Once again we woke up at 3:30 to make it to the airport. This time around I did manage to get a solid 3 hours of sleep before my alarm went off. At about 4am we checked out and headed ten minutes down the street to catch a bus. We took the bus to Baker Street station where we caught the Circle line to Liverpool Street station. From there we took the Stansted Express to the airport. Security was a breeze and we sat down on a bench with plenty of time to eat breakfast. It ends up we had way more time than expected. The flight was delayed just under an hour which meant lots of sitting around. I used to the time catch up on these posts, and Megan used the time to spot Americans in the airport - socks and sandals are a dead giveaway.
The part of the airport terminal our gate was in is terribly designed. It basically bottlenecks just before opening up into a large room with either 6 or 8 gates. The lines for each gate backup toward the bottleneck so when there are even just two gates running - as was the case for us - the two lines become indistinguishable once they reach the hallway. Luckily Megan and I were just ahead of this insanity in line. After a few more delays we boarded and were on our way to Madrid.
After arriving in Madrid we had a quick lunch at the airport before getting on the Metro - Madrid's subway system - to head into town. The Metro was easy to navigate and Megan and I soon found ourselves on the street our hostel was located on. So naturally we walked down the street looking for the hostel. We walked, and walked, and eventually we reached the end of the road. ... Where was the hostel?
We double checked our map and then tried the street again. This time we were able to spot the place, identifiable only by a small sign on the inside of a door frame. We went upstairs an checked in. The woman at the desk was very nice. We ha reserved a 2 person room for the first night and a 3 person room for the remaining nights and she went ahead and gave us the 3 person one for the entire trip at no extra charge.
After checking in Megan and I were introduced to a housekeeper who would lead us to our building. Our room, we were told, was a street over though it was still the same hostel. After introducing us to the housekeeper the receptionist pressed the elevator button for us and walked away. When the elevator opened we walked on and the housekeeper - who never said a word to us during the entire trip - started walking down the stairs. Needless to say, this made us feel a bit dumb. When we reached the bottom floor the elevator doors opened just as this woman walked past them. We fell in line and made our way to the first floor Of our building. There we were given a key, told that our room #828 was on the fourth floor, but that we should go to the 3rd floor.
On the 3rd floor we walked into the doors marked with the hostel's name and we saw a woman walk out of a room, around the corner, and down a hall. Apparently, we were expected to follow her. After a minute or two of confusion we were on our way to our room.
To summarize and expand, let me now tell you how to get to our room.
Go to the first floor of the building that isn't the address the hostel lists and get your key. Go to the third floor and enter the door marked Hostel Cervelo. Turn to your left and go to the end of the hall and take a right. Then a left, then halfway down the hall take a left again. Then a right, then a right, then a left, then a right and go out that door into the stairwell. Go up one floor. Turn to your left at the landing and open the last door on your right with the big key. Make a left, then a right. Now open the unlabeled door at the end of the hall directly in front of you with the little key. Welcome to room 828.
So forgive us if that took a try or two to learn.
After getting in we decided to take part in an inspired Spanish tradition, the siesta. After we woke up we went and found dinner and then explored the area. We found the nearby Plaza Mayor and a decent gelato place. And that was pretty much our first day in Spain.