Flight to Madrid AA36

One hundred and sixty eight hours ago, I landed in Madrid. So far, so good. I’ve already made a few realizations and thought I’d share a little of where I’ve been, what I’ve done, how I’ve managed and what I’ve already learned.

iPod Touch: Pretty much the best decision ever. Free wifi (pronounced adorably “weefee”) seems to be widely available in Spain—bars, cafes or just around town. Already desperately needed it to find my hostel from the train station. The map feature works miraculously without an Internet connection (after initially putting in the directions on wifi) so it’s able to track your steps to make sure you stay on path.

FourSquare: I’ve been using the “nearby tips” feature on my iPod which gives me a good idea of what locals are doing near my current location. Plus, the people who use FourSquare are the ones most likely to share my same interests (read: hipster 20-somethings). I plan to write more about this in the future because I’ve got a lot to say on it!

Hostels: My biggest deciding factor in choosing a hostel so far has been access to free wifi. Meeting people hasn’t been hard. Beds and rooms are just fine. In fact, I had an entire dorm room all to myself for two eerily quiet nights in Valencia.

Backpack: I’ve got the North Face El Lobo 65. Haven’t had trouble carrying it around, but I’ve been stuffing my day pack inside of it while traveling via train/plane. I didn’t end up buying any sort of day pack so I’ve been using my kinda bulky (but cheap!) backpack for walking around during the day. May need to revisit that in the future.

Frantic Packing!

Clothing: Madrid was much colder than usual and my thickest piece of clothing was a lightweight, cotton hoodie. Didn’t really do the job, but I just escaped to the Mediterranean coast instead. Also, everyone in Madrid was dressed way better than I was. That city has got some serious sense of style.

As far as the clothes that I’ve packed, I can already tell I brought too much underwear and not enough shirts. Smelly underwear is less likely to reach the noses of those around you, while smelly shirts are pretty much in people’s range.

Bored

Shoes: I brought a pair of Converse sneakers and flip-flops. I wish I’d brought my running sneakers like I’d originally planned at some point though, because “going for a run” seems to be a pretty common backpacker hobby. Going to look into picking up a pair somewhere.

Language: I’m getting more and more comfortable with my very limited Spanish. Ordering meals (and drinks) has become easier, and I can pretty much communicate with most everyone—just a matter of the right hand gestures, Spanglish verbs and my limited lexicon of nouns.

Beer at Barcelona

Food: In Madrid, I barely needed to order my own meals. Food was often served free of charge with my beers (or caña—small glass of cerveza). Picking up cheap fruit as snacks has also saved me a lot of money. Those are good for breakfast and snacks.

Döner: Can you believe it? I’ve only had one döner kebab so far! And I’ve been in Europe already for a week!!!

Money: I feel like I’ve been spending a lot, but I haven’t honestly checked. Two trips to the ATM for about 100€ and my credit card for trains & hostels. I know Spain is going to be one of the more expensive countries on my trip, plus it’s my first, so I’m not yet in a routine of spending less.

Blogging: Because my hostels have had free wifi (say it with me now…weefee!), it’s been pretty easy to stay on top of e-mail, the blog, etc. Scheduling tweets and posts in advance has helped, but I’ve also been checking my e-mail during the day when I find a wifi connection. I’ll try and slow down at some point with all this Interneting, but it’ll take some time. Already, you may have noticed my first FREE giveaway plus I have a few other things up my sleeves this month.

I can already tell that having this site set up in advance was a great idea. It makes me feel less guilty about all the fun I’m having. I will say this, though: I am embarrassed to tell many of my new friends about it until after we’ve hung out for a while. Not sure what that says about this or me, but it’s interesting to note how little I want to talk about it with others right now.

Sightseeing: I don’t feel like I’ve done much, but I’m sure I have. Two museums in Madrid and a lot of walking. A LOT of walking.

