Monday, December 28, 2015
I left for Madrid early Monday morning, and like usual, I was worried about the taxi ride to the airport. I had to ask the driver, in Russian, if he had change, and that was the start of long trip speaking more Russian abroad than in Russia. I arrived at the airport and had to go through three security check points. THREE! Then the guy at passport control asked me in Russian if I spoke Russian, and I actually understood what he was asking.
I had a 3 hour layover in Istanbul, and not much happened. I don't get it. It's 2016 and airports still don't have free wifi. I guess it was good though because I spent time reading. I did manage to get wifi in a weird spot so I could message my cousin and tell her where I was at since I forgot to message her when I was leaving. I flew Turkish airlines, and I have to say that they are a pretty good airline! I highly suggest taking them if you get the chance. The food was really good, and they had a good selection of movies on my flight from Istanbul to Madrid. I think I watched The Martian. The lady next to me on my flight to Madrid only spoke Russian and I could say a few things to her, but I think she kept forgetting I didn't speak Russian because she kept talking to me. Luckily, the girl on the other side of me was Russian too so I just pointed over to her. I don't know how people can speak multiple languages. I just kept answering and speaking in Russian, even when my English speaking flight attendant asked me a question. This happened A LOT in Spain, even though my Spanish is a million times better than my Russian.
I landed in Madrid around 4:30 and met Catherine. We took the Metro to their place and just spent the night talking and eating tapas at her and Ben's place. I was pretty exhausted from the jet lag and time change so I was content just staying in for the night.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
The next morning I went with Catherine while she tutored two students. It was good for me because I got some ideas on private tutoring. We stopped by the ATM beforehand so I could get money out. I need to give a little backstory. When I first arrived in Russia I tried using my debit card to get money out when it was time to pay for rent. My card wouldn't work on several different ATMs. I called my bank, changed my address, and was good to go. I called before leaving to say that I was going to be in Madrid so they could put a travel note on my account. Everything was fine, but then when I got to Madrid I couldn't take money out. I was so stressed out. Luckily I was with my cousin so I wasn't desperate for money, but what if I had gone alone? I would be in big trouble. I was confused because they whole time I was in Asia I never had a problem. A night or two later I called my bank to figure out what the problem was. It turns out I had a debit card without a chip. Most European places won't accept these cards for security reasons. So, moral of the story, if you are going out of the USA and are planning on using a debit card to take money from an ATM make sure your debit cards has a chip!
Before we arrived at the apartment we were going to tutor at Catherine showed me the soccer stadium for Atlético. When we arrived at the house the mother greeted both of us and kissed us on both cheeks. I definitely was not expecting it, but I also didn't read up on Spanish culture, so I need to make a note for next time I go to Spain. During the tutoring lesson I ate so much Spanish candy, but it was so good! I couldn't help myself. Afterwards, we met with Ben and went to Alma Cheli's for lunch. The food was so good, and we ordered something that reminded me of the Indian food I used to eat in Cincinnati.
After lunch we walked to Retiro Park. On the way they pointed out Ben's work and some other buildings. The park was beautiful, and there was so much to see. I even got to use the selfie stick Haley got me for my birthday.
Palacio de Cristal. It was just so pretty to look at. Catherine told me they often have art exhibitions inside. They had an exhibition of bones when we visited. It was cool, but also pretty creepy.