If you want something done, do it yourself. I needed to visit Madrid.
I bought a train ticket and booked a hostel for one. A few years ago, I spent a couple of days in the capital with my family. I’ve always been a “city girl” and vividly remember falling in love with Madrid’s fast-pace. The city had a movement of its own, the fiery, pulsating heart of Spain. Especially as a college student, Round Two was a must-do.
Man, I made the most of that day and a half. I have the hip bruises from my twenty-pound side bag, which so graciously accompanied me, to prove it. Before arriving to Madrid, I researched some sites and time tables. For the most part, however, I set off by foot, happily wandering and miraculously stumbling upon the botanical gardens, Plaza Mayor, el Mercado de San Miguel, el Palacio Real, and almost everything else you’ll find in Rick Steves’. At night, I even made it to a trendy bar with friends for an obligatory overpriced drink – from a cave roof – 10€ and too sweet, but still pretty guay.
I loved my time in Madrid. Besides the attractions that I successfully found on my self-guided solo tour, I discovered two keys things:
1. I’m so happy that I’m studying in Sevilla. Without a doubt, Madrid is beautiful. In a ten minute walk, you pass both gardens, hedges and rose bushes, and modern skyscrapers – basically a Spanish New York City, with less designer stores and more ham legs. For a study abroad experience, however, I’m thrilled to live in a place that I can call home, a place where I can recognize people in the streets and master the metro system. Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better.
2. All emo-ness aside, time alone is invaluable. When you’re alone, you’re forced to think. Everything sinks in. You’re hyper-critical and hypersensitive, but in a good way. Independence. Happiness. Simplicity. I’m not saying that I’m now planning a solo backpacking trip through Europe. I’m saying that, sometimes, a few days alone, with just a camera and a clear mind, turns out to be the best form of medicine.
Not all those who wonder are lost. (Most of the time. I still wish Google Maps worked…or that Ms. Navigator Sloane was leading the way.)