No Photography

Photography: There’s probably only 75 photos or so on my camera right now. I’m really pleased with that number for a week’s worth of new and interesting places. That’s a little more than 10 photos a day. Too much more than that and it’d be impossible to manage all of them.

On the other hand, I have been out during the day without my camera and almost instantly regretted it. I need to remember to carry it with me as often as possible.

Safety: I’ve felt perfectly safe everywhere I’ve been so far. Shouldn’t be too surprising because I’ve mostly been in turistic (new favorite word, by the way—even if it’s Spanglish) places. I’ve felt fine leaving most of my belongings securely hidden and locked away in my hostels, as well. And my wallet moves between my front & back pockets depending upon my mood.

Electronics: I forgot to charge my camera before I left so I had to do that on my second day abroad. Also, I wish I’d brought an iPod wall charger since the iPod has been my most useful tool to date. Already drained the battery twice now and it’s a hassle to have to pull out my laptop to charge the iPod. (It should also be noted that I haven’t used the iPod for music once yet—just the Internet.)

Sleep: Sleeping in the hostels has been fine. Especially those two nights where I had an entire room to myself! I’ve had a few days where I’ve slept in until after 11am, which I keep kicking myself for, but at the same time I’m glad I got the rest. I needed it. There have already been several late nights so far :)

Whew! That was a mouthful. Hope you found that useful, enlightening, or mind-numbingly boring. Wombat Wednesday will resume next week—bigger and better than ever!

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92 comments

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  3. Doug

    That's awesome, Adam. Great tips too. So cool that you actually had a plan and just said screw it and go! Can't wait to catch up.

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  6. Adam

    Yeah, this was fun and easy to write.

  7. Adam

    haha well Spain is one of the least expensive countries in Western Europe. And Western Europe is likely to be the most expensive place I visit.

  8. This is exactly how I was writing my travel related rants during my recent trip to south-east Asia. :) It was fun to write like this instead of long posts. Give more insights & info.

    And don't worry abt underwear outnumbering ur shirts. It happened with me too. :P
    hahahaha

  9. I chuckled when I read that Spain will be one of the most expensive countries that you'll visit. I guess I'm aging myself here. I remember when it was one of the cheapest.

    Enjoy your adventure.

  10. Adam

    I've been to two Mexican bars in Madrid, already. Empanadas all the way!

  11. Adam

    I'm thinking of going cold turkey for a solid week at some point. Not sure when I'll do it, or if I'll program stuff in advance or just let things go quiet for a bit.

    I don't like carrying my camera with me everywhere either. Hit or miss.

  12. Adam

    I've barely had a meal sitting down in Spain! Always standing at the bar.

  13. Adam

    yeah, once more #rtwsoon folks get abroad i'll be curious to see who tells people about their blog or what. So far the biggest embarrassment is the fact that I use Twitter, though I'm an excellent ambassador and have tried to convince lots of people.

  14. Adam

    Thanks Bob!

  15. Adam

    It's spotty when and where you can find it, but at the very least, most hostels and coffee shops generally offer it. In Spain I've seen a lot of signs on the outside of bars, shops or restaurants indicating they've got Wifi. Major cities are likely to have it more common than others.

  16. Adam

    so many joggers! I have yet to pick up a pair of running sneakers, but I'll get to it eventually.

  17. Adam

    hostels are the best! and probably a step above a zoo or cage.

  18. Adam

    Thanks guys! I'll write more about Foursquare soon. I've already found a really cool coffee shop and a delicious burger place because of it.

  19. Adam

    hahahah Paula!

    And I've already gotten used to my smelly clothing. I've adapted quite well to wearing dirty clothes.

  20. Adam

    On a 2-week backpacking trip around Australia I learned to limit how many photos I would take. I think I ended up limiting myself to 25 photos per activity… Of course, setting a number goal per day/activity helps limit how many you take, but it should just be used as a guide.

    Though it's nice to have a catalog of hundreds (or thousands) of photos, it's more useful to be able to find them and know which is the best of a series. That's why I'm limiting them!

  21. Adam

    do it!

