Hi there again!!
I want to spend some time in this post talking about Madrid, the capital of Spain, and the city we spent our first two days touring around! Madrid is the largest city in Spain…almost 4 million people live in the actual city, another 2 million in the suburbs surrounding it! They call Madrid, “el Corazon de Espana”, the heart of Spain. It is old and traditional, yet also very modern. We spent most of our time in the older, historical part of the city.
Our day in Madrid was very busy!! Tuesday morning we headed out early to visit “El Museo del Prado”, the Prado Museum. I have actually already been here before, but this time around I had much more appreciation for the artists and masterpieces. Last semester I was able to take a class on the culture and history of Spain, where we studied these artists and the history behind their work. They have some of the most well known pieces of art in the world in the Prado. I hope to write a separate post later on about my experience there, and my favorite pieces of work but for now I will leave my description at that! We were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but here are a few from the outside.
Front and side views of El Prado! It’s a huge museum!
Cathedral next to Museum.
After an hour filled with El Greco, Goya, and Velasquez…we headed out on a walking tour of Madrid. My camera has a great mode to take pictures of architecture, so they came out beautiful! (Thanks Mark!) Enjoy!
The bear and the cherry tree are the City’s symbol. It is found all over Madrid but this was a statue near the entrance to Puerto del Sol.
Fountain in Puerto del Sol. This is where many people in Madrid will meet up before getting coffee or dinner.
This is the main building facing Puerto del Sol. At the top, there is a clock. On New Year’s Eve, everyone in Spain watches that clock to turn midnight! They say this area is the equivalent of our Times Square! I also learned that it is tradition for everyone in Spain to eat twelve grapes on New Years Eve.
Kilometro 0-0 is located in Puerto del Sol. This marks the “center” of Spain. All mileage for roads in Spain begin from this point!
A lot of the buildings in Madrid had rounded corners. This is a building on Gran Via, the equivalent of their Broadway.
Plaza de Espana.
This building that looks like a castle happens to be their post office…
La Plaza Mayor!
Our hotel was right near the Atocha train station. This is where the 2004 Madrid bombings happened. Nearby was the memorial for the bombings. From the outside it looks like a plain cylinder, but the inside is filled with the names of the people killed in the terror attack and messages of condolences sent from all over the world. I unfortunately did not have time to go inside but here is a shot I snapped of the memorial from the bus.
The Atocha train station.
The train station has a tropical forest in the middle of it with a more humid environment. We ventured in it there to check it out, very unique and cool.
These pictures were taken from the top of Corte Ingles (a 9 story department store in downtown Madrid) which is said to have one of the best views of the City! I must say I agree!!
Unfortunately, it was cloudy weather in Madrid and very windy for our walking tour. Although it was high 40’s that day, many people in Madrid were wearing large winter jackets that we would wear in the snow! Even the police officers had scarves covering part of their face and thick gloves on! The weather was certainly better than the negative degrees we’ve been experiencing in New England but I wish the sun could have come out for a few of my pictures!!
I could write a lot more about all the places, buildings and sites, but I think most of the pictures speak for themselves. Even though it was my second time to Madrid, the beautiful buildings and Plaza’s never cease to amaze me! Definitely a great city!! Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Madrid!!
On Monday morning we landed in Madrid, Spain (8:30am- Spain time, 2:30am-American time). I was exhausted…especially after barely getting any sleep the night before leaving, and then getting close to none on the plane! Kayla and I (my roommate in Spain and friend from St. A’s) made it through customs easily, but had some trouble finding the baggage claim. Turns out you have to take a mini-metro that runs in the airport to get there…who knew!? We also had to take a shuttle bus to the opposite side of the airport to meet the study abroad directors. This whole process took us almost 2 hours!! The Madrid airport is huge!! But we finally met the directors and boarded the bus to the hotel in downtown Madrid!
This is a picture of our plane flying into the sunrise over Portugal.
After arriving in the hotel, Kayla and I crashed for a whopping 3-hour siesta! After resting a bit, we were hungry and ready to explore! Here’s a taste of what we experienced on our first night in Spain.
Our hotel room!
View from hotel window!
Beautiful building across the street from our hotel!
Of course we had to try some Spanish food! This restaurant was close by the hotel and we went with some new friends from our program!
Spanish omelet for dinner! (Eggs, potatoes and peppers) Very popular here…they eat it for both breakfast and dinner!
After a late meal, we went back to the hotel to go to bed. It was a long and chaotic day (to say the least) but it has only gotten better from there! I am now in Seville in my host family’s apartment! (That is why I can finally post: good wifi!) Stayed tuned for more posts about Orientation, our next day touring Madrid, and then our trip to Toledo on Wednesday. Beautiful pictures to come!! I will try to post again tonight!
Much love! xoxo
Even though I am all packed, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am leaving for Spain tomorrow!! I feel like for the past 5 months all I’ve done is talk about this trip and it’s finally here!! I will admit, I am nervous but also very excited!! I want to thank all my family and friends for being so supportive and helpful!
Now you might be wondering how I packed my life into a suitcase for 3 months! I’m wondering the same thing actually…shout-out to my awesome Mom for being such a huge help!! Basically, I broke it down to my favorite, most versatile clothing items, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! Here’s a peek at my packing process over the last couple of days!
(I took over the dining room table with everything I wanted to bring)
Miraculously, it all fit into my suitcase…surprisingly! (Again, thanks Mom!)
And here’s a picture of the final product! My suitcase (weighing in at only 43 pounds) my carry-on, and my purse!
Also hidden deep in my suitcase is a gift for my host family! They recommended you bring something from where you live, so I purchased a jar of Peach/Raspberry Jam from Indian Head Farm! I hope my host Mom likes it!!
Now all I can do is pray for safe and stress-free travels! I should arrive in Madrid Monday morning, where I will be picked up and taken to the hotel by the study abroad program! They have a week-long Orientation planned for us in Madrid, Toledo and then Seville! I can’t believe it’s really happening!!
For more details on my packing process, check out my post on ISA’s website where I am a student blogger!
Stay tuned for my next post about Orientation!! xoxo
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page” -St. Augustine
Study abroad is always wanted to do. It’s the perfect time in my life to pack up all my things and go live in a country for a couple of months. When in my life will I have the chance to do that again? Of course, I love my family and friends at home, but there is nothing truly tying me down here yet. No job, no husband, no kids. This might be the only chance I have to go out on my own and explore the world!
Secondly, I traveled to Madrid, Spain when I was a sophomore in high school and fell in love with the country and culture! I decided then that I was meant to travel! This is my chance to go back to Spain, and also explore new countries as well!
Lastly, I think that this type of experience will be good for my personal development. This semester is going to challenge me and it certainly will take me out of my comfort zone (which I’m always comfortably in). It’s such an intimidating thing, to drastically change your life for 3 1/2 months in a new country…so of course I’m nervous! Although I’m predicting there will be a lot of frustration, tears and many games of charades trying to communicate with my host family…I am positive I will come out of this experience an even better person.
I’m ready for some breathtaking views, new friends, different food, many crazy adventures…and most importantly, the trip of a lifetime!
I hope you will follow me along my journey and read some of my posts! xo