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Two full weekends in Madrid

April 18, 2016

I’ve spent the last two weekends in Madrid enjoying the beautiful weather and long days before two consecutive weekends of travel – I head off this weekend to Dublin with a good family friend and then to Oslo with a Bowdoin friend the following weekend! It’s crazy to think that I have exactly a month until I depart, so I’m doing my best to make the most of every remaining moment abroad.

Two weeks ago, my friend Clara came to Madrid and I was able to show her around to a few of my favorite places as well as explore some new ones. We ate churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, walked around Sol and paid a visit to the Gourmet Experience on the top of the Callao Corte Inglés, and even made it to a Real Madrid game!

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Clara and I from our seats at the stadium.

The game itself was a surprisingly calm event. The two of us have only ever attended major sporting events in the USA, most of which are rowdy, beer-dependent events with everyone standing up and shouting the majority of the game. Maybe Real Madrid wasn’t playing a great team, so people didn’t care that much about the match, but it was usually quite silent! The only frustrated man I saw the whole time was sitting three seats down from us complaining about the woman in front of him who kept standing up to take pictures of the stadium. I don’t even think I saw a single person drinking a beer – I’m not sure if they even sell beer in the stadium!

Clara and I also wandered through many of the upscale food markets, I can now say I’ve walked through Mercado de San Miguel, Platea, Mercado de San Ildefonso, and Mercado de San Antón (though I’ve only bought food at one of them!). For a city that seems so focused on their traditional, smoky bars and restaurants, there are quite a number of upscale food markets around.

Clara and I also were invited to my host family’s apartment for a large gathering they hosted to welcome a past student of theirs and his boyfriend (maybe fiancée?) back to Madrid. It was QUITE the affair with a massive spread of food and possibly the most delicious, mousse-like, three-layered chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted.

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The unbelievable spread of food that Josefina had prepared for everyone.

This past week and weekend have been a bit more laid back as I’ve spent a decent amount of time outlining papers and getting ahead on work before my two weekends of travel. I think I was challenged by one of my professors to write my final art history paper in Spanish (the whole class is in English), so I’ve got a decent bit of work ahead of me to do my best to write a truly academic paper in Spanish! I think I might submit an outline in English along with the paper in Spanish just as my writing is not nearly as put together or eloquent in Spanish.

I’m very excited to say that I’ve found two new restaurants that I will definitely be visiting a few times before I leave. One is more of a health food restaurant – they have a menu of the day with big salads (you choose the ingredients) and fresh juices (juice bar, juice bar, juice bar!). I’ve been there three times in the last 5 days and I’ve never felt so good about a lunch here!

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Romaine, spinach, egg, soft cheese, mozzarella, mushrooms, and sprouts topped of with pesto and accompanied by a green juice!

I’ve found another restaurant, not as healthy as the first sadly, that I was tipped off to by one of my professors (Gracias Beatriz! Tienes las mejores sugerencias!). For some reason, Plaza de España always smells like Chinese food. I’ve learned now that there’s a tiny Chinese restaurant below Plaza de España right next to the underground public parking lot. It’s impossible to accidentally come upon; everyone there knows it’s there and goes for a reason. The reason is simply that they have absolutely delicious Chinese food, and it’s very, very inexpensive. I’m even going back again tomorrow for lunch!

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Some of the foods my friend Brennan and I shared.

Overall, I’ve had a pretty relaxing two weeks, but I’m excited to be traveling again in a few days! I’m crossing my fingers for nice weather in Dublin, as it’s usually quite unpredictable there, but very excited to then see the vast amounts of daylight that Oslo has at the end of April!

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