At 5 am, July 30th, I frantically woke up. I had to be at the Orlando airport at 12:30 pm (which was about an 1 hour and 45 minutes away) and in true Nikki fashion, I hadn’t packed yet. This is a running theme for all my trips. With the assistance of both my husband and my 4yo, I quickly packed up all my stuff. I was only taking one backpack, so it wasn’t that hard. However, I did forget my glasses, which would have been really nice to have during our camel ride. (That story will come later) It might seem odd for me to have flown from Orlando to Miami and then to Madrid, but my BFF lives right near the airport in Orlando, so I could leave my car with her and not have to pay parking fees.
Ready to go!
I arrived at the airport around 12:30 and security was a breeze. Now all I had to do was wait. So, of course, I parked myself at the bar and drank two VERY expensive margaritas. I was ready. Ready to embark on this 13 day journey. Ready to be a part from family, because we had worked out a two time a day Skype schedule so that it would be like I wasn’t even gone. If I only knew then what I know now about finding wifi. I flew American Airlines. The flight to Miami was fine. It was when I got to Miami that things started to go south.
At this point, I had arranged for Ashley to meet me at the Madrid airport. Little did I know that my flight would be delayed for hours, most of which was on the plane, which left me with no way to reach her and let her know. The first delay was because of lightning. If anyone knows me, then you know that I’m deathly afraid of it. I’ve been know to hide in windowless rooms during lightning storms. I was glad that for this delay we were still in the airport and not on the plane. Then, they announced that the bathrooms were broken on our plane, so we had to change gates and planes. Another delay. Finally, we were all on board, when we had to sit there for at least another hour because there was a severe storm in our flight path. Ok. I get it. Safety first, right? We take off and after a few hours, when the lights were off and almost everyone was asleep, we were hit with some severe turbulence and then hail. Did you read that? HAIL!!!!!! Now, let me set the scene. On my flight was a group of about 20 Jewish people going to Israel. Remember that this was during the time when the USA banned flying there, so they had to fly out of the USA to Europe and catch a flight from there. So picture this: Our plane hits a lot of severe turbulence and then it starts to hail. An Orthodox Hasidic Jewish Rabbi, head-to-toe in full religious garb, gets up and starts praying over each of the rows that the Jewish group were sitting. The only thing I could think of was Final Destination. I mean if the Rabbi is up praying, he must know something. Alas, we arrived, many hours late, but safely in Madrid on July 31st around 1pm.
Now, Ashley had been waiting for me for hours and when I finally linked to the airport’s wifi, I’m getting these hectic messages from her to hurry up. I was so stressed and tired that I went to passport control, got my stamp and walked back out the wrong way. Facepalm. I had to then re enter passport control, get another stamp and then take the airport metro to get to baggage claim to get out of the building where she was waiting. Let’s just say it wasn’t a fast process.
During this time, I had been making plans to meet up with Betty, but I had no way to tell her that my flight had been delayed. She later told me that she thought I was blowing her off. NEVER!
I finally met up with Ashley who greeted me very stressed out because she needed to go to the bank and cash her last paycheck. I didn’t quite see what the big deal was; however, after two banks, one long line and TONS of walking, I realized that banking in Spain is a lot different. We stopped at one point and had my first real tapas and caña! Bienvenida España! At this point, we headed to her apartment, opened a bottle of wine and started to get ready for the rest of our day.
Our first bottle of wine at Ashley’s apt.
Our plan was to meet up with Betty and Kai at the Museo del Prado and we were in luck, because it was free that last hour of the day. After a little bit of a search, we found Betty, then we were on quest for wifi (you will see that this is running theme during this trip) so that we could tell Kai where to meet us.
map to the Prado
Let’s just say that I’m not sure that Ashely has ever been in a museum and she isn’t an “art” person. At first she was a little over it, but I was impressed that she slowly came around to liking some of artwork. Kai and I were the leaders in discussing all of the works, their history and meanings, while Ashley and Betty listened and pointed out all the weird looking baby Jesus’, other characteristics and just a making good jokes about the paintings. It was great! I think Ashley warmed up to museums. I see her going to another one sometime in her life.
Her favorite part of the museum, the doors
Ashley getting excited over hot policía
Sunsetting in the streets of Madrid
We then walked through the streets of Madrid, heading in the general direction of where we were meeting her friends for dinner. In true Spanish culture, even at 9 pm, we were the only ones in the restaurant. They eat late there. We met up with Natalie and two of Ashley’s other friends. The food was delicious, the wine was amazing and the conversations were awesome. I even tried Bull Tail. It was good! One of my favorite Kai quotes came out of this dinner. We were talking about my fear of lightning and drunk-ish Kai says, “I’m afraid too. Because I’m always the tallest thing around.” LOVE
Betty cooking her steak. Yummy!
These two! Betty and Kai might not look thrilled, but they were!
Dinner moved to drinks to more drinks and more drinks. Bar hopping over there isn’t the same as over here. They actually have bars that close at midnight and then right down the street, that bar is just opening at midnight. I think it was around that time that Kai left because he had work in morning and Betty stayed with us. We went and danced, drank some more and then as we were leaving that place to go to the burlesque bar, which was just now opening up at 2 am, we met these really drunk guys that wanted to talk to Ashley. Funny thing, Ashley can speak decent spanish and her friend Natalie can speak perfect spanish. Some how with my horrible broken french, italian and spanish, every time Ashley didn’t understand him, he would turn to me and start speaking in spanish as if I knew what he was saying. I would just string together words from four different languages and he seemed to understand me. I actually know that if I’m at a certain, and it’s only a very small window of drunkenness, that all my language skills come back. This theory has been put to test, succeeded and will also apply later to dancing.
Being mermaids (I think?) on the poles in the street
For those of you who know Ashely and I, it was only a matter of time before we got into a huge blow out. If you picked our first night in Madrid, then Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! While waiting outside of the burlesque club, we started arguing and of course it escalated into a ginormous fight at 4 am in the streets of Madrid. We ended up storming off back to her apartment, leaving Betty and Natalie to go in to the club, and we carried out our argument through the desolate streets of Madrid. We were both tired. We were both dealing with different issues, but in the end, we were fighting over the same thing. We were just unable to make the connection. And really, I’m glad we got that fight over with earlier rather than later. However, on the walk back to Ashley’s apartment, we cut through a park. Yes, I know. Two drunk girls that are fighting should never cut through a park at 4:30 am. As we were walking (and arguing) a guy walked passed us with his penis hanging out of his pants. That’s right, his penis. Instantly, we stopped fighting and became acutely aware that he was now backing up to walk past us again, only this time, he was jacking off. Seriously? So what do two women do? We search our purses and find the only weapon: pens. We each grasped a pen in a Scream style grip and vowed that if he comes near us, we are going for his boys. At this point, we realized that Betty and Natalie are coming to the apartment and in true drunk girl logic, Ashely goes up to her apartment to use the wifi to try and tell them to NOT go through the park and I, once again in true drunk girl fashion, decide to stand on the park bench, pen in hand, to protect them if he comes back. He didn’t. The girls made it safely and we walked Natalie home and then, Betty and I crashed in Ashely’s room.
Welcome to Madrid! And Welcome to the next 13 days with someone that you just go into a huge argument. Let the adventure begin!
This is going to be a long trip.