Traveling Spain & Greece On A Pauper’s Dime With A Purpose

We both could hardly contain ourselves as the plane finally landed on the runway at Madrid airport at 1200, after 10 hours flying time nonstop from Atlanta, Ga. We made our way from Madrid airport by subway to a street called Calle de Almanza 12, where a hostel located at this address is known as the Las Vegas Hostela. At the time of this writing the rooms were 55 Euros for a single, complete with a queen sized bed and its own bathroom.

A hostel building from the same company a hundred yards down street has rooms for twelve Euros less, but one is required to share the bathroom. The situation is tolerable and one that I have done many times over in the past, but I didn’t feel that the twelve Euros in savings was worth the loss of our personal privacy.

Our first hitch came about when the hostel didn’t have a record of us booking a room for three nights. This situation meant that we had to pay again for our three nights stay, hurting a poor backpacker’s traveling budget, along with giving insult to his constant dedication in the philosophy of thriving while traveling on the cheap.

Usually rooms in Europe are charged per person, but we honestly received a deal at this particular hostel, since the 55 Euros covered both the wife and myself, only demanding 25.5 from both of us; so in the end our unfortunate situation was not that bad. We had also wondered if the situation wasn’t by design from the hostel manager, who may have been making a double hit for quick cash, but we had no way of knowing the truth. Because of this fact, we both made a mental note to secure our receipts for the three nights that we paid for. We anticipated using these receipts later on to recoup our lost money from ASAP tickets once we returned to the states, whenever that was destined to be.

After we secured our room we both rested for a few hours, then set out around 1500, walking down the main street to the Grand Via Plaza only a few blocks down from where we were presently staying. While we could have taken the tourist Double Dutch bus for 26 Euros per person, seeing many more sights, getting off at desired places for the hour and productively spending the entire day; there is also something attractively intimate with the area found in taking a casual walk that simply can’t be replaced by any other means of transportation. Besides all of that, taking a walk in the cool breeze felt very pleasant. Don’t forget to bring along a wide brimmed adventurer’s hat in company with a bandanna folded and tied around one’s neck, if constant bright sunlight is going to sap energy or cause more chronic problems.

We made it to the Gran Via by 1700 and paused to watch a magic performance in the plaza area. By conclusion of the show, the time was around 1900. We both paused for a spell in the plaza area, watching a variety of skits being performed all around us while we both rested on very comfortable wooden benches found throughout the park, then headed along on our way. We made it back to our room via the Metro line by 2300 hours, when darkness had just blanketed the landscape. The most efficient manner of travel is to purchase a card loaded with the 10 Euro Metro or bus travel pass.

On day two of our stay in Madrid, we rose from bed around 1100, then walked down to the local food market where packaged meats and sliced bread could be found for less than one Euro each. This meat packed between two slices of bread made for a fine breakfast, washed down with some espresso coffee purchased at the local McDonald’s for a Euro per cup. As always, its much more efficient to pack along one’s own coffee from home, or to purchase a jar of Nescafe instant at the local markets for 4.5 Euros, if one can find a method of heating the water. It also doesn’t do any harm to pack along twenty or thirty packs of instant oatmeal, as I did. An all round multivitamin for adults should allow any extended stay traveler to safely reduce food intake to the barest minimum possible, while still preserving one’s health.

Once breakfast had been completed we both began a walk back down to the Gran Via, toward the Plaza Mayor, and the Plaza Espania. While the Gran Via certainly has its positive appeal, the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza Espania are must see areas for all visitors to Madrid.

The Plaza Mayor was once a huge palace and parade area for a number of important Spanish Kings. The elegance from the time period may still be witnessed today. There is a cathedral there worth visiting for its artistic quality, and is free to enter. Teachers, the handicapped, and the unemployed may visit the entire plaza area free of charge. All others can do so for a meager 8 Euros per person.

The Plaza Espainia is a huge nature park on a hill overlooking the city of Madrid. Here one may snap some outstanding photographs, or he might choose to visit a restored second century B.C. Egyptian cultist temple to Debod. Admission is always free up to the moment of this writing.

The wife and I spent the entire day taking walks along the plazas, sipping the many varieties of beer on tap, and chatting casually among ourselves. As usual, we made an entire day and evening of it, returning to our room at around 2300. I finished off our evening by making one last trip to the local food market adjacent to the hostel, where I purchased a full liter of red vino wine for a single Euro. The wife tends to favor Sangria, which can be purchased at two liters a container for only 2.5 Euros.

What we soon discovered once we were on the ground in Salamanca was that one could literally rent in advance a nice apartment there for mere 350 Euros. One could spend more, to suit his desire in elegance, but anything beyond basic practicality without any sacrifice to comfort , was what interested us. Power and internet could be accessed for 20 Euros. I didn’t ask about water, but it couldn’t have been much beyond 10 euros. In other words, for around 400 Euros one could access a comfortable apartment with utilities in Salamanca, Spain.

A six month rental paid out in advance would equal 2400-3000 Euros. With only another 3000 in Euros saved one could get by in relative comfort and ease. Such realities might be a retired persons dream come true, since with only 12000 Euros he could live well in an almost crime free environment. Other creative individuals might find their own use for this type of information as well. Maybe at a later date I could give a jobs report to accompany the type of information recorded above.

This move would give one a central point of location in the country at large. From there a person could easily travel to better destinations in Spain, such as Pamplona, and other nearby destinations. While in Pamplona a party atmosphere is prevalent, one could also attend the bullfights, and other traditional events. Madrid, the capitol city, is also in relatively close approximation. For a mere 85 Euros one can purchase a ticket to Seville and Grenada. For 130 Euros he can purchase a three day and night stay there, complete with shelter and food included. Beware of petty thieves while in Barcelona or Madrid. I lost my cell phone there, as you may recall.

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