
"We didn't pack the right shoes!"
We laughed so hard! Of all the things she could have said, this sentence was the most adorable!
The train stopped in La tour de Carol where we took a bus over the Spanish border and then took another train to Barcelona.
After we've freed ourselves from our luggage at the train station (large locker: ca. 5€, but 4 backpacks fit in there), we went out and walked around the city. At the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya we looked over the city. Behind this huge building there's a botanic garden where we watched little parrots play and fly to their nests. We enjoyed the smell of flowers and the humming of bees. And the sun...so warm! We took off our coats and for the first time in forever it felt like summer. Real Summer Sun. The kind of summer sun that only Mediterrainean cities have!
In the late afternoon we returned to the train station and took a train to Madrid. Three hours later we found ourselves pretty tired, but happy at our hostel. La Posada de Huertas Hostel is clean, good organised, you get nice rooms for a good price. It has a kitchen for self-catering and nice staff if you need help. A good hostal to get to know other backpackers and chill out with them a little. Afterwards falling into bed feels even better, because the world has been nice to you.
The next day (25th of March) we got up early and took part in the free walking tour. Our guide showed us around and made us realise that in Madrid a lot of places and doors which are not of interest or invisible to the normal eye mostly harbour the best secrets. This is my favourite story of the tour (and it contains Nuns, so you know that it's gotta be good):
Behind a pretty heavy but inconspicuous wooden door there are nun's who never show their face. The story behind it all is that once there were nuns who decided they wanted to seperate themselves from the outside world to pray and decided to build up sturdy walls and lock themselves in. But what do you do besides praying all day? Easy: They made candy and do it traditionally still today. (Of course, I mean replacing social contact for candy seems to do the trick for ladies all around the globe.) They sell the self-made candy, but the only way to get the candy is through a little secret compartment in the heavy wooden door. You put your money in the compartement then a devolving door makes a turn and the nun's exchange your money for candy. It's that simple! (And a little freaky, because you won't see them... ever... I'm serious. )
We then met up with two friends: Bonita, a Spanish girl we got to know at our University in Germersheim and Chico, a German boy who studies for a semestre in Spain. [Codenames again to give my friends the privacy they deserve.]
Together we took a stroll around the parque de buen retiro and they showed us the city from the insider perspective, but it began to rain heavily. The rain in Spain.... (It had never rained in UK, but when we're in Spain the rain won't stop...How ironic...).
So we decided to get drinks and tapas instead of running around the city getting more and more drenched by the hour. We chose 100 Montaditos for drinks and a bite to eat. For ca. 1,50€ you get a huge drink and little "bocadillos", baguettes, ( for 1€ each) with tapa toppings such as: jamón, chorizo, tortilla or even chocolate toppings.
The evening was lovely: we talked and laughed, we drank and ate. But even good things have to end eventually. We hugged eachother goodbye and had to find our way back to our hostel.
The streets were still filled with people, but mostly demonstrators and policemen now. The people protest against the budget cuts. According to Bonita peaceful demonstrators were brutally struck down by the policemen a few days ago. In this night the police seemed ready to go against the protestors again.Tension filled the air and the darkness of the night promised danger and violence.
We fled from the scenery just to find ourselves awake for hours in our bunk beds.