Hola a todos!
I am, in fact, alive and well! I apologize for the delay in my first post, it has been a crazy week or so (also apologies for any typos or if this doesn’t make sense- I have been trying to write this post amidst everything that’s going on).
My first week in Spain was spent running around Madrid (quite literally since we walked 10+ miles a day) and I am now moved into my apartment in Bilbao (classes start Monday). I will be posting about Bilbao soon 🙂
Below are some pics of my adventures in the different areas of Madrid. My favorite was Segovia because it was very the most charming little town I’ve ever been to and the castle we got to visit was gorgeous!
Here is a picture from the window of our hotel room in Madrid. This is your typical street (yes cars will drive in this alley, even though it is tiny).
El Plaza Mayor (the largest plaza in Madrid) was poppin’ at around 2pm when the locals (and tourists) were having what they call “a la comida” (aka lunch) that lasts until about 3 or 4pm and is the largest meal of the day. The locals eat much later than we do in the states. This means that in Spain they eat a small dinner between 8 and 10pm and nightlife typically starts at midnight or 1am, ramps up around 2:30 or 3am and lasts until 6am (yes, you read that correctly).
Buen Ratiro Park
This was such a beautiful park! It reminded me of Central Park in NYC because there were so many different walks of life out and about and this park covered a large part of the city. Something we noticed at this park was the amount of PDA happening all of the time- it seemed to be normal to see couples getting really intimate in the grass of the park.
Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace was gorgeous and massive! I think there are around 2,000 rooms in this palace so it makes sense that they have separate rooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner and separate rooms for each person to change etc. How glamorous!
Museo Nacional de Prado
I believe this museum is the third largest in either Europe or the world with over 2,000 pieces and multiple levels to explore. We didn’t have enough time to see everything but there were a lot of cool pieces by El Greco and Raphael. Most of the collections were large paintings of either Spanish royalty or of Spanish life- there was a lot of Catholic influence on the paintings too.
Puerta del Sol
Segovia was by far my favorite place we visited. It was so beautiful and you could really get a taste of the culture of Spain by walking the streets. The architecture was amazing and the aqueduct was amazing- it is crazy to think it is still standing thousands of years after it was built by the Romans!
Toledo was very similar to Segovia except it had a large Muslim, Catholic and Jewish population all living in one small town (although there isn’t a Jewish population there any more). It was beautiful and quaint. You could get lost VERY easily in these streets because there were so many winding roads that led different directions.
Clearly pictures don’t do these places any justice- maybe one day you can visit Spain (which I highly recommend) so you can see it for yourself.
The people here are stand-offish at first but if you approach someone and give them the opportunity, they light up and are so helpful and welcoming! I have made friends with some locals and other students coming from across the U.S. and from Europe as well! It has been an eye-opening experience so far and I know I’m going to learn so much about other cultures and people while I’m here.
Stay tuned for more inside scoop on my time in the Basque Country, specifically in Bilbao!