So, I left my last blog post off after my time in Granada and Cordoba with IES Abroad ended. The very next morning, a friend from my program and I took a bus to Madrid to begin the next leg of our break in Spain.
Also, I just have to note that this bus was so nice. And it cost me only 20 euro for a 5-hour trip! It was even fully equipped with free wifi and personal TVs where I got to watch whatever movies and shows I wanted. I’m not used to this kind of luxury while traveling in the US, let alone Morocco, so it was probably about the smoothest bus ride I’ve ever had.
Once we got to Madrid and started our day off on foot with nothing but a pocket map and only a vague idea of what there was to do and see. Just that afternoon, though, we managed to stumble upon a good chunk of the major sites. Here were some of my favorites:
La Plaza Mayor, the most famous of the many plazas in Madrid where you can sit out and enjoy the sunshine.
El Palacio Real, otherwise known as the Royal Palace, surrounded by some beautiful gardens.
And Mercado San Miguel, which is a market with just about everything from fresh seafood like this, to juice, paella, and even a mozzarella bar!
I even managed to get a great view of Gran Via, the main shopping street, at dusk from the top of a mall food court.
It was definitely a first day well spent. To end the evening, we went to El Tigre, which is apparently the Tapas bar for college students on a budget in Madrid. For the price of a drink, which is about 2 or 3 euro, you get massive plates of croquetas, patatas bravas, and tortillas españolas. It was so crowded because of the soccer game playing, we had to stand at our table to eat. How Spanish.
The next morning, my friend headed out to spend the rest of her break in Italy, so I was left to explore the city on my own. I’ve done a lot of traveling to places alone, but not so much in terms of touring by myself, so it was slightly daunting at first. I found though, that I really enjoyed going my own pace and evolving my schedule to how I was feeling. So, for the next two days I decided to take it easy. I spent a lot of time in El Retiro park, which I would have to say is one of my all-time favorite spots. The weather, which was 70 and sunny, couldn’t have been more perfect.
The Crystal Palace in El Retiro
For lunch, I usually opted for the classic Spanish ham sandwich, known as jamón ibérico. And spent the rest of afternoon visiting museums like El Prado and La Reina Sofia, where Picasso’s Guernica is on display.
And at sunset, I enjoyed the views from the Temple of Debod, an ancient temple gifted to Spain by Egypt.
In just 3 days, I got to see all of the major spots in Madrid by foot. I really did end up falling in love with the city, its breathtaking sights, and the peaceful little vacation I got to spend there. By Friday, though, I was ready for my final stop: Barcelona.
This time, I got to meet up with a friend from school who was studying there, and she had our itinerary planned, which was also a nice change of pace. I was ready to take the backseat again. Again, in just 3 short days, we saw so much. I could ramble for days about all of it and post all my pictures, but I’ll spare you all and give you the highlights again.
Park Guell, and my obligatory tourist pic
Sagrada Familia, another one of Gaudi’s stunning masterpieces
And Carmel Bunkers, the best place to catch a view of the city and the sunset. Conclusion: you would have to deliberately search for a bad view in Spain. And even then you would probably still unintentionally stumble upon another perfect place to watch the sunset.
Also, out of pure respect for Spanish culture, I’ve also decided to adapt the siesta into my daily routine. Dinner at 10PM or later though? Not so sure.
It was great to get away for a while on my Spring break, but I reminded myself that I am in fact on this side of the Atlantic to study in Morocco, not Spain. So, one quick plane ride later, I landed in Rabat. And once I hopped on the crowded, chaotic bus from the airport into the city (with no wifi or free movies) I was assured I was indeed back again. As I came home and received hugs and kisses from my lovely host family, sat down for tea, and had meloui again for the first time in almost two weeks, I felt happy, at home, and ready to take on my last month abroad.
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<p>Assalamu Alaikum, Bonjour, Hello! I'm Camille and I'm currently in my second year studying Political Science and International Studies at Loyola University Chicago. I'm thrilled to be spending my semester in Rabat, Morocco and hope you all enjoy hearing about my journey! Expect bad puns and lots of pictures of food.</p>