After Val picked me up at the airport, we made our way back to her apartment. It was a cute little flat on the first floor that had two bedrooms and a comfy couch. I quickly claimed this couch as my own.
After over 24 hours of traveling I was somehow still standing (and rearing to go) so we set out to find some wifi to buy our train tickets out of Madrid a few days later.
That is why the very first store I went into in Madrid was a Starbucks. I'm not proud of that.
It amazed me how many "American" chains were in Spain. Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell restaurants could be spotted in 300 year old buildings and next to authentic jamon stores or tapas bars. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find a book in English or the right brand of face wash but I shouldn't have been- in Madrid, Dove is just as common as anything else.
After our little walk to find wifi, I lay down to "take a nap" and ended up sleeping for around 8 hours. My little habit of falling asleep in the middle of the day lasted the entire time I was in Madrid and greatly impacted my sight seeing in the light. Fortunately, Madrid never seems to sleep.
My two goals in Spain were to drink a beer and try jamon, the famous Spanish ham. Both were extremely easy to come by. Val and I walked around the city, getting familiar with the metro and the loud clatter of these flashing toys that flew up into the air in all the big squares.
The one day I managed to stay awake past noon, we ventured over to the Royal Palace in Madrid. I gawked at the price (just a few euros, I'm cheap) and almost didn't go in. I'm so glad Val convinced me otherwise.
The Royal Palace was exactly how you would picture a palace- ridiculously decadent, extravagant and downright royal. There was a room for eating breakfast, a room for writing letters, a room for greeting guests, a room for receiving questions from citizens, a room for praying, an actual cathedral room and another room for worshiping. (Keep in mind that there was also a giant cathedral on the other side of the square. These people took building places to worship very seriously!)
After a few days of exploring (lots of walking) and sleeping (mostly at odd hours,) Val and I got on a train and headed into the Spanish country side.