Day 19 – Madrid

I had a 10 hour train ride from Lisbon to Madrid, overnight. This time I tried sleeping in a seat, but it is still not so easy for me to fall asleep in a seat like that. Plus it turned really cold in the train at night, so didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked.

A stressful time happened when I arrived in Spain. I had a possible place to stay, on a couch, but no address or way to contact him. First of all, I couldn’t get any free wireless signal anywhere in the city I tried (first time I’ve run into this problem), so I couldn’t get to my email. Second, I tried asking a few people if I could borrow their phones, but no one would help me. I finally found a payphone after a while and was charged about $4 for about a minute of use to a local number. So I did finally meet and was able to get a place to stay.

In terms of English speakers, Spain has the fewest in Europe and possibly most of the world. A few decades ago it was illegal to speak anything other than Spanish here, so now it makes it tough to communicate. Also, voice calls are super expensive here. I suppose that’s why SMS text messaging is popular outside the US. The person hosting me, Noel, is an English & Chinese teacher from Malaysia. He’s telling me how there is much demand for English teachers here now and that’s why he is here. I’ve noticed Madrid is a very clean city, you always see someone sweeping, mopping, or taking trash away in public areas. Kind of funny, reminds me of Mexicans cleaning homes in the US.

Anyway, I visited Toledo (the original, not the one in Ohio), which is 30 minutes by train. I was kind of angry it wasn’t covered on my Rail Pass at all. But it was sort of a medieval capital of the area, surrounded by a river on three sides on top of a hill. Back to Madrid, I visited the Reina SofiĀ­a National Museum and then a found a buffet run by this Romanian guy (he spoke English well!). I also spend some time walking around Madrid. So I’d say things worked out OK in the end.