This past weekend I went to Toledo and Madrid with my program. I have already been to Madrid and knew I loved it, but was really surprised at how much I loved Toledo too! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Toledo is a gorgeous little town that has kept all of its ancient charm despite being a tourist attraction. We started out by seeing all of the windmills that inspired Don Quixote. I really can’t say enough about all of the amazing views here…every new place I go I like more and more! There are so many mountains and blue skies, it’s all just so beautiful!! After that we walked around the city a bit and saw the cathedral, monastery and synagogue. It is really rare to find a synagogue in Spain because they were all destroyed during the Reconquista. In fact there are only three in the entire country and two of them are in Toledo.
After Toledo we headed to Madrid which is about an hour or so drive. Our hotel was literally right beside el Palacio Real which was perfect for everything we wanted to do. The very first thing being walking to Puerta del Sol and eating the most delicious dinner everrrr. It was a place that had a menu del dia and all you did was pay a flat price and got to choose three courses. I was in heaven, naturally.
We actually didn’t have that much free time in Madrid because together as a group we had tours scheduled at el Museo Prado, la Reina Sofia and el Palacio Real. On our only free time all day Saturday we went to el Parque Retiro which is my FAVORITE park in the entire world, and the reason I almost studied abroad in Madrid instead of Granada. The last time I was there with my sisters we for some reason didn’t go out on the row boats on the lake in the middle of the park, so I was excited to do that this time around. It was a group of six of us and we had so much fun trying to navigate in this huge lake. We must have accidentally ran into at least three couples at a crucially romantic moment, and my other friends never even got their boat ten feet away from the dock.
And then comes a big high light of the trip: We had to meet up with our group to head to the Museums, which I was excited to see el Prado, but had already been to Reina Sofia and was not that impressed. So after the Prado (which is home Velazquez’s Las Meninas) I was less than excited to head to Reina Sofia which is a modern art museum and although Picasso is my favorite artist and La Guernica is one of my favorite paintings, I didn’t really like seeing the rest the first time I had been there. But who was casually sitting outside the museum on the steps but Tyra Banks herself. Admittedly not one of my favorite celebs but it was still really exciting to see her and my friends even went up and talked to her. For the record she is very nice :-)
We then totally got Mcdonald’s like any good American tourist, but I am not at all ashamed because McDonald’s in Europe are so much nicer than in America. The one big difference I notice between the way Americans and Europeans eat is that we Americans love our condiments. Everyday that my host mom serves us bread, I wish we had butter. I can’t even eat eggs without ketchup and I wouldn’t even consider myself a condiment lover. The girl from Belgium who I live with thinks me and my American roommate are nuts at the dinner table.
That’s pretty much it for now! I am just getting ready this week for the big fall break trip that my three girlfriends and I have planned for next week. We’ll be hitting Pisa, Florence and Rome, Italy and then ending the ten-day trip in Prague! I can’t wait!