  22. Adam

    Yeah! For now I just hold off until we've chatted for a bit or hung out a few times – usually on day 2 or 3. Or after a few cervezas.

  23. Adam

    Glad to know someone else has found the iPod Touch so useful! I was hesitant to buy it at first, but almost immediately abroad realized it's usefulness.

  24. Adam

    Everything is in preparation for the RTW, yeah?

  25. Adam

    Thank Annie!

  26. Adam

    Love Spain!

  27. Adam

    hahah! Six days since I wrote this and I've already had three!

  28. Adam

    There are so many useful travel apps in the app store, too. I've been an Apple fan for a while now, but the iPod Touch has proved most useful.

  29. Adam

    so true! already had to buy deodorant and my toothpaste is painfully low at the moment.

  30. Adam

    I LOVE the t-shirt idea!

  31. Adam

    Thanks so much, Al!

    No regrets.

  32. Adam

    Telling people about your blog is almost an immediate confession of sorts. It's hard to pinpoint why. So far, though, everyone is really friendly and almost anticipates that I've got a blog.

  33. Adam

    definitely will be sure to disconnect for a while. I've always wanted to unplug myself so I'll probably experiment later on.

  34. Adam

    thank you thank you! This was rather fun to write, too so I'll likely do it again. Almost stream-of-consciousness… but more organized.

  35. Sasha

    Only 10 Photos a day adverage that is pretty amazing!!! My camera is like an extra limb that always wants to take pics!!!

  36. Sasha

    Only 10 Photos a day adverage that is pretty amazing!!! My camera is like an extra limb that always wants to take pics!!!

  37. Great suggestion in which clothes is more fine in being smelly :D
    Free tapas crawl (by buying beer) is awesome, we did that in Granada. We even had Chinese noodle tapas in a Spanish-Chinese fusion bar :)

  38. Great suggestion in which clothes is more fine in being smelly :D
    Free tapas crawl (by buying beer) is awesome, we did that in Granada. We even had Chinese noodle tapas in a Spanish-Chinese fusion bar :)

  39. It will be good to see how you try to ween yourself off of the internet a little as I think that’s an issue that almost every travel blogger faces during their adventures!

    And I also think that it’s ok not to have your camera with you all the time. Sometimes we are much quicker to take a photo than we are to actually take a breath and truly enjoy the moment or the sight in front of us. Photos are wonderful but they can’t replace those real moments!

  40. It will be good to see how you try to ween yourself off of the internet a little as I think that’s an issue that almost every travel blogger faces during their adventures!

    And I also think that it’s ok not to have your camera with you all the time. Sometimes we are much quicker to take a photo than we are to actually take a breath and truly enjoy the moment or the sight in front of us. Photos are wonderful but they can’t replace those real moments!

  41. Hey Adam, excellent post mate! Sounds like you’re settling in quite well.

    An iPod or iPhone is clutch when traveling – nice you’re getting all the free weefee. Unheard of here in New Zealand – you pay for your WiFi, and it’s slow.

    I saved (maybe?) so much money in Madrid by just ordering drinks and then eating the tapas that came along with it! Oh, do I miss that …

    Excellent post, keep it coming!

  42. Hey Adam, excellent post mate! Sounds like you’re settling in quite well.

    An iPod or iPhone is clutch when traveling – nice you’re getting all the free weefee. Unheard of here in New Zealand – you pay for your WiFi, and it’s slow.

    I saved (maybe?) so much money in Madrid by just ordering drinks and then eating the tapas that came along with it! Oh, do I miss that …

    Excellent post, keep it coming!

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  44. Kate

    Sounds like you’re having great fun! I think it’s great to hear somebodies thoughts on their very first week of a trip, it’s so exciting!

    I’m glad to hear that you think it was a great decision to bring the touch, I’ve decided to bring mine along too and I reckon it’ll be really useful on the road!

    Oh and yeah what you said about telling people about your blog, that’s spot on what I feel, even at the moment (not leaving till next week).

