Last week was our first travel week and it was amazing! With a whole week off from classes, we were able to set off to explore Europe. I went to four different cities: Bern and Geneva in Switzerland, and Toledo and Madrid in Spain. The best part about my trip was that each city had it’s own very distinct personality. Although I would love to tell you about each of them individually, that could probably fill a whole book. Instead I will tell you about the city that stole my heart. If you are anything like me, a visit to Madrid is a must!
Do you love big cities, lots of people and churros con chocolate (just trust me on this one)? If so, then Madrid is the city for you! I was shocked when I got there and saw how busy it was, there were people and cars everywhere. The best way that I can describe Madrid is that it is like New York with a Spanish twist. Since New York happens to be my favorite city in the U.S., I felt right at home! The great thing about Madrid is that it had all the elements of New York that I love like the vibe, the energy, and the people. On the other hand, it didn’t have some New York Cities less favorable attributes, for example Madrid was shockingly clean! Finally there were some characteristics that are just uniquely Spain, like the culture and to food!
What are some things not be missed in this amazing city? One of my favorite parts was touring the Royal Palace of Madrid. Although the royal family does not actually live there anymore, it is still used for ceremonies and is open to the public. All of the rooms are ornately decorated and filled with amazing art. Just a warning, since this is probably the #1 tourist attraction in Madrid, get there around ten minutes before it opens in the morning if you don’t want to wait in line all day!
The next must see is a professional futbol game. All over Europe people take futbol (what we in America call soccer) very seriously! Just about everyone that you ask has a favorite team and players are at the same level of fame that A-list movie stars are in the U.S. While we were in town the Real Madrid played the Racing de Santander at home and we were able to get tickets last minute. Even though I had never seen a professional soccer game before, this was still an amazing experience! The crowd was so enthusiastic and the game was really exciting. Real Madrid killed the other team 4-0 but it was fun getting to see 4 goals! Going to a professional game was definitely worth experiencing while in Europe and (from what I’m told) Real Madrid is one of the best teams around!
The next “must see” is actually a “must eat” and that is the food! Spanish food is all about the ocean, so if you like seafood you will love it there. The big dish to try is paella, which is rice with different kinds of seafood and spices mixed in. My personal favorite food however is something that I already mentioned but it deserves much more attention than a passing comment. That amazing food is churros con chocolate! You can order this just about everywhere we went in Spain and what they give you is two churros, which are these Spanish doughnut-like things, and hot chocolate to dip them in. I quickly learned that European hot chocolate is not like the stuff we drink back home. Here it really thick and literally tastes like melted chocolate, it is amazing! The best part is that in Spain churros con chocolate is a perfectly acceptable breakfast or snack… or both!
The last recommendation that I have for Madrid is an easy one, just walk around! One of the most incredible things was when we were just walking down the streets around ten o’clock one night and there are people everywhere! People were just hanging out, talking, and enjoying the beautiful city. There were also street performers and artists everywhere. We stood and watched one artist who panted these detailed pictures on tiles by hand (as in no brushes or anything), while holding conversations with the crowd watching him. Each 4inx 4in tile took him about two minutes. It was amazing how fast his hands moved and the intricate pictures that he created! Walking around we saw everything from magicians to musicians to people in costumes that were just bazaar. So if you don’t take any of the rest of my advice, just explore the streets of downtown Madrid to get a taste of why it is my favorite city that I have ever been to!
After that amazing week I can’t wait to travel more and share my experiences here!
Until then, ciao!