If I had to choose my favorite trip from my study abroad experience, I would have to say Madrid, Spain – for many reasons. The food was delicious, the city was rich with history, the people were friendly, and culture could be found around every corner. But there is one part from my trip that stands out.
On a tour around the city, the guide shared with us a very unique phrase in Spain. “We have a saying here in Spain,” he said as we stood in the Plaza Mayor, huddled under umbrellas. “It goes: Mañana. It means tomorrow. And in Spain? Everything happens mañana.”
Madrid is a bold and bustling city, filled to the brim with delicious food and wine, history, and some of the friendliest locals I’ve met while abroad. Just like the culture that surrounds them, the Spanish locals were bold, outspoken, and always cracking jokes, much like our flamboyant tour guide that day.
We spent our first day in Madrid walking aimlessly through the city. Upon arriving, we were met by the busy streets alongside Parque de El Retiro. The area was filled with cultural centers, convention centers, and museums of every kind.
We made our way through the more modern part of the city, past neatly paved roads and a bustling shopping center. In the middle was a wide-open space with a few fountains, benches, and access to the subway below us. When passing through here, you’ll find street performers and lots of people dressed up in creepy Elmo costumes.
The modern part of the city eventually gave way to quaint cobblestone streets and older architecture. We passed through the Plaza de Mayor, peeking inside small stores and browsing restaurant menus before heading to our hostel. Out of all the places we stayed during our travels, The Hat Madrid was a fan favorite.
The Hat Hostel is a friendly and quirky hostel located just outside the Plaza de Mayor. The location is perfect, placing you in the middle of landmarks such as Palacio Real de Madrid and the Muralla Árabe. The hostel was complete with a modern, industrial design and a stylish rooftop bar. Like many other hostels, they also offer bar crawls, activities, and free tours around the city.
The tour was one of my favorite things we did in Madrid, thanks to our funny and friendly tour guide. He started us in the Plaza de Mayor and described the cultural and historical significance of the vibrant square. He did an amazing job of describing the attitudes and lifestyles of the Spanish people. This included mañana, a saying I’ve been thinking about more recently.
Our guide explained mañana as a humorous expression, using their delayed election as a way to express the laid-back, worry-free attitude of Spanish people. Do you have to run errands? Ah, mañana. Need to do laundry? Mañana. Have a test next week? No problem, mañana. Important doctor appointment? You guessed it, mañana.
Thinking back, I realize mañana is more than someone telling you to worry about your responsibilities later and go out for drinks. I’ve recently been going through a hard time, feeling overwhelmed as I navigate my early twenties and plan for the rest of my life. And it’s hard to be in the moment when you are constantly thinking about the future. Mañana is the friend that tells you to worry about the future tomorrow – when it happens.
Planning a trip to Madrid? I recommend getting dinner at the Sobrino de Botín, a restaurant that’s been open since 1725. Not only was the food absolutely delicious, but the portion sizes were also large and affordable. If you have a sweet tooth, check out Chocolatería San Ginés for their chocolate with churros.
Read some of our articles from other Storytellers to learn more about their unique experiences in Spain!
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