    Kate

  45. Kate

    Sounds like you’re having great fun! I think it’s great to hear somebodies thoughts on their very first week of a trip, it’s so exciting!

    I’m glad to hear that you think it was a great decision to bring the touch, I’ve decided to bring mine along too and I reckon it’ll be really useful on the road!

    Oh and yeah what you said about telling people about your blog, that’s spot on what I feel, even at the moment (not leaving till next week).

    Kate

  46. Bob Stoltz

    Adam …. what a great website …. cant wait to see your next update …. enjoy …. bob

  47. Bob Stoltz

    Adam …. what a great website …. cant wait to see your next update …. enjoy …. bob

  48. Alouise

    Glad to hear your trip is going so well. I haven’t been to Spain but it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. Glad to hear the ipod touch is helping, I just bought one myself to use on my upcoming trips (even though I’m not planning anything big soon). Was worried that free wifi might be a bit elusive but it sounds like it’s pretty common. I just blogged about my favorite apps, but I didn’t know about the foursquare one. I’ll have to check that out. Anyways happy travels.

  49. Glad all is well so far :-) I’m sure an empty dorm room is lonely but probably appreciated the longer you get into the journey and have folks snoring or talking in their sleep ;-)

    I’m planning on bringing 2 sets of clothes to go jogging in…would love to go 3 or 4 times a week but can only bring but so much, right? Nice to know I’m not the only one thinking about it.

  50. Glad all is well so far :-) I’m sure an empty dorm room is lonely but probably appreciated the longer you get into the journey and have folks snoring or talking in their sleep ;-)

    I’m planning on bringing 2 sets of clothes to go jogging in…would love to go 3 or 4 times a week but can only bring but so much, right? Nice to know I’m not the only one thinking about it.

  51. Alouise

    Glad to hear your trip is going so well. I haven’t been to Spain but it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. Glad to hear the ipod touch is helping, I just bought one myself to use on my upcoming trips (even though I’m not planning anything big soon). Was worried that free wifi might be a bit elusive but it sounds like it’s pretty common. I just blogged about my favorite apps, but I didn’t know about the foursquare one. I’ll have to check that out. Anyways happy travels.

  52. I think you convinced my to get the foursquare app on my blackberry and between this an reading Spunky Girl Monologues I’m thinking about exploring US hostels for my trip US tour this June.

  53. I think you convinced my to get the foursquare app on my blackberry and between this an reading Spunky Girl Monologues I’m thinking about exploring US hostels for my trip US tour this June.

  54. Adam, I’m psyched that you’re finding your iPod Touch to be so useful. Just picked one up for myself for our RTW trip and I’m loving it as well. The portability alone is just so cool! Nevermind that, but it’s even cooler when you can use the Touch for the web, skype, etc, all over WEEFEE! LOL.

    Just checked out that Foursquare thing. I’m going to have to read into that a little more. Seems pretty cool!

    Good luck on your travels, hopefully we will cross paths along the way.

    Enjoy yourself and “Pause The Moment” if you know what I mean…

  55. Adam, I’m psyched that you’re finding your iPod Touch to be so useful. Just picked one up for myself for our RTW trip and I’m loving it as well. The portability alone is just so cool! Nevermind that, but it’s even cooler when you can use the Touch for the web, skype, etc, all over WEEFEE! LOL.

    Just checked out that Foursquare thing. I’m going to have to read into that a little more. Seems pretty cool!

    Good luck on your travels, hopefully we will cross paths along the way.

    Enjoy yourself and “Pause The Moment” if you know what I mean…

  56. Paula

    Adam, You are such a techie traveller! In my day, you were lucky to have a pencil when travelling. That was just after the wheel was invented.

    Don’t worry about smelly shirts…wait until you go to other parts of the world…you will fit right in. After awhile, you won’t even notice and people won’t either.

  57. Paula

    Adam, You are such a techie traveller! In my day, you were lucky to have a pencil when travelling. That was just after the wheel was invented.

