This will be my last blog post about Spain until I return again one day. It is a pretty weird feeling saying goodbye to your friend who you've lived with, traveled with, and done everything for the last month. I waved goodbye to him filming me leave to board my ship that would take 20.5 hours to arrive at a port city about an hour and a half outside of Rome, Italy. We'll get back to that story near the end of this blog post... Until then, let's talk about Madrid.
The Last night in Seville, we didn't do anything too crazy. We went out to one bar and got a craft beer because I was craving one. It was pretty good. It would be on par with some American Beers.
We then went back to that underground bar, La Bicleteria, for a drink. The following day we didn't have our bus ride to Madrid until 1AM. We hung around the Black Swan hostel all day until 11PM when we decided to walk to the bus station. We arrive at 11:30PM to quickly find out that the bus was early and was going to leave at 12:15AM. I'm glad we got there a little early. We board the bus and try to pass out. It is really hard to pass out overnight on a crowded bus. We arrive in Madrid at 6:15AM and wait in the cafe in the bus station for 1.5 hours until McDonald's (free WiFi) would be open. We then make the 2 mile trek, with our packs, to the McDonald's so we can figure where the hell to go. We stay there from 8-11:30AM and decide to start walking to the hostel a mile away to see if we could check in a little early. Thank god we were able to check in at 12:30PM instead of the normal 2-3PM so that we could get showered and take a nice long nap, which we did, for 3-4 hours we slept. We got up and decide to go snag some food from an "Authentic Mexican Restaurant" named TaKos, which was recommended to us by a new roommate from Morocco who had 1 Euro tacos. They were pretty damn good! They also had some really good spicy red and green sauce, which is rare to find in Spain.
One thing that I quickly notice about Madrid compared to the rest of Spain that we visited over the last month was that the people dress up EVEN MORE here!
It was the most posh, high class, and expensive/ritzy out of all of the places that I visited in Spain. The Gran Via is a street that reminds me of Ney York City meeting San Francisco. It was a pretty scene but not the high city life that I'd like. We didn't get to experience that much of Madrid due to my friend running out of money and having to cut expenses tremendously. We did however get to see some cool Statue in the middle of a square where people used to get executed, as well as the "Central Park" of Madrid.
In the "Central Park" There were tons of people walking around, people doing acts, music, art all along the path which was surrounded by a body of water being overlooked by a big statue/structure. As we get to the end of that body of water, after walking by the crowd and entertainment, we see a coffee shop with chairs and tables sitting outside. We decide to make a stop and have some Cafe Con Leche.
It was pretty awesome just sitting there, listening to the music from the local artist, the sound of the birds chirping in the air, and the brisk winter wind breezing through two lovers showing affection out and about on a sunny afternoon.
We leave to head back and see a school of kids being taught how to rollerblade. Rollerblading was pretty big over there! We were constantly seeing people rollerblading. On the way back we ran in to the national library of Spain I believe it was.
We had to go trough some security entrance to enter so we didn't get to go inside, but we got to see the outside, which was pretty huge and mesmerizing.
The first night in Madrid we stayed at OK Hostel, which was OK... A little too strict. Nice Hostel rooms but not too great of vibes. The next two days the price would nearly DOUBLE! We decided to go to a different hostel called Safestay Madrid, where we stayed for the last two nights in Madrid. I had to make a quick decision to head back to Barcelona with Anthony, or heading up to San Sebastian where it would be rainy weather, after he told me on the last day in Madrid that he's going back to Barcelona because going up to San Sebastian would cost too much. I decided to go to Barcelona with him for 2 last nights before continuing my "A Brewers Story" prophecy and heading over to Rome and continuing my way up to Florence and eventually Munich and Berlin.
Madrid was cool, but I would like to have more money to spend there, as well as a lot more time to spend it. There was so many experiences we didn't get to have in Madrid, but that's why you come back to places, to have even more experiences.
This was the most true test of our physical and mental abilities yet... Making the 7.2 mile trek, with our packs, to get to the airport/bus station from our hostel. I start off with my pack and walk the initial 2.5 miles or so, through the city, running in to the Bull Fighting Stadium of Madrid on the way.
We had to stop at a park to eat some sandwiches because we were way too hungry. We then head another half mile down the road to our favorite chain restaurant in Spain, "Cien Montaditos" and get some sustenance in us. At this point Anthony decides he wants to wear my backpack, which is 20-30lbs heavier then his was. Little does he know we have almost 4.5 more miles to go... After the first two of the last four we stop for some more sandwiches and a break, our feet and body are taking a little beating at this point. He wants to continue to carry my pack, so I let him for the remainder of the 7 mile trek.
