It’s been quite a while since my last post because I have been so incredibly busy traveling, studying, and attempting to get a normal person’s amount of sleep. The first two have been relatively successful!
A couple weeks ago I visited Madrid, Spain that was supported by the study abroad program so I saved all money relating to lodging and tourism activities (yay small wins!!). The first day we arrived there, we immediately threw our carry-on suitcases in our hotel rooms and went downstairs for the tour. The hotel they put us up in was an intriguing mix of old spanish brick and modern furbishing. We were really surprised at how nice the rooms were, and we even had a free all you can eat breakfast! During out tour, we wore earpieces that reminded me of an old Mission Impossible movie while we attempted to hear the guide over the howling wind. The architecture and history was beautiful and a lot less touristy than Barcelona. My favorite part was the Madrid royal palace that, for the first time in history, in uninhabited by the current royal family.
Apparently, they felt that Western’s Europe’s largest palace with more than 2800 rooms is not “homey” enough for them. Go figure. Another fun site that we stumbled upon was the oldest restaurant in the entire world. Not, that was not a typo. There is a Guiness Book of World Records certificate at the front and if you researched it you would find this petite wooden gem of a restaurant tucked away in the calles of Madrid. For those of you who doubt me, search Sobrino de Botin on the old google machine and see what you find :).
(Sobrino de Botin)
After the day long tour, they set us loose to explore around Madrid and make plans for dinner on our own. We had recommendations from other abroad friends to try out a restaurant called “El Tigre” that is known for its abundance of quality tapas. And they were not wrong. The way the restaurant worked was that you ordered a drink and then they gave you plates on plates of tapas that you didn’t pick out. So we ordered sangrias and ended up with 9 plates of tapas that ranged from croquettes to el pan tomate to salchichas (sausage) in hot sauce. MmmmMmmmm. We became clean plate members and our group of about 8 kids demolished north of 10 plates of tapas. I would add that as an achievement to my resume for sure.
The next day we went to a little town called Toledo, which used to by the capital of Spain until the Royal family decided to move to Madrid and made Madrid the capital. Toledo is known for sword making, the Alcázar (bishop church of Spain), and “The Burial of Count Orgaz” which is one of the most famous paintings by El Greco. The swords they make in Toledo have been used in a little movie franchise called Lord of the Rings. Heard of it? Let’s just say my nerdy side was coming out pretty hard during that part. The cathedral in Toledo is the 4th largest cathedral in the entire world and teeming with stained glass and gold opulence. I was floored. Finally, the El Greco painting was particularly interesting to me because I studied the painting my sophomore year in a Spanish prerequisite to my minor and remember my professor’s obsession with the Spanish painter. Good to see my education is paying off a bit! :)
(Fluffin’ it up in Toledo)
That night, we decided to hit up the famous club, Kapital, in Madrid and it did not disappoint. Our entire program had the same idea and we occupied several VIP tables on the fourth floor of the 7 floor club. To many, this club is considered the best club they have EVER been to. Each floor has a different theme/music and all floors look over the ground floor dance stage. Gigantic glass panels held up by metal cords would shift in the middle of the club to reflect the strobe lights and colorful beams. It was absolutely insanely cool. I would highly recommend it to any person visiting Madrid.
(Great friends at Kapital)
By the end of the trip, we were so tired and ready to get back to the grind of CIEE Barca classes. I am really starting to get a routine here and discover the coffee shops with the best cappuccinos and café con leches. Going back to the U.S. Starbucks is going to be a little tough. Those classes and routined life has led up to this past weekend that I spent in London. London will take an entirely different post.
SIDE NOTE: My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with pictures from my phi mu girlies at Formal and date parties (umm one date party was in Canada, WHAT). You guys looked so beautiful, especially my little samantha :). And you really clean up good roomsicles! I had a little bit of FOMO when looking at your pics but I think my ratio of likes/comments/favorites and so on made up for it a bit ;).