Get Wonderfully Lost

23 Jan

I now have been in Madrid for 5 full days.  In some ways it seems much longer, in other aspects, it has flown by.    In this past week I have had more challenges, opportunities, unique experiences, difficulties, and fun times than I can count.  But more than anything else, I have been lost so many times it is almost comical…actually it is quit hilarious looking back.  Now before you assume I have an inability to read maps or follow directions, keep in mind that Madrid is almost twice the size of Chicago, street signs are hard to find and read, and streets do not form a grid, instead there are plazas every half mile that are circles with 5 or more streets branching off from them! That just asks for disaster, right? 

The first day was smooth sailing, but that was not to last long.  The next day was not quite the same.  Let’s just say, we saw a lot of the city this day.  It started off when we left for the university.  Because the weather was beautiful (55 and sunny), we decided to walk instead of taking the metro.  We knew it would be a pretty long walk but we had over two hours and were confident that we would most certainly get there on time.  Confident in ourselves we set out on our first adventure.  We walked by a beautiful park, saw buildings that we breath-taking, and passed by countless unique stores.  Then we saw the most gorgeous building perched perfectly on top of a hill.  Of course, we had to figure out what this was so we trekked up the huge hill.   Once we arrived, we adventured around, read some signs that were hard to understand and even walked in the building and asked questions.  We came out a little confused but came to the conclusion that it was the National Cathedral.  Satisfied that we had not only found this beautiful church but talked to other Spaniards in their native language, we continued our journey.  As we were making it down the hill, my friends said: Tenemos dieciocho minutos. Because numbers are something I struggle understanding, it took me a minute to figure out that she said we have 18 minutes .  And then I was positive that she had said the wrong thing.  Once I finally checked my watch, I yelled, “Ay We have ONLY 18 minutes!  It is going to take a lot longer to get there.”  At this point, all of our Spanish went out the door as we rushed to the street hoping to find a metro station.  With no luck, we asked a lady and she directed us.  Once we were on the metro, we got to class with no problems except we were 30 minutes late!  Oh no! The funny thing is that when we took our walking tour this morning, they took us to the Cathedral. We were right about what it was, but as it turns out, the building we found so enthralling is known as “the ugly church” because it is was designed in two differ architectural styles. If a building like this was in the states it would be a prized possession among the historical society.

We Made It!

We Made It!

The same day, we once again we a little turned around, ok a lot turned around.  We were trying to meet up at a cool cave themed bar with a couple other students in a neighborhood near the university.  We were given directions, but they proved to be of no help.   Once we got off the metro, we were looking for a street on the left.  Because streets are not well labeled here, we walked down the main street for a good five blocks, with no luck. Finally we turned back and found the street, less than 100 feet from the metro.  Thinking we had this set, we walked to the given street number and found that unless this restaurant was in the basement of a bunch of apartments, this was certainly NOT the place.  We continued walking and with no luck, finally decided to ask someone for help. The first lady gave us instructions, but with the combination of her fast Spanish tongue, our mediocre understanding, and the fact that Spaniards would rather lie than admit that they do not know something, they proved to be unhelpful.  By the end, we had asked at least 5 people for directions. At least now we are experts at asking for directions!  Finally, we miraculously found the place.  We were soooo excited.  Finally, an hour after expected, we were there! Unfortunately, as we had suspected, none of our friends were there.  Discouraged, we headed back to the subway.  By some miracle, we were about to go down into the station, we see a group of people.  IT WAS THEM!  You have no idea how relieved we were to find familiar faces.  In fact, we jumped and screamed out of delight (No, this did not help break the stereotype that Americans are loud and obnoxious). Turns out everyone had problems getting to this place and somehow miraculously ran into each other while wandering the streets!

I could tell you countless other funny stories about my lack of knowledge of the lay of the land, but I need some good ones to tell when I get back right?   The great thing about getting turned around, it that you come across great sights that you never would have found if you tried. For example, after the restaurant problem, we have returned several times to this neighborhood because we all know it well and like it a lot.  In fact, it is where I am trying to find an apartment! 

If one thing this trip has taught me thus far is that things have a way of working themselves out and patience and a sense of humor is key to getting through tough situations.  And by the way, I have been doing much better about learning my way around, but I still have a lot to learn. I’m sure the apartment search will help me explore the various neighborhoods.

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3 Responses to “Get Wonderfully Lost”

  1. boileradmin January 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Getting lost is a great way to find yourself.

  2. Debbie Guy January 25, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    What a great story! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I bet you will be a native in no time flat! Keep us posted. I told Luke and Julia about your trip and they were concerned when you got lost. They wanted to know if your Mom found you. I told them you were find and you found your way to your friends. They send hugs and kisses. We miss you, Love the Guys

    • madridmandi February 16, 2012 at 12:15 am #

      Haha that is a great story. It is really cute that they were so concerned. Tell them I said hi!

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