From the moment I knew I was actually going to get to study abroad, I started planning my spring break trip. Lori and I brainstormed a list of a few countries and narrowed them down to cities. Since the UK splits their term differently than universities in the States, we had nearly an entire month off to explore as much as possible. We took advantage of this and booked a 19-day, 6-city adventure, starting with Madrid.
The night before melded into our first travel day, as we stayed up in order to catch a cab at 2 AM to catch our 6 o’clock flight. When we landed in Madrid, the brutality of a nearly 48-hour day kicked us in the face. We took it easy, meandering around the city center and the neighborhood our AirBnb was in, and planned the rest of our stay.
Our second day we planned to walk a bit further, visiting different monuments and gardens on the agenda. Our first stop was Templo de Debod, a gorgeous site overlooking the eastern part of the city. By early evening, we managed to walk to the opposite side of town to visit la Reina Sofia National Museum, which houses one of my favorite Picasso paintings, La Guernica. This was a particularly special stop for me because I studied this painting my senior year of high school. While Picasso’s style isn’t to everyone’s particular taste, the painting and the story behind it is heartbreaking and emotional. I fully encourage you to do some research if you’re unaware of the massacre of Guernica (or feel free to shoot me message/comment).
Our next day was spent at another museum, el Prado. Despite the elaborate works of art from which the building derives its’ sole purpose, my favorite thing was seeing other artists painting their interpretations of famous works live. I actually got told off by a security guard for taking a picture of a man (she didn’t seem to get I didn’t care too much for the priceless frame on the wall). We ended our day near Puerta del Sol, a main square of Madrid, near the shopping district and grabbed gelato across from our flat before heading in for the night.
Detour: Let me just say, the best gelato in the entire world is in Madrid. A bold claim to make, I know, but after being to quite a few gelaterias across the world, nothing comes close to Sani Sapori. It was so good, Lori and I went multiple times a day for the duration of our trip in Madrid because we have absolutely no shame. When in Europe, right?
Our final day we took our first of many bus tours. If you’re planning a trip (anyway, not just to Madrid), I highly recommend taking a bus tour (but my first recommendation is a walking tour, if you’re able-bodied). We saw many of the sites we had already seen on previous days, but we saw loads of new places and learned much more than we ever could have if we had done it on our own. In the evening we walked to Buen Retiro Park. As we were walking through, we came across a small lake where you could rent a paddle boat for a few Euro. While you might think both Lori and I have extensive boating experience, you’d be wrong. Despite our slight hesitation, we recited our mantra “when in Europe” once again, and headed out onto the water. There were only a few minor collisions before we (finally) got the hang of it and were rewarded with a view of the sunset from our little boat.
The next morning we headed to Barcelona, which will be the next post. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!