Streets upon streets filled with crowds of people, multiple languages and cultures, and colorful stalls selling different products, it is all you can ask for on a Sunday morning at el Rastro just south of the La Latina metro stop. 

El Rastro de Madrid, or more commonly known as el Rastro, is one of my favorite parts of Madrid. The open air flea market is held every Sunday during the year and offers everything you could possibly need, and that is not an exaggeration. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a solid six hours for you to find what you need. A winter coat for 10 euro that would normally cost 30 to 40 in a store, is easily found during this time of year, cute clothing for males and females can be found at bargain prices, especially if you look at the two euro liquidación piles. If you're looking for handmade jewelry and original artwork, then this is the place to go. Last but not least, if you want to get your hands on authentic Spanish music then look no farther than the several vendors who blare their favorite picks and allow you to sample them before purchasing. 

The first time I ever went to el Rastro was several years ago when I first came to Madrid. It was sensory overload with the number of people in the streets canned like sardines and the occasional vendors yelling their deal of the day at those who walked by. The prices were unbelievably cheap and the numerous souvenirs, house products, clothes, artwork and more were too much to choose from. I learned from that experience that you have to go in with a plan, and my plan for my trip last weekend was a warm coat or hat and a gift for my mother. 

We went to el Rastro at 12:00 in the afternoon, a good time to go if you want to be behind the tourist crowd that comes along around 11:00 a.m. and the bargainers between nine and ten. The group of four and myself walked up and down, strolling to see if what we were looking for popped out at us. Some of us purchased wool socks and tights, a jump drive and winter hats and headbands, others bought gifts for family members. I purchased a knit headband and a gift for my mother, though I can't say what I bought for her since she reads this blog more than everyone combined. Sorry, folks. 

While shopping and hunting down the best deals you can't help but just people watch. With all the different nationalities and languages being spoken it is hard to not whip your head back and forth in awe. I am 100 percent guilty of staring at people at el Rastro, I won't deny it. It's too fun not to do. 

The best thing about open air flea markets is that you can take your time moseying through the aisles and no one will care because they are doing the same thing. The same is true at el Rastro though I do believe that this market has something over others I have been to and I wasn't sure if my observation was correct until I did some more research. Here, the aisles are broken up into categories and each street has something different to offer but the one common thread between all the streets is the fact that local antique shops open their doors for the Sunday cliental to stop in and peruse if the stalls prove to be overwhelming. Now, the antique stores weren't the observation I was talking about it is the following streets that seem to have something special to offer.   

  • Calle Rodas: Where lots of people, mostly young, swap trading cards. The street is known for buying and selling magazines, stamps, and trading cards. Get your Yu-Gi-Oh! on here. 
  • Plaza de Cascorro: Get your fashionista on here. This is known for it's fun and unique clothing and accessories. 
  • Calle San Cayetano: has permanent stalls that sell hand crafted paintings, drawings and of course art supplies. Also known as "street of the painters" or "Calle de los Pintores." This is a LeRoy Anderson, Jr. type of aisle. 
  • Collectable and rare books, magazines and other reading material can be found at vendors around calle Rodascalle CarneroPlaza de General Vara del Rey, and calle Carlos Arniches. If you want to brush up on your old Castilian, be my guest. 

Having no rhyme or reason is difficult when you're shopping, but knowing these streets consistently offer the same items week after week is comforting. 

After spending time at el Rastro it is customary to go have a beer or sangria and enjoy tapas. There are multiple places that you can go, relax and talk about all your great deals. So, by the time five o'clock comes around on a Sunday after the market you should have no reason to not be all smiles. After all, you at least got to hear lively Spanish music and look at beautiful artwork for free.  

Name this song: 

Now why would I ever stop doing this?
With others makin' records that just don't hit
I've toured around the world, from London to the Bay
It's "Hammer, go Hammer, MC Hammer, yo, Hammer"

Answer: U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer

Now, try this one: 

How high? Real high 'cause I'm just so fly
A young lovable, hugable type of guy
And everything is to the back with a little slack
'Cause inside-out is wiggity, wiggity, wiggly wack

Answer: Jump by Kriss Kross 

The point of the quiz: Nightlife for Madrileños
The point of the quiz: Nightlife for Madrileños

This week we went to El Chapandaz, a bar near the metro stop Moncloa that has been around since one of our directors was young. At first I was skeptical but then they started playing music from the 1990's and it was an absolute blast of a throwback. Each of us broke out in song while other patrons looked at us like we were insane. One of the boys, who you would not expect to know every word to "U Can't Touch This" absolutely did, and he rocked out like I had never seen him do before. We jumped, bobbed our heads and rocked out like Will Smith in his "Getting' Jiggy Wit' It" music video. We left El Chapandaz around 3:30 a.m. before we left to walk around the city for a bit. All of us arrived home at approximately 5:00 a.m.. You may gasp, that is permitted, but do note that this is early for people of my age. 

I like to have fun just, like any average Marquette student, but I was not made for these late evenings. Or should I say early mornings? The youth, and even some of our señoras, leave their homes after dinner around 11:30 or 12:00 to meet their friends at a communal place before they set out for their final destination. When Madrileños first meet for the evening they sit around, laugh, casually have a few beers and when 1:00 a.m. comes around they head to the bar or discoteca. It's a nice change in pace than in the United States where the majority of the clubs and bars close around 2:00 but my goodness gracious a girl has to sleep and it can't be all afternoon! 

Now, we don't do this all the time. We do study, we do relax and we do enjoy the small things in life (like sleep). However, I do feel lazy when my señora asks if I am going out, I say no, and then she gives me a look as if I have the plague. Nightlife is different here and the energy of the youth in Europe is quite different than that of the youth in the United States. We know how to have fun, that's not a question, it's just whether we want to stay out in time to grab churros and coffee in the morning at San Ginés and then take the metro home. Decisions, decisions. You just have to remember you only live once and it's not every night you get to jam out to MC Hammer and the Spice Girls... Just saying.