World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain

Pope or party.

Arriving in Madrid during World Youth Day.

When I told people that I was going to Madrid in August they all warned me that it wasn’t the best time to go. August is when locals take vacation, they told me, so many things might be closed and the city would be somewhat deserted.

Madrid during World Youth Day 2011

What those people failed to take into account, though, was that while I arrived on a hot August day, so did another man you may have heard of. His name is the Pope.

Madrid during World Youth Day 2011

And, apparently, where the Pope goes, others follow. About two million others to be exact.

Tapas in Madrid, Spain.

Just a few nights before I left for Madrid I had never even heard of “World Youth Day.” I mentioned to someone at my hostel in Granada that I was going to Madrid and she asked if I was going for the event. I said “no” and then, the next day, googled for what it was.

Tapas in Madrid, Spain.

Apparently it’s a big yearly Catholic thing.

So no, when I arrived in Madrid it was anything but closed down and deserted. It was crowded, full of people singing songs and waving flags. Holding hands. Chanting. And full of police cars and police officers watching over.

Tapas in Madrid, Spain.

My hostel was crowded with families and groups there for one reason only. But, luckily, most of the people in my room were also not there for the Pope.

Tapas in Madrid, Spain.

So we banded together and wound our way through the crowd in search of dinner. And after rejecting many restaurants on the way finally found a good place. And we ordered sangria and tapas. And they were delicious and all “breakfasty” in nature (lots of eggs and sausage) but we either thought we were ordering way more tapas than we got or were overpaying for way too little food. But turns out we just ordered fewer than we thought. All was good though. And for a few moments of eating we were able to escape the busy streets into an only somewhat busy restaurant to experience good food and good conversation. I guess we all have our own religion…

Tapas in Madrid, Spain.

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

1 Comment
  • Rebecca
    September 9, 2011at1:53 pm

    Haha, I arrived in Sydney in 2008 during WYD and ohmigod, the city was crazy! The worst part was trying to find accommodation! Luckily I booked in advance, but it still eff’d me over for about 2 weeks.

    The energy was great, but as a non-christian (jew in the house!) I didn’t really care.

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