A vintage stand at El Mercado de Motores.
You probably don’t know this about me because it’s nerdy and I keep it to myself, but I like transportation. No, I don’t have elaborate model train sets in my basement or hundreds of hand-painted balsa wood airplanes. But I get a kick out of efficient transport systems, especially public transportation or high-speed trains.
So, imagine my happiness when I discovered that there’s a market in Madrid’s Museo del Ferrocarril. Trains and a market? Is this heaven?
On the first weekend of the month, artists and antiquarians set up their stands alongside centenarian steam trains and art deco train cars. They peddle their artisan, vintage and gourmet goods while live music plays on the terrace outside.
I wasn’t sure what to expect — I was picturing something more akin to El Rastro, which is fun, but in the same way junk-filled rummage sales are fun. Upon arrival to the Mercado de Motores, however, I was immediately impressed by all the beautiful things for sale. The museum’s main depot area hosts the hand-made and artisan goods, while the space outside the museum is filled with antique and vintage finds. You can even hop on a miniature steam train, but only if you’re accompanying a child. We learned that the hard way.
“You have to go to the north. You have to go to Bilbao.”
These are one of the phrases I heard most from Iván, a native vasco and my speaking partner at college. As part of the Spanish program at Drake, each student was put into a small group with 2-4 other students and assigned three hours a week of conversation practice. These sessions with Iván did wonders for my spoken Spanish — he was a dedicated and friendly teacher who always had plenty to say. And, as a typical vasco, much of that had to do with selling us on the merits of northern Spain, including the food, the sights, and the landscape. (Also, every abuelito in Bilbao wears a beret, as I was soon to discover. I loved this.)
For some reason, though, I never made it to northern Spain while I was studying abroad. When I moved to Madrid in September, I promised myself I’d finally visit Bilbao. We had a long weekend in early December, so Jo, Kaitlin, Lauren and I hopped the high-speed train and headed north.
The Tallest Man on Earth: I swooned. He gave me two guitar picks. Everything was wonderful.
I’ve been trying to avoid writing one of these “Sorry for not blogging, this is everything I’ve done in the past month!” posts, but November really got away from me. I had good intentions and thought I’d be able to get individual posts down about each respective activity, but I just don’t think I’ll have time. So this will have to do. (Besides, I know you’re all just dying for information.)
Here’s how I spent November in Spain:
I went to concerts.
The National: Cara loves the National, so when we heard they were playing the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, we decided to buy tickets. They were €50, which was a bit on the expensive side, but the show was incredible and worth every céntimo — even for a new fan like me. They had amazing energy and we had fun the entire time.
Daughter: I bought tickets to see Daughter way back in August, and I almost forgot about them. Thankfully I didn’t, because their show was amazing, too. They’re a British band who just released their first full-length album this fall. The concert was pretty low-key, but the music was gorgeous. As a bonus, we were also able to get pretty close to the stage, although I have no photo evidence because my Spanish phone has the worst camera I’ve ever seen.
The Tallest Man on Earth: This was definitely my favorite show of the three, and also one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. My slightly corny story about The Tallest Man on Earth is that I started listening to him when I was studying abroad, so I really liked that I got to finally see him live now that I’m back in Spain. I’m a big nerd and know almost every word to every song.
One of the best things about living in Madrid is its location. Spain’s capital city is almost exactly in the middle of the country, which makes it temptingly easy to travel. Segovia, Spain is just a half-hour train ride from Madrid, so my co-auxiliares and I decided to take a day trip to see the city and its famous Roman aqueduct.
Quick Link: Getting to Segovia
The snowy hillside from inside the train.
We woke up to a weather forecast of clouds and 1° C (35° F) on my trusty RTVE app, but that didn’t stop us. We packed scarves and hats and, after a leisurely we’re-so-late sprint through the Chamartín train station, we caught the train to Segovia. The trip takes just 30 minutes, but the weather and scenery is dramatically different from Madrid. When we came out of the first tunnel, we were thrilled to see rolling hills and — surprise! — a dusting of snow.
You might not know this about me, but I absolutely love snow. Even though there was less than an inch on the ground, I was really, really excited. Actually, we all were: Cara and Jo are both from Australia, and it doesn’t snow too often there.
The Mediterranean Sea from Alicante’s Castillo de Santa Bárbara.
As many (most?) of you know, I studied abroad in Alicante, Spain in 2011.
I’m doing some travel writing for Lucerna Media, and my first assignment was a budget travelogue about my favorite Costa Blanca city. (Which was ideal, since I was definitely on a budget when I lived there.)
Alicante isn’t the most well-known city in Spain, but it has much more to offer than you might think — that is, if you know where to look.
Check out my travelogue to discover my favorite sights, restaurants, and bars in Alicante.