Within the last mile (to also kill time because bus didn't leave until 12:15AM and it was only 7PM), we stop at a local bar in this outskirt city of northeast Madrid. We walk in with our packs and instantly get looked at funny. We drop our packs and sit down at the empty bar and order two Amstel's. He did something funny with the head after he had poured the beer, after a lot of deduction, we decided he added Nitro to the head, and possibly the Amstel itself, to make the head retain itself. No joke, this was one of the best tasting beers I've ever had!!! I was shocked!!! I will 100% be trying to add Nitro to the head of my beer when I get the opportunity next.
After that beer, right down the street, we stop at Burger King because we were hungry and needed some food. I got a burger, fries, and onion rings, I splurged for about 9 Euro... It was the worst of everything I had ever had. Not nearly as tasty as the Burger Kings from the USA.
On the last stent of the trek Anthony leads up down airport streets with no sidewalks and rabbits. We had to walk in the dirt with the plants, and animals, next to the street with all the taxi's lined up. We scale a dirt wall and hop over the freeway divider and start walking on the curb of the street, finally making our way in to the Airport...
We walked all around the airport, trying to figure out where the buses were and how to get ours to Barcelona. We find it after about an hour of looking and having to ask people in a language I don't feel comfortable speaking in. We finally make it on our overnight bus to Barcelona, beat up, but successful. I instantly pass out for 3.5-4 hours on the bus, when we stopped and I got out and got some "Cheetos" and chips ahoy because I wanted to. We left the stop and I nodded off a few times until we arrived in Barcelona at 8:15 the following morning. We needed sleep after arriving to our old hostel we stayed at the first 3 nights in Spain at 11AM.
We store our luggage in the luggage room at Urbany hostel, that was 1.5 miles away from the bus station, until we could check in to our rooms at 3PM. Anthony and I both pass out for 1.5 hours and proceed to play on our phones. We check in to our rooms, 16 person dorms, and I shower and quickly pass out for another 1.5 hours while Anthony talked to his girlfriend I believe.
We go out later that evening with my friend, @goodpeople.drink.goodbeer on Instagram, and meet at Garage Brewing Co, where we've been before. The Argentinean bartender remembered us from the previous 3 weeks ago which made me feel pretty cool. We have 2 beers there, then decide that we're hungry and go out for some tapas down the street.
We got cheese ball things, calamari (which was my first time trying that, let alone any seafood), mini empenadas, chicken finger things, and some hummus. I also got a glass of wine because I wanted to, was pretty good for a house wine. We say goodbye to our friend and head back to the hostel for the night.
The next day we walk around new parts of Barcelona and discover the most breath taking pigeon gathering I had ever seen. Families were out letting their kids hold pigeon food and have the pigeons come up on their arm to eat it, seeing the smile on their faces was priceless. It was an awesome experience. Walking through the ritzy side of Barcelona it felt like, I saw a gelato shop, which I had been craving since I was in Spain, so I stopped and grabbed a ferra rocher cone. I was like a kid in a candy shop. On the walk back home, randomly, we see a window that says "We Make Beer Here" and two guys brewing beer. I peep my head in, introduce myself to Ben the brewer there, and told him I'd come back tomorrow, my last day in Spain, to talk to him about his operation.
After that we ran in to an awesome little underground skatepark. It was the cool kids club where everyone just ate pizza, drank 40's, and skated all day. Such a cool thing to stand and watch for an hour.
We finally make it back to the hostel around 3PM and decide to rest up a little before I went to go meet the same friend as the night before for some more beer for my last night in Spain. Anthony didn't go out with me for this one because he was tired and didn't want to spend the money too I think.
I make my way out to the Gothic area in Barcelona, where we had been earlier that day. I walk through small, empty alleys by myself and think I'm gonna get mugged and end up at the same time as my friend at this AWESOME taproom/brewery called OlGod. We met an awesome Swedish bartender who talked with us for the whole hour and a half or so that we were there and as we were leaving showed us his small, maybe 1bbl (if that) operation they had going on in the back. I tried some of their own brew and it was OK! The system looked a little janky though. I had a Juicy IPA (not NEIPA) that was super good, but 1 pint cost 7 Euro. I then get a half pint of a Double IPA that was also pretty good. We then head out to another spot called "Ale Hop" where I got to try Cantillion for the first time! I loved it. I wish I just had 1000 of all these damn good beers I had! I have a half pint of a bock and so impressed with this one too! I was in heaven.
