Frigid Madrid

I love when people write me saying they’ve enjoyed taking the journey, too, and are sad to see it end. With that in mind, here is what we all did today.

We were really sad to leave Lisbon last night. House Grandma fed us soup and cake and gave us a big hug. We’ve loved House Grandma ever since the “Who got better English training debate” between her and house guy.

Portuguese House Grandma: “I know American English.”

Portuguese House Guy with British Accent: “I was taught proper English.”

Grandma: “You sound like the QUEEN!”

Guy: “Well… you sound AWFUL.”

We were excited to get on the night train to Madrid, and even more excited because our ticket said window seat, which is nice because we can’t afford the sleeper compartments and window seats let us lean on our snow coats and sleep well.

Except an old man is in our seat. Ugh, we don’t want to fight with the old man. Aisle seat it is.

There is a man, woman and two-year-old child in our coach. The little girls name is Sarah – “Saw-rah.” Sarah, like any child stuck on an overnight train, is miserable and wailing. “Aguaaaaa! Aguaaaaa!”

Everyone is a little annoyed, but what are you going to do, families need to go places too, of course. Except we all hate her mother, who – if Sarah is talking “this” loud – mom is responding harshly “THIS” loud. It would be silent in the compartment but for Sarah’s little whimpers and Mom would loudly and out-of-the-blue snap. Heads would jerk from their almost-slumbers, everyone was annoyed… Mom was terrible.

“Aguuaaaa. Aguuaaaaaa.”


Oh my… I think she wants AGUUUAAAAA.

Mom and Dad got in a fight in the middle of the night, too. Dad’s elbow slammed into my (our) chair, just missing my (our) head as he stormed out the door while we were at a stop.


Anyway, we’re in our aisle seat and we’re sore. Something has taken a toll on us, maybe all the walking and climbing, or just that we’ve been sitting in a chair for six hours, and it is now impossible to get comfortable.

We don’t look at a clock to see what time it is. Our ticket says we arrive at 9:03a.m. We’ll get there.

Sun rises, Sarah is awake, mom is harshly loudly annoying again… We’ll get there. We’ll get there.

We’ve got to be close.


When we pulled into the station, a look at the clock informs us it’s 11:39a.m.

We get to our hostel by 1 after a very musical metro trip. Upon arrival at the first metro stop, doors open and a girl is singing “Fly Me To The Moon” – our favorite! On the next ride, a man has an accordion. He hops off and another woman with a microphone and karaoke machine hops on. She’s singing something serious. Something Spanish. Something sensual.

It was probably about Christmas. What do we know.

The hostel is alright. It’s in a decent location, but it’s not one of the homey hostels full of love and cookies. It’s the generic “Here is your key, lock your valuables, and your room is the one with seven bunk beds, we’ve given you the most basic of sheets and blanket.”

It’s fine. We’re here one night.

We try to sleep, but we need both sleep and food, and without both the headache is going to persist, so we give up on the nap and wander into town.

It is cold in Madrid today. You could see your breath. We realized quickly that we’d have to turn around for more clothes before being able to be out after dark… But first, we found our friend.

August with Dad





December with Strangers






Five more days of this life.

Back at our hostel, we shower (okay, so this just got WEird), and upon arriving back at our dorm room, the door is wide open. Odd, but whatever, nice girls are standing right inside. We walk in and leave it open. As we’re kneeling over to open our safety deposit box, making a slight bit of noise, but whatever it’s not even 6:00p.m., harsh words come from across the room, in Spanish. We look up with our face that says “Hablamos español, pero no bueno.”

A late-twenties early-thirties man laying in his bed gives us the death stare and snaps. Close the door.

Ugh. We don’t like you, Mr. Man.

Venture back out (code for “Get the heck out of that room and away from that guy). It’s still cold, and now it’s raining… Christmas lights in Madrid!

Not the best shots, but the combination of stay dry, hold massive umbrella in massive crowd, adjust exposure/lighting settings and not get pick pocketed was too much.

















And finally, on our way home, we all did something grossly Upstate New Yorker of us… We wanted hot chocolate from the Dunkin’ Donuts next to the hostel.

But to our surprise, this wasn’t your Syracuse Dunkin’ hot chocolate… In Europe, hot chocolate is thick as fudge.


Off to bed, hopefully not getting yelled at by our roommate.



4 thoughts on “Frigid Madrid

  1. Hi! Let me start by saying I love your stories and I’m so jealous you’ve made time to take this trip in your life! …I found your blog from searching for travel-writing blogs on this here. And now, after following you around Europe for a few weeks I actually wanted to ask you a question (one I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times). And advice, I guess. –I’m very sorry if this sounds weird, I promise I’m pretty normal (relatively) in real life!

    How did you decide to go?
    I’m still in school — English major. And I love traveling. I’m hoping to study abroad next year, but I’ve never traveled alone. I know leisure traveling & studying abroad are both very different experiences, but I guess I’m asking how you did it being away from home and away from friends on your own in all these foreign countries with languages you don’t speak… As much as it excites me to think of the adventure, I’m terrified of the idea at the same time. I guess my biggest worry is how it could effect a life here while being gone that long?

    Anyway, love your writing. Please keep us updated on the progress of your books when you get home! And I hope you have a lovely last few days of your trip:)


  2. Hey there,
    Thanks for the pick me up, slash, moment of bittersweetness! I spent four years in Spain and only left Madrid eight weeks ago to come back home here to Australia, so when I see picks like those, of the Christmas lights like I remember them, and the streets and Metro stations, I feel like I never left. Makes we wanna cry and laugh simultaneously.

    Lisbon too was much appreciated – isn’t that just a gorgeous place? Couldn’t get enough of it!

    Enjoy the rest of your travels!

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