Here is the summary of what my first full week in Spain was like!
Sunday, July 3, 2016
- El Rastro market – it was HUGE and had everything one could possibly want to buy
- La Puerta del Toledo – we got a little lost leaving El Rastro, but we stumbled upon it and it was gorgeous!
- San Gínes – a really famous chocoletría for churros con chocolate!
- Lunch at a place near Retiro Park with lomo de cuedra, ensalada, pastel de chocolate, y VINO!! I tried Rioja (the Spanish red wine) and it was pretty gross…not my favorite. I also had more café and I am really starting to like it…
- EL PARQUE RETIRO – Wow it was gorgeous! Ana, Elena, Melissa, Tori, and I probably saw ¼, if that, of the park and it was absolutely stunning. We tooks lots of pictures went on a super cool seesaw, and Ana, Melissa, and I rode in the boats!
- Dinner – homemade Bonito (a type of fish from northern Spain that is only eaten in the summer), rice, and an apple cake!
Monday, July 4, 2016
- First day of class! July 4th is not a national holiday here so I began to focus on the “study” in study abroad today. They both seem like they will be really fun and helpful so I am excited about the next few weeks!
- I went back to Mercado de Ibiza for lunch and loved it once again
- Went to the bookstore to pick up the books that I need for my classes
- To celebrate the 4th of July, we all went to a party in Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (the Real Madrid Stadium)!! For a small price we were able to get into the VIP section of the stadium where there were DJs, people, and everyone got 1 free glass of wine. It was way more fun than I expected and I stayed a lot later than I thought too! Overall, it was a great night.
- Unfortunately, the night ended with me losing my metro card (which are personalized here so losing it is a bigger deal), but it is easily replaceable.
- My host mom made me tortilla con patatas and jamón for dinner and it was DELISSSHH!
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
- Day 2 of class went well and I actually had homework to do…boooooooooo!
- I tried the cafeteria at the university today while planning my other trips while I’m here with some friends
- Figured out how to get a replacement metro card and went to get all that settled. It wasn’t too hard, but it was the first time I was completely on my own to figure out something that was brand new in the city 100% in Spanish! It went very smoothly all things considered.
- I got to meet my host mom’s sister and niece who were visiting from Barcelona.
- Going to bed early tonight was a fantastic idea
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
- More classes and learning and waking up early…bleh. At least I’m finally learning the subjunctive form of Spanish verbs!
- After class, I went to a supermarket here for the first time to buy some snacks and a few tastes of home. Grocery stores here are very similar to those in the United States, but the produce section is significantly different so I didn’t even try to buy apples.
- For lunch I finally had huevos rotos!
- The most exciting part of the day was going to el Palacio Cristal in Retiro Park! It was gorgeous and I really enjoyed getting to see more of the park.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
- Last day of class for the week! Tomorrow we have a day trip to Segovia.
- Grabbed lunch at a little café near my house and I have a feeling I will be eating there again…
- I had the house to myself for a while today because my host mom is out of town and my host sister was gone. It was weird, but also really nice because I was able to nap, do some homework, and really relax!
- For una merienda (a snack) Tori and I decided to venture to El Mercado San Miguel (a super famous and awesome market here) to eat some pinchos and just walk around. I got croquettas de bacalao and some fruit! Definitely will be taking the family here and probably returning myself in the future!
- Dinner was pretty calm….my host sister made me pasta! The coolest part of it was that I was able to share the gospel with her and we had a great talk all about religion and what I believe and why. I am so thankful to God for helping my with my Spanish during the conversation and for giving me this opportunity to talk about Him!
Friday, July 8, 2016
- SEGOVIA!! Got up bright and early to head to Segovia, a small, but important city, about an hour or more outside of Madrid.
- Upon arrival we went to Alcazar de Segovia, the castle Walt Disney modeled his famous opening credits castle after! It was absolutely stunning inside and out. I am constantly amazed by the detail and architecture in Europe. We also climbed about 200 steps up to the tower to see a gorgeous view of the countryside and Segovia.
