10 days in Spain

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Madrid was great! I mean:

– a rough start when I landed in the airport late at night and found there was a taxi strike and didn’t know how to get to the city, so, I sort of just decided I’d hang out at the airport until the morning, but luckily, an overpriced bus came 3 hours later and took us -all passengers reaching late stranded outside the airport- to the city center, and from there I had to walk loaded with heavy bags, searching for my hostel, and finally got to sleep in a bed at 4am..

-a rough ending, an incident with fire involved and nerve wreckage, but that is a story I do not wanna talk about…

Other then that, I had an amazing time there.

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I stayed at Safestay Hostel and it was a very enjoyable stay. I would totally recommend it to anyone passing by Madrid. And trust me, I spent one night at another hostel later, it costed more, but it was nothing compared to Safestay. The place is so cool; nice facilities, irreproachable bedrooms, clean baths, swings, quotes on walls sending you inspiration everywhere you look, a bar on the terrace.. you name it! They even had a mini cinema, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to try it.

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Madrid is a beautiful city. Beautiful buildings and architectural gems are EVERYWHERE!!! I enjoyed wandering around the city and all-day-walks. I think it’s pretty easy to find your way around. What I did, since I don’t have a Spanish sim card and hence no internet, was  that I’d just look up a random place I wanted to visit, start the itinerary on Google maps before leaving the hostel’s WiFi zone, and then walk… as far away from the destination I wanna go to as I can. That way, I get to keep the directions running on my phone, and explore as much as I’d like other parts of the city before actually going back to it. It was funny though how Google’s GPS-lady,  keeps trying to redirect me, almost frustrated, like, “please not that way! turn around! it’s this way!”. Sorry not sorry!

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I spent 2 awesome days in Madrid, enjoyed exploring the city by myself and on my own terms; from napping in parks when I felt like it and spending hours listening to street artists and enjoying their music without having to rush anywhere, to going out late at night touring empty streets. I walked so much that at the end of the days my legs ached begging for me to not take that bike ride around the city, and just lay down instead..

On the last day though, everything felt like going down hell, nothing was working. I had a terrible morning, and as much as I tried to pull myself together, I just couldn’t help but cry embarking on the bus ride to Bilbao.. I spent the long 5 hours ride discovering the jazz playlist on the bus’ player, looking at the greenery outside my window at times and falling asleep at others, until I got to Bilbao, and things started to look up again..

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And that’s what adventure is. You experience euphoric moments and you live through heartbreaking struggles. You meet generous people with the most beautiful souls who amaze you with their kindness and just how much they’re willing to give, and you meet manipulative people who challenge you to practice your kindness no matter how non-reciprocal it might be. You have days when you leave bed so early and engage in way too many activities that your body starts objecting and you only crawl in bed late at night -early morning- when the fatigue takes toll on you, and you have other days when you barely leave your room or spend the afternoon writing and reading under a tree. Highs and lows, new experiences, feelings and mood swings.. everything gets exaggerated when you’re traveling!

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Credit: Leda Lalou.

Our apartment is at the border of a neighborhood called San Francisco. It’s funny how, on our arrival, we were warned not to walk there -at night- because it’s supposedly dangerous, and then, I found myself walking there by mere coincidence the very next day. It was so astonishing to me how, basically, all I could hear walking down the streets is Darija. And in my mind it was like: “wait a second! this isn’t dangerous at all! this is home!” Bilbao has a lot of Moroccans living here. I walk in the city and I hear as much Moroccan dialect as I hear Spanish or Basque. And it surprises me because Bilbao is so far North that it is like the furthest point you can get from Morocco! but maybe -probably- that’s the point!

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This past week’s highlights have been the National Food and Drink Party, where I felt so good and just so proud of my dish and how everyone praised me for it..  like Morocco, look who’s representing you well!! and a weekend trip to Vitoria, a beautiful, but unbearably hot, green city with a rich history under its belt. We toured the city, ate, accidentally found ourselves sitting at a coffeeshop named Casablanca, and watched the parade before having to go back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay there for the night concerts and festivities, because I had to attend surgery on Monday, and it’s the only day I get to be in the OR so I just can’t miss that.

Other than that, it has just been about going to the hospital as early in the morning as my sleepless nights allow, and then trying to explore a new thing in the city everyday after service.. So far, so good!

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