Going with the flow at the Fiesta Nacional de España
November 2, 2007, 4:17 pm
Filed under: europe, events, festivals, spain, travel

I had planned to visit Sarah in Madrid without knowing it was going to be Spain Day on Friday. This meant it was a bit of an effort to get accommodation. I ended up booking a bed in a boy’s dorm room in a (in)famous Madrid hostel, then hastily emailing the hostel to explain I was actually female so would prefer a mixed/girls dorm, but that option wasn’t available for booking on the site.

Then I worried for a couple of days I was going to spend all weekend in a dorm with stinky, farty, rowdy guys. After our crap hostel experience in San Sebastian I was anxious. It turned out to be fine, when I arrived at Cat’s in Madrid they found a bed in a mixed dorm for me, so I dumped my gear with relief and set out into the city with Sarah.

Madrid is a cool city. It reminds me of Melbourne. Madrid is not as showy as Barcelona (or so I hear) in the same way as Melbourne is Sydney’s less flashy but more cultured sister. It also has good public transport system.

For the capital of a European country Madrid is very small, you can walk around it in about half a day. But then you can easily spend another half a day at the Reina Sophia Museum and another half strolling around Parco del Retiro.

Or, if like me you go during festival, you can spend what feels like half a day (or night, rather) dancing along the streets of Madrid in one of the Fiesta Nacional parades, which featured half a dozen stages with acts covering hip hop, Latino Americano and traditional flamenco music. Sarah and I decided we liked the Latino Americano groove, so slotted ourselves in amongst the crowd between that float as it performed its way through Madrid’s streets.

After a couple of hours I was getting sore feet and was getting fed up of the group of Peruvians who were yelling whatever the equivalent of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi’ is in Peru, every two minutes just behind us. I felt like a piker wanting to leave already, because in Spain children do everything their parents do, so although it was around midnight there were dozens of children trekking through the streets. I worried they might get trampled if the crowd got out of control. Their parents didn’t.

I chilled out, there was no point feeling fed up and anxious because there was no way we were getting out of the parade, since it was dozens of people deep and moving. I just went with the flow.


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