The first visitor was Charlie Crocker, a family friend who I've known my whole life. He's currently studying in London and decided to come to Spain for his week-long fall break with friends. Unfortunately, he visited on a Wednesday and Thursday which meant I was busy with work from 9:30-4:30 (plus private lessons on Wednesday), but that didn't stop us from having a blast with the time we had! Wednesday night I met Charlie just outside Plaza Mayor where he was sharing a bucket of beers with his friends. His friends needed a nap, but Charlie was determined to power through so the two of us ventured on. I took Charlie to the Museo de Jamón and despite it's name, it's not actually a museum. It's a chain of bars that offer a wide variety of cured ham to try as well as beer and cheese. I treated us to a platter of jamón serrano (dry-curred ham), queso curado (cured cheese) and a pitcher of Spanish beer. After munching on that and catching up I took him down Gran Vía to the Templo de Debod, which in addition to visiting the Egyptian temples from 2nd century BC, you get (in my option) the best view of Madrid. At night you can see the Palacio Real, Basilica and Cathedral all lit up as well as the entire river valley of Madrid. It's pretty amazing, definitely something everyone visiting Madrid must see! Afterwards, we went and got more tapas (I was helping Charlie eat his way through Spain), and then eventually met back up with his friends for a beer.
On Thursday night we met up again. I was with two friends from work when Charlie & co met us in Chueca, a hip neighborhood of Madrid. We enjoyed some tapas and mojitos together and then we walked them to one of the most famous clubs in Madrid, Kapital. However, it was a school-night for me so that's where we had to say goodbye. It was great getting to visit Charlie, even though brief it was a good time.
Just two days later I was graced by a second visitor. Antonella is my mother's best friend and our former backyard neighbor. I grew up with Antonella's family, including her children Daniel and Chantal. They moved away when I was seven-years-old but we've always kept in touch and last year I was lucky enough to spend Christmas with them in Italy, where they currently live! Well, coincidentally, now Chantal is studying abroad in Madrid so Antonella came to visit and I got to spend time with both of them. We spent the morning at the Rastro, a notorious flea market that happens every Sunday in La Latina, just a short 15 minute walk from where I live! After browsing the clothes, jewelry, and other knick-knacks we went to Plaza Mayor for a coffee. Then for lunch we visited my favorite place in Madrid, Mercado San Miguel. This time I indulged in various tostas including smoked salmon, Galician-style octopus, creamed codfish, and muscles. All delicious! Then we moved on for a little treat, frozen yogurt from Llaollao. Frozen yogurt has become a HUGE enterprise in Spain within recent years, and Llaollao is notorious for being the best-quality chain. After fro-yo we tagged along while Antonella and her friend did a little shopping. Chanti, her roommate and I chatted and enjoyed each other's company while occasionally being asked to weigh in on shoe purchases. It was a lovely afternoon. But eventually, it came to an end. Thankfully this won't be that last time I'll see them this year! I am planning on seeing Chanti much more in the near future and Antonella not only is planning on a second visit to Madrid but also invited me to spend Christmas at their house for a second year. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful family-friends.
Anyone who has lived abroad knows how special it is to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar place. Not only is it comforting to have a little piece of home, but it's fun to play tour guide! However, this week as made me realize how much I still have to see in Madrid! I still have a lot to learn about this giant metropolis. Looking forward to all the adventures to come!
And now, I have a couple of plugs. First of all, for any of you who follow me on twitter, instagram or facebook, I am going to be keeping track of all of my big moments this year with #MadridMilestone . So for all the haters who think hashtags are pointless, I'm proving that they can be properly used. Simply type in the hashtag and follow along! Second, this week I was honored to have one of my pictures from my Chile study abroad trip chosen to be featured on Ellen Degeneres' blog! Feel free to check it out. http://shine.yahoo.com/ellen-good-news/perfectly-timed-photo-jump-joy-212800401.html
Love from Madrid <3