In January of 2006, my senior year of college, I ventured on my last trip as a student. This particular year I chose to go to the Endicott campus in Madrid, Spain. There, we learned about the Spanish culture and language. Although our “home base” was in Madrid, we made several day trips which included Toledo, El Escorial, and Valley of the Fallen.
Unfortunately this trip’s journal was severely lacking in entries. I managed to only write about my first day there. This post will be picture heavy with a few words interjected.
The first few pictures are the view from our hostel on Gran Via near the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. How sick is this view?! I loved waking up every morning.
While staying in Madrid we took a guide bus to explore the city. We passed by the post office, the statue of Neptune, the house of America, Independence Plaza, Puerta del Sol, the royal palace, Madrid park and so much more!
The above pictures is the stadium where Real Madrid plays. It was HUGE! Easily could have been the size of University of Michigan’s stadium.
On our first trip out of Madrid, we went to the town of Segovia. The weather obviously wasn’t the best, but just being in the Spanish countryside was amazing. We visited the Roman aqueducts as well as Alcazar castle which was the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle.
The next group of pictures that I seem to have are from our day in Toledo. The details are extremely fuzzy so I will just leave it at that. The gentleman in the third photo is Paco, the professor from Endicott Madrid that took us around on our day trips. He was the best, extremely engaging and just overall fun to be traveling with.
Aside from the pictured outings, one day trip that really stood out was visiting the Valley of the Fallen. The statue was built to commemorate those that fought and died during the Spanish Civil War. It was conceived by Francisco Franco and became his burial site after his death in 1975. The site was magnificent to see, but the history is just as compelling.
The last few pictures I have to show are of our hostel in Madrid. It was a 9-floor building and our rooms were on the top, in the Hostel Helena. The last picture there? Yep, that was my room. Sweet!
Of course, the trip wasn’t all about learning the culture of Spain. We also experienced the food! I have to tell you, I loved the idea of having breakfast in the morning, large lunch around 2PM, (siesta!), and then traveling from restaurant to restaurant starting at 8 or 9 at night. We would have mushrooms and sangria at one place, croquettes and wine at another and then end up having churros con chocolate at a hole in the wall restaurant. My favorite though was visiting Botin, the oldest restaurant in the WORLD. We dined on half pig and pretty much everything else on the menu. We also visited the wine cellar, and I swear to you, I never wanted to leave.
We also had the chance to shop at a nearby market and purchase the ingredients needed to make paella. The professor on our trip was living in Madrid and he invited us all to his apartment to help prepare it. It took about 2 hours to make so we made it an enjoyable evening of cooking and drinking wine. We were able to try various types of paella throughout the trip but nothing came close to homemade.
It’s hard to really put each of my international trips in to order of which one was my favorite. They all had their defining characteristics, and I think it’s safe to say that with Madrid, it was definitely the food and the culture of how they consume their meals. I would have a “progressive” dinner every night if I could.
Have you visited Spain? Eaten paella? (Side note: so good!)