I could get used to this…
Last I wrote I had visited the shops at Serrano. At that moment I had no idea what my Madrid experience would really be like. On Friday I woke up around 1pm (remember I had late night tapas the night before). I was really excited because my friend Maria, who had studied abroad at my high school about 5 years ago, invited me over for her birthday. I gathered all my things and Maria came to pick me up. It was so amazing to see her here in Madrid…five years ago we would have never imagined this. We arrived at her beautiful flat and began preparing food for her birthday dinner… oh yea, Maria has air conditioning!!!!! It was wonderful! We prepared sandwiches and salad, pâté and an array of cheeses, chips, cheesecake…sangria! Then we got dressed before her friends arrived. The reason why I have added this detail is because I would like to say that I actually put on a pair of jeans! Yes, believe it or not I wore jeans in this heat! Her friends arrived one by one and in all there were twelve of them; we had an amazing time. The people here are so warm and inviting, I felt like we had been friends forever. These are people I wish I could bring back to the States with me, because I have yet to find such an amazing group of friends. We had dinner, sangria, dessert, and then we just sat around and laughed. Around 1am we started cleaning up to get ready to go out on the town.
WOW…is all I can say about Madrid night life. You drive around the city at 2am and there are crowds of people everywhere. Its amazing! We drove to a place called El Hipodromo. During the day it is a place where they hold horse races, it is huge. At night it becomes an open air nightclub. I have yet to know the capacity at this place, but when I walked in there must have been around 4000 people. It was amazing, I could not believe it. It was a sea of people dancing and having an amazing time. They played house music all night and had really cool lighting. I loved that it was out in the open. It gave it a completely different feel. It was all grass with wooden dance floors and couches to lounge on all around. The people were so beautiful, every single one with their own style. The bar areas were crowded, they do not serve drinks like they do in the US. For example I had a rum and coke and they hand you a glass with as much rum as you wish and then give you a small coke bottle so you can put as much or as little coke as you want. After dancing the night away, Hipodromo closed around 4am. We stood outside with the giant crowd and met people and just had an amazing time. We got back to Maria’s around 6am and went right to sleep. 6AM!!! I could not believe it, her mother was waking up when we were getting home!
Maria and I slept until 2pm the next day, we were exhausted. After having a light lunch Maria brought me back to my side of town. I arrived and did some English homework with the girls. Then I got dressed and we left around 8pm to go to El Ecorial. It was about a 30 minute ride that almost made me car sick. We went up a mountain and arrived in this beautiful little town. The Ecorial is an old palace. No one lives in it now, but it is truly amazing. The gardens, the architecture, the windows, the cobblestone roads!!! I loved it. We walked around the town and had some wine and then we headed to Antonia’s brother’s village for a party.
This was truly an experience to say the least. Her brother lives in a small town on the outskirts of Madrid. It is your typical town where everyone knows each other and is in every one else’s business. The town had a barbecue with a band and typical dances. The whole family got together and we walked to the party and had an amazing time. The best part was that they were selling raffle tickets to win a leg of pig, and Antonia’s brother won! This was the highlight of everyone’s evening. My how they love their ham. They were running around celebrating and carrying this giant leg around…I wish I had a video camera. Then they passed it around to see the quality of the ham. I think Madrileños could survive with just ham their entire lives. They are in love with it! Ham and olive oil. Olive oil is used in everything, at Maria’s house they even had olive oil soap!! Its really late here, around 2am, and tomorrow we are going to El Rastro. Its an open air market in the city center that only opens on Sundays. I must go now.