Splitting From Split
Just over a week in Croatia had been enough to whet my appetite for now, and I boarded the plane back to Western Europe and one of my favourite countries – Spain! Having spent quite a lot of time in Spain over the past few months, I wondered whether I was wasting my time going back to cities I’m familiar with. I quickly overcame that guilty feeling because this is my trip, my money, my time and being in Spain makes me happy…so to Spain I went!
Split airport was a completely different experience to the huge international hub that is Madrid Barajas. Before long I’d racked up my steps traipsing to collect my bag and was on the train into the city centre. Having been to Madrid a few times recently, I knew that I wanted to base myself in Sol. It’s the heart of the city, and also because it was super easy to get there from the airport and for onward travel. A quick journey to Sol was then followed by about half an hour of me wandering up and down a street trying to find the hotel I’d booked. Turns out it wasn’t actually called the same name as on the booking website, which is always helpful.
But, I had arrived! I loved Croatia, but I felt a bit out of sorts there. So to be back in Spain where I was familiar with everything, and everyone was speaking a language I could understand, I felt like I was back somewhere comfortable. My first evening consisted purely of grabbing a cup of coffee, followed by dinner and then back to my room to watch Netflix and just relax. Ahhhh, perfect.
Ávila – Take One
New day, new plan – to get up early and head out to Ávila. Of course, I didn’t make it to the station in time for the train, and didn’t want to get a later train as the journey then wouldn’t have given me much time in the city. No problemo, new plan was to find a new pair of sandals as the ones I’d been wearing were getting a bit trampy. You know that pair of shoes you have that are super comfortable and last forever? Those are my sandals. Except by now I was pushing them right to the edge and was in need of a new pair of super comfy sandals that I can wear all the time. No pressure.
I spent what was left of the morning milling around Gran Via, the main shopping district of Madrid. Before long I called it quits and grabbed some lunch at the super authentically Spanish, Tim Hortons. Taking the time to just chill and have access to WiFi, I attempted to do a bit of ‘life admin’ while I had lunch. Then it was time for a treat, and off to a nearby cinema to watch Toy Story 4. My mum was super impressed that I watched a film in Spain. It’s a shame I had to tell her it was in English with Spanish subtitles…
Post cinema, I had a little wander down to the nearby Plaza Mayor. I’d been here previously and love the vibe, but had an ulterior motive – Mercado de San Miguel! I was hungry, and after some yummy Spanish treats. Turns out I’d forgotten that the market is expensive and I’m on a backpackers budget, so just had a quick look round, occasionally stopping to drool at something yummy.
Heading back to end my super chilled day in style, I grabbed some dinner from a local Wok stop and scrambled into bed to eat dinner and watch Netflix. It’s not super explorer style, but days like this are so necessary when you spend a long time travelling…and it certainly helped me feel refreshed because tomorrow had a trip to Ávila written all over it!
Let’s Try Again…
After successfully catching the early train to Ávila and spending the day exploring, it was back to Madrid for my last evening before heading out again. The train arrived back to Principe Pio, and instead of just catching the metro back to Sol I decided to explore the area a little as I wandered back.
I’d been to this part of the city before a few times, but it was still lovely to wander through the gardens and theatre district. Everything is always so pretty at golden hour, and I of course stopped to take a ton of photos of everything glowing in the setting sun light. As I made my way back, I got the warm fuzzy feeling of being so lucky to be just wandering through Madrid on a random Thursday evening. It’s the little things!
My time in Madrid was quickly over, and I was off to Barcelona again. Staying in Sol makes it super easy to get nearly everywhere in the city. So I was at Atocha train station in no time, sitting in the departure lounge with a coffee wondering what I’d forgotten to do that meant I had time to spare. I guess the missed train experience in Barcelona was still with me and I finally learnt how to get to places in plenty of time! Off to Barcelona!