On the walk back to my hostel we stop at a kebab spot and grab a damn good kebab, or bocadillo... I can't remember what it was but I know it was damn good. Finally we end at Barcelona Beer Co. which was quickly closing. We both grabbed one half pint, I got a 7% orange coconut stout, which was pretty good! Not the best I ever had but still good!
My buddy walks me to the front of the hostel I was staying at, said our goodbyes and I enter the hostel to see my friend downstairs. We drink a little more, talk with some people, and end up passing out around 3AM, the norm...
The next morning we get up, check out of the hostel and walk to the next one Anthony was going to stay at. We lock our stuff in that hostel, and head out to that brewer, Ben, who I wanted to go and talk with from the day before. We arrive and he was dry hopping, with a lot of foil? Overcautious? Still not sure... We waited 30 minutes for him outside the extremely small brewery in the middle of Barcelona. A man walks in and starts talking with the two brewers and we can tell that he is pissed off and started to get in an argument with them. We felt weird so we had to leave and I didn't get to talk with him sadly.
We then head back to the hostel to prepare for the trek to take me to, and find, the port where I will be departing on my own to a port city in Rome, Italy.
After the 2-3 mile trek, we barely find my ship. This was by far the biggest ship I have taken. I go to check in and of course the workers aren't too helpful/happy. We head outside to drop our packs and take a breather before boarding the ship in the next 30 minutes. We didn't talk too much as we could both tell it was a changing in the tides. We say goodbye each other and I walk up the path to the ship.
A little girl, who was with her little sister and her mom, runs up to me and starts talking to me in a different language, she then understands I'm English and starts speaking English to me. We became friends in that quick moment of talking. This was a good omen to me. I then walk on the ship and ask the guy where to go, luckily he speaks English. I find out where to go but need liquid and food in me.
I go up 3 floors (that took me the hard way to find out) to the food/casino/arcade/cafeteria room. I ask to order food and they send me upstairs to the top where is a bar. I get up there and no one is there either, they guide me back down to the cafeteria. About 10 of the employees were sitting down around the tv watching Real Madrid play soccer. I felt a little defeated and extremely nervous so I said fuck it and went downstairs to sleep and hopefully live for the next couple days. I quickly notice everyone starting to make their beds on the floors with sleeping bags and blankets and everything so I jump on the train and lay my yoga mat on the ground to reserve my space to sleep.
I lay on it around 11:15PM and end up passing out until 8:45AM, but not without rumbling and waking up because of cold most of the night. I get up, go outside to eat some sandwiches on international waters, and listen to my audiobook "The Pilgrimage" by Paulo Coehllo watching the gentle ocean move back and forth, up and down. I go back in the cabin and pass out on the airplane aisle seats, we were supposed to sleep in, for 2 hours. Its now 1PM and I decide to venture out to the 10th floor one more time to try to get some food and liquid. This time people were eating and drinking, so I spent 4.5 Euros on a chocolate croissant , coffee, and water. Better than nothing. I then go back down and try to pass out for another 2 hours. Head back out on the deck and hang out for 1.5 more hours and then just like that it was time for us to enter Italy!
I follow the crowd trying to get off the ship, little did I know they all had brought their cars and were going to the bottom to get their cars. I had to then go back up the stairs to the reception to figure out how to get off the ship, and it was literally right to the left after we exited the cabin we were staying in... I felt so dumb but whatever because I had successfully sailed across my first sea from my first international country to my second, alone.
I go past "customs" and ask if he needs to see my passport as hes talking, joking around, with some other guy and just waves me on by and didn't need to see my passport... Ok I guess.
I start walking to the, what I think is the right way, to the train station to take a 5 Euro train to the heart of Rome. There were only two exit streets from the port and both were guarded by guards, I walk past one a little nervous but they don't say anything. I had made it to another country without getting my passport stamped? I'm definitely an illegal alien out here in Italy! Oh well, rock on!
I make it to the train station, pay the 5 Euro, and had to verify the ticket which was new for me, then asked an old Italian looking man if it was the right train, it was. I made it to Rome and had to pass even more security to get out of the train station, but once I did, it was a five minute walk to the hostel. I made it to Rome!
In my next blog post I'll write up an article about the Imperial Porter (@cogito_ergo_brew on Instagram) I am going to brew with a two brewing friends here in Rome. Be on the lookout for that one!
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