- Catedral de Segovia – WOW INCREDIBLY IMPRESSIVE! The outside was definitely way cooler than the inside, but the inside was a grand European catholic cathedral with a courtyard, rooms for about 30 different saints, and multiple organs. I can’t even describe all the detail that went into creating it!
- For lunch: cochinillo, aka pan seared pig! When I say pig, I mean like the WHOLE PIG! As per tradition, it was sliced up with a plate in front of the group so we could see how tender it was. I have to say, it was delicious.
- Finally the AQUEDUCT! It really was as awesome as I had heard! Massive (still operating) Roman aqueduct made without any building materials or adhesives, just a bunch of stones placed together! Can’t decide if I liked this or the castle better, they both were so gorgeous!
- Tori and I spent some of the evening going out and walking around Gran Vía to see what Madrid night life is like there
Saturday, July 9, 2016
- TOLEDO! Elliot, Ana, Melissa, Nisa, Tori, and I took a day trip to Toledo, a 45 minute bus ride away from Madrid. (Side note: it was at least 100 degrees all day so it was a hot one)
- We started the day in Toledo with breathtaking views because the old part of the city is up on a hill, built like a fortress, because it is known as The Imperial City…it was clearly built to defend itself during a time of war. It is a walled city with tons of towers and posts for soldiers, plus the roads were intentionally designed in an incredibly confusing manner so that attackers would get lost, giving locals an advantage.
- Plaza de Zocodover – for coffee and a light snack before the long day ensued
- Alcazar of Toledo – the castle! It was stunning and is currently half historical castle, half military museum. There was a military school in Toledo where Spanish soldiers trained for hundreds of years. Very impressive place to visit!
- Toledo Cathedral – definitely the most ornate and impressive cathedral INSIDE that I have ever seen (and that is saying a lot because Europe is full of gorgeous cathedrals)! The outside was beautiful, but it was what was inside that really amazed me.
- Mosque of Cristo de la Luz – while pretty with a lovely garden with a view over the side of the mountain, the mosque was a little disappointing because we couldn’t go inside of it much and it was smaller than we expected because the photos were a little deceiving. That being said, I am still incredibly happy that we went!
- A lunch of paella, meat, and potatoes…doesn’t get much more Spanish than that!
- El Greco house and museum – El Greco lived in Toledo for a lot of his life and almost exclusively for his artistic career. I got to see where he lived and learned a lot about him! Apparently he was not appreciated at all in his time, in fact, lots of people discredited his art because it was not biblically accurate in their opinion. His peak fame came almost 300 years after his death!
- Synagogue of El Transito – I had never seen historical synagogue so this was really interesting! Toledo is known as the “City of Three Cultures” because it was under the reign of Catholics, Jews, and Arabs at some point and all three cultures are strongly represented. I got to see a cathedral, mosque, and synagogue that were hundreds of years old in just one day!
- Monastery of San Juan and los Reyes – didn’t go in due to a wedding going on, but it was gorgeous from the outside!
- Puente de San Martín – this was probably my favorite part of the trip! It was stunning and I got to see the water along with the walls around Toledo. Plus I went zip-lining along it, over the river, which was incredibly cool and soooooo much fun!
- To get home, I led the group on a walk along the outside of the city so we got to see most of the city walls along with La Puerta del Sol, which looked like it was the main entrance to the city during its heyday. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk back and it was probably one of my favorite parts of the day!
- The day didn’t stop there! A few of us went to a famous tapas place in downtown Madrid for dinner, called Parrilla Alhambra. We had smoked bacalao (cod), sausages, garlic shrimp, and squid!
Well, it was a busy week! Sorry, no pictures this time, but I did try to include more detail about the cooler things I did! See y’all in a week 🙂 nos vemos!