    Don’t worry about smelly shirts…wait until you go to other parts of the world…you will fit right in. After awhile, you won’t even notice and people won’t either.

  58. Wow, only 10 pictures a day! That sounds like a good way to manage things. We do more like 250 pictures a day which can get very overwhelming at times (but, then, photography is one of our things.) Sounds like you are having a blast in Madrid. It’s such a beautiful city.

  59. Wow, only 10 pictures a day! That sounds like a good way to manage things. We do more like 250 pictures a day which can get very overwhelming at times (but, then, photography is one of our things.) Sounds like you are having a blast in Madrid. It’s such a beautiful city.

  60. Abby

    How did I miss your sendoff, Adam?! Guess I was busy flitting around the States… So glad to done with that haha. Will be hanging onto your every word about Spain. I’ve taken several months’ long trips there. Have fun, Adam!!

  61. Sweet tips, Adam. As much as I abhor the Apple culture, I think I’ll invest in an iPod touch before I go overseas again!

  62. Sam

    Nice post. Not at all mind-numbingly boring. I’ve felt the same about telling people I meet travelling about my blog. I’ve only told a handful, and only after I’ve gotten to know them enough to “confess” it! Weird, eh?

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  64. Abby

    How did I miss your sendoff, Adam?! Guess I was busy flitting around the States… So glad to done with that haha. Will be hanging onto your every word about Spain. I’ve taken several months’ long trips there. Have fun, Adam!!

  65. Sweet tips, Adam. As much as I abhor the Apple culture, I think I’ll invest in an iPod touch before I go overseas again!

  66. Sam

    Nice post. Not at all mind-numbingly boring. I’ve felt the same about telling people I meet travelling about my blog. I’ve only told a handful, and only after I’ve gotten to know them enough to “confess” it! Weird, eh?

  67. Eli

    It sounds like you’re having an awesome time so far. I’ve been making my list of things I need to bring to Thailand, and the iPod Touch is very close to the top of the list. It’s a great gadget to have.

    Looking forward to more of your updates from the road! I’m planning on doing Europe after Asia/Oceania, so it’s great to see what I have ahead of me. Happy trails, dude.

  68. Eli

    It sounds like you’re having an awesome time so far. I’ve been making my list of things I need to bring to Thailand, and the iPod Touch is very close to the top of the list. It’s a great gadget to have.

    Looking forward to more of your updates from the road! I’m planning on doing Europe after Asia/Oceania, so it’s great to see what I have ahead of me. Happy trails, dude.

  69. Sounds like you’re having a great time Adam. I’m in Seattle right now for a couple days and the weather is so much better than it was back home. Even on a mini trip I’m learning what NOT to take with me on my RTW trip. haha

  70. Annie Leroux

    Adam- It sounds like everything is going great!
    I absolutely loved Spain and you are making it hard to accept that I am not currently there.

    Have some delicious wine for me and keep up the awesome posts.

  71. Sounds like you’re having a great time Adam. I’m in Seattle right now for a couple days and the weather is so much better than it was back home. Even on a mini trip I’m learning what NOT to take with me on my RTW trip. haha

  72. When we were in Madrid earlier this year it was hard not to spend all of our money in clothing stores. They have such an amazing, classic, European style… needless to say I ended up buying a pair of boots so I could sport the boots/peacoat combo.

    Good food! Good wine! Good tapas! Enjoy!

  73. Sounds great Adam, Glad your enjoying yourself!

    I am worried that we might start spending to much to begin with so it will be interesting to see how you get on.

    Also….. get on the kebabs!!!

  74. Sounds great Adam, Glad your enjoying yourself!

    I am worried that we might start spending to much to begin with so it will be interesting to see how you get on.

    Also….. get on the kebabs!!!

  75. Annie Leroux

    Adam- It sounds like everything is going great!
    I absolutely loved Spain and you are making it hard to accept that I am not currently there.

    Have some delicious wine for me and keep up the awesome posts.

