I just realized that this blog post I wrote a million years ago (back in October) is up on CollegeTourist.com so check it out:
Take a sweet ride with your Tarjeta de Transporte Publico, the red metro card in Madrid.
I’ve been studying in Madrid, Spain for a month and half and today I FINALLY had my appointment to get my Metro card. You can buy single ride or 10 ride passes but if you use the Metro as your primary form of transportation, as I do, then it can be more economical to get a Tarjeta de Transporte Público (the red Metro card). It’s good for one month and all you need to do is drag it over the sensor quickly before hopping onto your train! It’s also pretty official because they take your picture and you have to bring your passport and answer a bunch of questions. For some reason, it takes about a million years to actually make an appointment to purchase your Metro card so some of the staff at my school have been working endlessly to get appointments for the students in my program. But let me tell you, I’ve had it for a day and it’s already much easier!
Why I’m obsessed with the Metro:
- I live in a teeny tiny little town in Connecticut where people pretty much ask what public transportation is. “Are those the buses that go to the mall?” You NEED a car to have a life and get absolutely anywhere. The idea that I can just pay a few bucks and get wherever I need to go effortlessly is still mind-boggling to me! Since I go to school in Massachusetts, I’ve taken the MBTA numerous times but I find it much more expensive, difficult to navigate, and inaccessible. Madrid is a pedestrian city so walking and taking public transportation are where it’s at.
- Sit back and relax. Okay, sometimes it sucks when the cars are full or it’s 50 thousand degrees in there. Most of the time, though, I sit back and relax with my Kindle. It can often be the most relaxing part of my day.
- IT’S SO EASY TO NAVIGATE. Okay, when you first look at the map you will think I’m crazy for trying to say that this web of colors is ‘easy’ but I promise if I can do it, anyone can! I’ve never met anyone more directionally challenged than I am but it took me less than a week to get a handle on this whole rail system and now I’ve come to enjoy it.
- It’s an easy meeting place. Any time you are meeting someone, you say you’ll meet them outside a certain stop and BAM instant meeting spot. Even if there are multiple exits, they are all very close so you’ll always find your friends.
- People watching. Everyone and their brother rides the metro so you can spot some interesting folks. My favorite is when people bring their little dogs onto the train, because DOGS! I also love taking a second out of my day to listen to the guys who play violin in the stairwell, or when people sing and play guitar on the train.
- The night bus. (So basically I’m living in a Harry Potter movie….) After the Metro shuts down at 1:30am, Madrid just starts to get going. The nightlife here is unreal and one of the most significant parts of Spanish culture and daily life, especially for young people. How do you get home, you ask? In addition to taking a taxi, which is usually around 10 euro, there are a few bus lines that operate until the Metro opens up again at 6am. Unless you are still out partying until then, which I will admit to having done before (that’s normal here, I promise!!!) the night bus is your best option. In addition to these busses, the public transportation system in Madrid also includes a series of bus routes which can also be very simple to navigate and will take you quickly to your destination!
- How cool is it that you twist and turn through these underground tunnels on a piece of machinery to get from Point A to Point B? Freakin’ science, man.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that we need to get a system like this EVERYWHERE. Or that you need to study abroad in Madrid. Both are wise choices!