Madrid was an incredible experience. I went to this beautiful city in the very beginning of my journey as a self proclaimed professional traveler and it was one of my first experiences with traveling alone in a different country from my own. At the time, I felt overwhelmed, but looking back it was probably one of the most enriching experiences I have had since I began traveling. First and foremost, I took four years of Spanish, but I am nowhere near equipped to be holding a conversation with anyone in the language, but when you put yourself into a situation where you are reliant on knowing a different language, it’s pretty incredible how quickly you can pick it up.
Upon my arrival, it was easy to navigate through the airport. I was able to find my way to the underground metro and get to my hostel. I have never seen such a well functioning public transportation system. I was able to navigate through all of it while not knowing the language very proficiently. I had a very short window of time in Madrid, which is clearly a pattern in my travels, so I was looking to get the most out of it that I could. I spent the morning in the beautiful Buen Retiro Park. Walking through this park surrounded by the beautiful autumn colors was breathtaking. I stumbled upon numerous interesting statues and little bridges and the park itself was extremely serene. I navigated my way to Plaza De La Cibeles and eventually to Puerta Del Sol where I found a quaint café and sat and read my book, ate some dinner, and drank a couple beers.
There was something very powerful about navigating alone through a country that I had never been to and couldn’t speak the language. I encourage everyone to place them out of their comfort zone and learn comfort in being alone. It was enriching attempting to communicate with the locals and I was able to strengthen some of my Spanish skills. Every time I asked for help or attempted to communicate, everyone was more than willing to help and eager to help correct errors in my pronunciation of grammar. Experiencing a foreign country alone teaches you a lot about yourself, especially in relationship to the rest of the world. Traveling alone is frightening, it is daunting, but it is so enriching.