¡Vamos al Capital!

I have finished my third week in Spain and am officially halfway done with the program here. Which means midterms! But at week three I am feeling much more comfortable living in a foreign country where I need half of what is being said to me repeated three times. ¡No pasa nada! I feel less nervous about asking for help or having someone slow down to talk to me. Instead of slightly dreading difficult conversations, I have started looking forward to the challenge and the learning experience they provide. When I tell people I am a student here for the summer to learn Spanish they are often sympathetic and I have finally “perfected” how to order food and drinks, although gaining the attention of the waiter with a well-placed “PERDON” remains a bit of a mystery.

This past weekend I visited Madrid, the capitol of Spain. I managed the public transportation system much better this trip, than when coming from the airport the first time. I had a lot to pack into one weekend, and tried to fit in as many activities as possible. I started with a lot of art, and visited the Prado and the Reina Sofia. I saw Pablo Picasso’s famous “Guernica”; the painting was much bigger than I had been expecting, along with some interesting Dali creations, the Last Supper, and the Garden of Earthly Delights. I visited el Palacio, which is apparently bigger than Buckingham Palace, and the beautiful gardens next to it.

View of the Palace

We also visited Temple de Debod, an Egyptian temple that was brought from Egypt and reassembled in Madrid for its preservation.

My roommates and I walked around some of the neighborhoods within the city, including Malasaña and La Latina. We checked out different vintage shops and the markets and stands that took up every corner. We also made it a priority to eat a lot of incredible food. We ate outside at the Plaza in addition to an indoor market that had tapas ranging from olive kabobs to giant macaroons to burrata with fig and Iberian ham.


El Mercado San Miguel y un ejemplo de los tapas

I tried Paella, a traditional Spanish dish with rice, vegetables, and seafood, for the first time, and although I had not been expecting to like it that much, I thought it was delicious. I also ate a meal at Botin, which is known as the oldest operating restaurant in the world. It was an incredible building, with the tables on different levels down the stairs in small brick-laid rooms. We spent some time at a rooftop bar, Azotea del Circulo, which had amazing views overlooking the entire city.


Rooftop Bar

I loved Madrid, in the sense that there was so much to experience and observe. However, almost everyone spoke English, and when I would speak in Spanish they would almost always respond in English, even if I continued to use Spanish. I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about that, but it made me think studying in Salamanca, which is much smaller than Madrid was a good decision, since less locals speak English or are inclined to do so.