Going to the largest urban area of Spain during New Year’s Eve means that A) I got shoved a lot while shopping in the city center, B) English-speaking tourists were everywhere, C) the hostel was overpriced, and D) none of the museums were open, leaving me little to do with myself but spend money (mostly on booze).
So, trip recap. Let me reach back into the slightly fuzzy memories and paint you a picture of Madrid during one of the most chaotic weekends of the year.
The Plaza Sol was filled with people in crazy costumes, such as creepy Smurfs, and an abundance of masks and goofy hats. The shops were crammed with tourists looking for that perfect New Year´s outfit (think sequins and high heels, or so it seemed). And every time I found a Museo de Jamon, it was packed. Sidenote: Museo de Jamon is the perfect place for cheap travelers who find themselves in Madrid. There’s beer, sandwiches, coffee, and more beer, all for 1€ each. No wonder I had to throw elbows to get to the bar.
On the 30th, we found delicious Thai food–at a restaurant named Phuket (sound that out, then giggle immaturely). We then went exploring in Chueca, looking for funtimes. Chueca is Spanish for ‘the gayest place in the city’, or it might as well be. We found a little bar with a dance floor in the basement after getting lost. Still, an early night because we had adventures planned for the next day.
On the morning of the 31st, I determined that Madrid was conspiring to make me drunk. Why? Because the Reina Sofia Museum was closed, the Prado had a line out the door and around the building, and therefore my museum plans were derailed in favor of drinking beer and buying a mask for New Year’s Eve. It’s gold and shiny 😀 However, the highlight of my day was finding a good Mexican restaurant. I repeat, a good Mexican restaurant in Spain. Yeah, it was amazing.
Later, I drank cheap supermarket vodka and put on my golden glittery mask. Our hostel was hosting a pre-midnight party, with an open bar. Bad sign. At midnight, after making new friends at the bar, I followed the hostel people to Plaza de Sol, where the entire world was waiting to celebrate the new year. Cops guarded the entrances, in the sense that they confiscated all visible alcohol from the intoxicated masses. However, my bottle of champagne was hidden in my giant coat pocket and I made it into the Plaza in time for the midnight chimes. The place was wall-to-wall people, which is impressive for a Plaza the size of a couple football fields. Now, in Spain there’s a tradition involving grapes. Specifically, with every chime of the clock, you stuff a grape into your mouth and (try to) eat it. By the 12th stroke, I had a mouth full of grapes and my mini-champagne handy.
At this point, my new friends and I tried to find the club that we were on the list for, because getting into a club in Madrid on New Year’s is just not going to happen. We wandered, got lost, wandered, found all manner of drunk people, and eventually broke down and paid a cab driver (Note for travelers: cabs on NYE are double the price). And then I danced until 5 or 6 a.m.
New Year’s Day was fairly uneventful (and not even that hungover), though we did make a return trip to the Thai restaurant. And then, I hopped a bus to Lisboa!