  76. Happy to hear things are going well. I think one of the most important things is that you can buy things on the road.

  77. Happy to hear things are going well. I think one of the most important things is that you can buy things on the road.

  78. You’re convincing me to buy an iPod Touch… im torn, because I really want the app store more than anything.

  79. You’re convincing me to buy an iPod Touch… im torn, because I really want the app store more than anything.

  80. When we were in Madrid earlier this year it was hard not to spend all of our money in clothing stores. They have such an amazing, classic, European style… needless to say I ended up buying a pair of boots so I could sport the boots/peacoat combo.

    Good food! Good wine! Good tapas! Enjoy!

  81. Eager Existence

    Hey Adam, great post! I love that your site is formatted for mobiles too!

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying Spain. And don’t worry about telling people you just met about your blog.. Unless you’re asking “what’s fun to do round here?” for content.

    I plan on buying some novelty “Im blogging this” t-shirts for when I travel #rtwsoon.

  82. Eager Existence

    Hey Adam, great post! I love that your site is formatted for mobiles too!

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying Spain. And don’t worry about telling people you just met about your blog.. Unless you’re asking “what’s fun to do round here?” for content.

    I plan on buying some novelty “Im blogging this” t-shirts for when I travel #rtwsoon.

  83. flexeble

    Nice job with the prose my friend. The tips are indeed helpful and the most poignant to me is the carry the camera everywhere suggestion which I experienced first hand when in Madrid.

    The point is to make your travels memorable in whatever shape and form has most value to you; the sharing of your experiences are useful to your fans and those who may be interested in making their own journeys.

    I read this post hearing you speak the words and could sense that this was one of the best decisions you will have ever made. Have fun!

  84. flexeble

    Nice job with the prose my friend. The tips are indeed helpful and the most poignant to me is the carry the camera everywhere suggestion which I experienced first hand when in Madrid.

    The point is to make your travels memorable in whatever shape and form has most value to you; the sharing of your experiences are useful to your fans and those who may be interested in making their own journeys.

    I read this post hearing you speak the words and could sense that this was one of the best decisions you will have ever made. Have fun!

  85. Glad things are working out so well for you! I’m jealous, I long to go back to Spain. It was good to hear your recommendations on the ipod touch since I’m probably going to pick one up before I leave as well.

    I also feel like I will be somewhat embarrassed to tell travelers about my blog. Why is that? It just feels kind of, I dunno, pretentious?

  86. Hey! So excited for you! Remember to take a break from your wee-fee every so often and “get lost”! Safe journeys!

  87. Hey Adam,

    I loved reading this, as it’s great to see the perspective of another recent traveler!

    The camera tip is killer… bring it everywhere! You just never know when you’re going to see an awesome shot.

    I can’t wait until I make it to Spain. It sounds like a world away from where I’m living in India. :)

  88. G @ Operation Backpack Asia

    Nice Adam, it’s great to hear what you’re up to! I hope you continue doing little serial posts like these, I’d love to follow along and see how it changes and what else you have to say. All the best! -G

  89. Glad things are working out so well for you! I’m jealous, I long to go back to Spain. It was good to hear your recommendations on the ipod touch since I’m probably going to pick one up before I leave as well.

    I also feel like I will be somewhat embarrassed to tell travelers about my blog. Why is that? It just feels kind of, I dunno, pretentious?

  90. Hey! So excited for you! Remember to take a break from your wee-fee every so often and “get lost”! Safe journeys!

  91. Hey Adam,

    I loved reading this, as it’s great to see the perspective of another recent traveler!

    The camera tip is killer… bring it everywhere! You just never know when you’re going to see an awesome shot.

    I can’t wait until I make it to Spain. It sounds like a world away from where I’m living in India. :)

  92. G @ Operation Backpack Asia

    Nice Adam, it’s great to hear what you’re up to! I hope you continue doing little serial posts like these, I’d love to follow along and see how it changes and what else you have to say. All the best! -G

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