“Don’t bother going to Madrid. They’re so rude!” my best friend’s mom told me shortly before I left for Europe, when I told her that my summer travels included a short trip to Spain. How bad can it be! I thought to myself, after all, my roots are Spanish (albeit, back in the Conquistador days), and I can manage to speak Spanish on a really good day! Plus, Barcelona, in the south, is an amazingly friendly city! How bad can Madrid be?
Why didn’t I listen to my best friend’s all-knowing mother. It wasn’t that the people in Madrid were rude, per say. The restaurant staff were terrible human beings, but besides that, no one was too horrible to us. The following is an excerpt of what happened to us in a Tex-Mex taco chain:
Sassy waiter takes order. Asks me if I want spicy or not spicy sauce. I tell him I want chipotle sauce, and he scribbles down my order and gets to work making it. When he hands me my taco, it has spicy green sauce in it.
“Um, hi, yeah, I actually ordered chipotle sauce.” -me, innocently.
“No. You ordered spicy sauce. So I give you spicy sauce.” -aggressive taco place employee.
“I don’t like spicy. So there wouldn’t be a reason I would have said I WANTED SPICY SAUCE ON MY TACO.” -me, attempting to keep my cool.
“WELL GET OVER HERE AND TELL ME EXACTLY WHAT SAUCE YOU WANT, BECAUSE I’M NOT MAKING THIS TACO FOR YOU AGAIN AFTER THIS.” -hothead Tex-Mex taco place employee.
No, seriously. He shouted AND demanded for me to get my arse over OR ELSE. I killed him with kindness, and sweetly went over and described to him the exact sauce I wanted, and he huffed and puffed the entire time over the fact that he had to actually do his job right.
AND THE SECOND TIME we got treated rudely by wait staff… (keep in mind we were only in Madrid two full days… we had two terrible incidences within just as many days…) we were eating paella very calmly, when a large group came in to eat paella as well. Who could blame them. The place we were at was giving out massive portions for €6! HOWEVER, instead of telling the group they had to wait five minutes for the appropriate space to clear up, the wait staff LITERALLY kicked us off our table, muttered a half-heared sorry, and started to clear the table. Mid-meal! RIDICULOUS. MADRID, WHY YOU SUCK.
I mean, besides that, Madrid was grand. It’s the capital of Spain, and it feels very regal. And the food! Churros, cafe, and paella are all my love language. Would I go back? Maybe not. I really really love Barcelona, primarily because it’s a coastal town and the people overall are way friendlier there. But, hey, it was nice to give Madrid a chance.
SO, to sum it all up… enter Madrid at your own risk! You’ll have friendly shopkeepers, and rude salesmen, but in the end I suppose it’s what you make of it! Our hostel was super cozy and in a good location, and we can’t complain about how cheap the food was. AND THE SUN! Madrid is repeatedly named Europe’s sunniest capital, and we clearly saw why when we got sunburns after being out for ten minutes. It felt just like sunny ‘ole Texas.
Except a lot less southern hospitality.