Madrid and Toledo:Week 7

27 Oct

Well, I made it through another week. At this point, I have 7 weeks down and a little over 8 to go. Which means for all you college kids, that you have less than 8 weeks left in the semester. Time to hit the books! Although I am having a good time here in Spain, I know that I will be glad to return to the United States in a little under two months. In fact, I have already warned my parents of the excited waterworks that they will face when I enter the JFK Airport on December 20th. Lucky them, right?

The school part of this week was extremely unexciting. So for those of you out there who think that my studying abroad is all fun and no work, just remember that for four days out of every week I begrudgingly trudge to school and takes notes in class just like you. I even had my first test this week, but considering that it involved me speaking about 5 sentences to the class in Spanish, I have nothing to complain about. There was a beginning of term celebration held last Thursday, which involved a speaker and free food/alcoholic beverages provided by the school. Even though I did not drink any, it just goes to show how academic institutions are different here in Europe from their counterparts in the US!

But, as uneventful as my school week was, the weekend definitely made up for it. I traveled to Madrid and Toledo with my program. The bus ride was five hours long and was quite painful. I mean, you can only play Candy Crush for so long. But finally, we arrived at El Escorial which is a gorgeous palace built outside of Madrid. And, this lovely building happens to hold all of the caskets and remains of a large majority of the Spanish royal family. Some people think its creepy; I loved it.

But, I was also happy because in Madrid it finally felt like fall! In Granada, the weather is still hot and sunny every day. I am not complaining-I much prefer this weather to the cold- but I have been missing the fall weather. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy fall until it didn’t happen. Plus, seeing all of the apple-picking/pumpkin picking/foliage pictures on social media does not help! We got to enjoy the fall weather whilst eating lunch outside in a park. Like many Spanish parks, this one featured outdoor exercise equipment. What a great way to burn off lunch and delicious dark chocolate cookies?

Fall has arrived in Spain!

Fall has arrived in Spain!

Awkwardly working out in the park

Awkwardly working out in the park

After a long day, it was nice to finally make it into Madrid. For those of you that have never ventured to Madrid, just know that it is large, contains lots of people (and weird street performers) and has American chain restaurants on many corners. I never realized how safe I feel in Granada until going to Madrid, because one of the girls in my group almost got robbed within the first 30 minutes of us being there. Needless to say, I did not walk anywhere by myself at night. The rest of Friday consisted of walking around the city, eating at TGI Friday’s (I am really big on new cultural experiences) and eating some world famous churros and chocolate. Of the things that I will miss about Spain when I return to the US, one will be the almighty dessert that is the churro.

Saturday was a day of many cultural experiences. It started off with a visit to the royal palace. If you were looking for a place to play an incredible game of hide and seek, this would be the location. Absolutely massive. We had a guided tour of the palace, and I must admit that every time I take a tour, I miss giving tours at UD. It takes a lot of inner strength to stop myself from commandeering the tour and giving it myself. Other than the palace, I also visited two art museums. While I am sure that you do not care about the details of the museums, I will say that after visiting the modern art museum, I still don’t understand modern art at all. I mean, one of the “works” in the museum was a piece of white paper with colored pencil lines on it. And, considering that the lines weren’t even straight, I am pretty sure I (who only did well in art thanks to effort points), could have produced an exact (or better copy). Plus, one exhibit was birds in a cage. Granted, birds are cool, but how is that art? Anyone can put colored birds in a cage…

In case you were wondering what art looks like these days...

In case you were wondering what art looks like these days…

But, my favorite cultural experience of all, was going to the Real Madrid game. It took quite a while to find my seat in a sea of fast-talking, slow-moving soccer fans, but after that, the experience was incredible! The stadium was filled with so much energy and excitement. It was an unforgettable environment and afternoon. Plus, contrary to the belief of some of my soccer playing siblings, I actually did understand what was going on on the field, and I loved watching the game! After the game though, was another interesting experience. I learned that many of the soccer fans hang around after the game and then mob the fancy cars of the players as they drive out of the stadium. So, I participated in a soccer ritual by crowding the streets of Madrid and mobbing the cars. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the chiseled faces of Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale in person though…

 

In the Real Madrid Stadium!

And, on Sunday was my birthday! Not many people (besides for the Spaniards) get to say that they spent their 20th birthday gallivanting through the Spanish countryside. But, I guess that makes me special. I was initially worried about how the day would go considering it was my first birthday away from home, but I ended up having a great day. I got sung to in Spanish (although I am still not sure what the words in the song are), had some birthday cake, and got to visit some beautiful places. We went to Toledo first, which is an absolutely gorgeous city. It is easily my favorite place that I have been to so far in Spain. There, we toured the city, visited a historical synagogue and had lunch (fried chicken and french fries, in a Spanish restaurant, nonetheless)Then, on our way back to Granada, we stopped in Castilla-La Mancha to visit some old windmills. I thought that was quite spectacular!

View of Toledo

View of Toledo

 

The boyfriend I left in Toledo

The boyfriend I left in Toledo

Just a pretty cool old windmill

Just a pretty cool old windmill

 

Not Bonnie's chocolate cake or chocolate mousse pie, but still delicious!

Not Bonnie’s chocolate cake or chocolate mousse pie, but still delicious!

All in all, it was a very good birthday. Plus, when I got home, I video-chatted with some of my favorite family members, which only made the day better!

Until next time, mis amigos!

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One Response to “Madrid and Toledo:Week 7”

  1. Kristin October 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Wow! What an exciting weekend. It’s great to hear do much detail about the places you are visiting and new experiences you are having. I think I’ll probably cry when I see you, so beware.

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