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Madrid, Spain



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Madrid, Spain




Statues on our way to the Royal Palace


Brief Overview: 3 days, approximately $450-500 including meals and transportation, 4 landmarks/museums visited.


As part of my studying abroad program, I got to stay in Madrid for about 3 ½ days. Considering it was part of the program cost, I am honestly not sure how much the entire visit cost, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they spent approximately $350-400 per person for hotel, one meal and all the museums we visited, plus transportation from the airport, to Escorial and Toledo, and transport down to Granada.


Most of our flights arrived early Monday morning at the Madrid Barajas Airport, and we were all to our hotel by early afternoon. The hotel, Hotel Moderno, was small and quaint, situated less than a 5 minute walk from Plaza de Sol, the very heart of Madrid and home to “kilometer 0”. As we all discovered, the hotel is impossible to get to directly by car. A vehicle has to drop you have a few blocks away and then sends you walking for a bit before actually arriving at the hotel.


After the mass chaos of getting everyone their room keys and helping them use the tiny elevators to whichever floor they needed to go to, we all head out on a mad search for some food! The group I headed out with didn’t walk far before deciding to eat at a small restaurant called “Café y Te”. The food was good and it was all at a decent price—around $8 for a big chicken sandwich and a bottle of water. After finally filling our starving bellies that had essentially skipped two meals (airplane food isn’t always that great, and a single pastry for breakfast just simply doesn’t do it!), we all headed back to the hotel to regroup and plan our next move….sleep. Yep, international travel is a pain when it comes to the wonders of jet lag. We all got a good couple hours rest before getting up to head out for a dinner that the program had planned for us. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name nor location of this restaurant, but we were able to sample tons of different food…including fried squid. Sorry, I just couldn’t try it…could not get this tiny squid with tentacles and all into my mouth *shudders*


After dinner, several groups headed out for a good time, while many of us headed back to the hotel to crash before another long day the next morning. Thankfully, a delicious breakfast was included in the hotel cost and we all stocked up on plenty of food to save money for later in the day. After breakfast, we headed to El Prado Museum. Divided into about 3 groups of 20 each, we got tour guides and set out to see the Prado. Our guide concentrated on showing us the works of Goya, Picasso and Greco. Although I’m not much of a history buff, seeing the Prado and all the magnificent artwork was incredible, but it was just the tip of the magnificent iceberg that is Madrid.




Just one of the many interesting building you pass in Madrid


After finding lunch at a neat Italian restaurant with some delicious chicken and rice near the Prado (approximately $12 for a 3 course meal, wine included), we met back at the hotel to see the Royal Palace. Unable to take pictures inside the Royal Palace, we were able to take in more fully the magnificence of the frescoes on every ceiling, the luscious tapestries over every window, the artwork that filled the walls and the magnificent furnishings that it’s amazing people once used on a daily basis! Of course, the outside decor of the palace was no exception either, especially with its spectacular view.




Building opposite the royal palace that no one could figure out what it was




The Royal Palace from the outside


For dinner on the second night, I discovered one of the good/bad things about becoming accustomed to Spaniards eating habits—skipping dinner! Yes, I saved some cash by not eating this night after having ate an enormous breakfast and three course lunch, even the amount of walking could not make me eat any more food.


Wednesday and Thursday we headed outside of Madrid to visit nearby monuments and cities: El Escorial and Toledo. As a monastery, El Escorial also prohibited taking pictures of the interior, but was still absolutely gorgeous! I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of El Escorial as we had a very entertaining guide who liked to make a lot of jokes (and hit on the ladies a little too). El Escorial has a library which is second only to the library in the Vatican City, and it also has “the secret room”. In the secret room, two people can stand in opposite corners of the room and talk into the corners without anyone else but them hearing what they say. It’s also home to a giant ‘basilica’ (Catholic Church), that the king had rooms of his own built in, just off the sanctuary so he could hear the service without having to get out of his room!




Biblical kings referenced at El Escorial


And lastly, we came upon Toledo. This magnificent city is by far my favorite city in Spain so far (I’ve only visited three though, so it might change…). Our bus that took us to Toledo first stopped on a mountain side to give us a breathtaking view of the city below in a valley, surrounded by mountains and encompassed on almost all sides by a river. Sadly, the day was foggy and wet, but the sight was still breathtaking. Toledo is literally a labyrinth of small streets that cars still attempt to drive on. A gorgeous city, it is architecturally unique by the fact that it was built by three different groups of people: the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. All three played a part in the history of Toledo, making it well worth going on a guided tour of the city to hear about the various buildings and the overall history. Lastly, Toledo is home to a famous painting by Greco: The Burial of Count Orgaz. The painting was specifically commissioned to be painted above the tomb of Orgaz and is a very interesting painting to study.




Imagine this...as the sun is setting...




The basilica of Toledo (just wait til you see the inside!)




Not a mosque, but a church, a Jewish church I believe.


In Toledo, we headed to lunch at a small restaurant where we could again get a three course meal for just over $12. With an amazingly delicious soup, the best chicken you will ever have in the world, and some excellent cake to finish it off, the restaurant El Fin was well worth the visit.

After Toledo, we all climbed back on the bus for our three hour drive to Granada, which is my home for the next several months, and also worthy of a review of it’s own.

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I hate that I can not see the pics. Likly my computers security. I saw that this was a studying abroad program but what is your focus?


You need to eat the fried squid trust me you will love it. (though I would try it at a place you know first).


It sounds like you had a wonderful trip, I will try to see the pics when i get home.

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My focus is to learn Spanish while I'm here since I am majoring in English Education with a minor in Spanish and TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages). And what better way to learn Spanish than to live in Spain for a semester, right?


As for the pics, I posted a thread on the main board with a link to my photobucket sight where you should be able to see all of the pics.

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TESOL is for any age, although most of the material I have learned so far concentrates on the younger generations, which i then change to fit my higschoolers I plan on teaching and even a bit more for college ages :)

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