My first two weeks of my study abroad experience here in Madrid have been nothing short of spectacular. With so much to do in such a large city, they have been fun-packed and adventurous. Although I could probably go on for hours about what I've done so far, I decided to make a list of my top ten favorites in no particular order.
1. Templo de Debod and Parque del Oeste
Conveniently, this park and famous temple is right next to my apartment. Emil and Katie (my sorority sisters that I am studying here in Madrid with), and I have ventured over there quite a bit in our short time here. The third day we were here, Emily and I went to see Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple in the middle of a beautiful park. Unfortunately, the temple is closed to the public for the time being, but it is still pretty cool from the outside! We also explored the park and found a gorgeous rose garden right in the middle. The overlook next to the temple is very popular to watch the sunset, so one night Emily, Katie, and I had a great little fruit and bocadillo picnic in the park for dinner. It is definitely going to be a weekly occurrence during our time here!
2. Tour of Madrid
Our school provided a free optional tour of Madrid to us the day after orientation, and of course we signed up! Although we had already done some of our own exploring, it was awesome to get a better understanding of the historical background of a lot of the sites we had visited. We started at the Opera metro stop, made our way to Palacio Real and Catedral de la Almudena, strolled by Calle Madrid (the smallest street in Madrid), visited Plaza Mayor and Mercado San Gines, and ended in Puerta del Sol. Puerta del Sol is one of the busiest places in Madrid. It is also home to the statue of "El Oso y el Madroño" or "The bear and the strawberry tree," which represents the dispute over the land and trees between the church and the government of Spain.
This one is pretty obvious, but the food here is absolutely amazing. I have been eating everything and anything, but mostly lots and lots of chorizo. Please check out the food section of my blog to see what I've been eating!
4. El Chapandaz
We went to the bar El Chapandaz the second night we were here, and I honestly thought it was the coolest thing. It is cave themed, and was packed with people. The popular drink there is called Leche de Pantera. It is made of milk, cinnamon, gin and rum and comes in a one liter giant glass. It was interesting to say the least! The coolest part about it was that it shot out of one of the stalactites in the ceiling at the bar into the glass. Definitely a fun place to go back to!
5. El Rastro
Every Sunday and on certain holidays in Madrid, there is a giant flea market called "El Rastro." The first Sunday we were here, we made our way over and explored the market. It had absolutely everything you could think of! There were clothes, souvenirs, antiques, electronics, jewelry and so much more. I ended up buying two dresses and a top from a little vintage clothing stand for only six euros total. What a steal! I wasn't able to go back this weekend, but I will definitely be there quite often this semester.
The first day that Emily and I went to Parque del Oeste, we noticed the cable car going over the rose garden and wanted to look into riding it across the city. About a week later, Emily, Katie and I did just that! El Teleférico de Madrid is basically a giant cable car that stretches from one park to another, and gives you a beautifully scenic view of the city. For only six euros we rode it both ways and took in the scenery. There is also supposed to be a voice over with some information about Madrid but for some reason our cart wasn't working and it just played elevator music the whole time. It was so cool to see Madrid from above, and gave a much better perspective of how big our home for the next few months really is! The park on the other side was also very pretty so we walked around it for a little bit before heading back.
7. Buen Retiro Park
Probably my favorite thing that we have done so far was visit Buen Retiro Park. This gorgeous park has so much to do and see. It's massive, so we were unable to see all of it, but got to take one of the row boats out on the lake which was a blast. On the weekends, it is only eight euros to rent a boat for 45 minutes. You can fit up to four people in the boat, so it is very reasonably priced! During the week, the prices are even better, at only six euros. Paddling on the lake was so relaxing and a great way to spend the afternoon. It also helped with my tan!
Universidad Pontificia Comillas Madrid ICADE, is the name of the school I am attending while I am here in Madrid. It is a well-known Spanish business school with a large international exchange program. Even after just a few classes, I love my professors and the classes that I am in this semester. I am taking four classes: Spanish, Spanish History and Culture through Visual Arts, Consumer Behavior, and Product Policy and Brand Management. I am most excited about my Spanish class, because I am trying to become fluent while I am here. I studied Spanish for six years in middle school and high school, but have not been able to take it while in college yet. Living with my two Spanish roommates is also helping, but it will be nice to have a refresher with this class!
9. Mercado San Miguel
This food market is full of delicious Spanish cuisine. I've gone twice, but definitely want to go back to try everything. My favorite was the bocadillo I had while I was there. You can read about what I've gotten there here.
10. Palacio Real
Last but not least, El Palacio Real is right up the street from my apartment, and it is beautiful. I haven't gotten the chance to go inside yet, but even from the outside it is one of my favorite places to go to visit and walk by. The different museums and historical sites in Madrid have great offers for free or reduced admission for students at certain times.
I've been able to pack quite a bit in these past two weeks, but I definitely have a lot to still cover! Can't wait to share what else I do!