Palacio Real

Palacio Real

On September 1, 2001, I moved to Madrid to study abroad with other students from my college in California. During four short months, I caught the travel bug and haven’t looked back. Madrid was the city where I “grew up” and started seeing the world differently. During this study abroad program, I lived with a Spanish family led by an incredible woman named Maribel. She and I have stayed in touch throughout the last twelve years.  When she offered to host us during our time in Madrid, we were thrilled to accept the offer and to stay in the same house I had lived in so many years before.

Mike and I took the bullet train from Barcelona and arrived in Madrid in a few short hours. Maribel and Antonio kindly picked us up from the train station and brought us “home”. I felt feelings of disbelief, amazement and recollection. Everything was as it was twelve years ago, except my room, which has been turned into an office. That evening, in Madrid fashion, we had a dinner with friends around 11pm. The fun evening commenced with drinks and dancing, which shows that the culture has not changed much since my college days.

The following day, Antonio, who is a long time resident of Madrid, graciously took us on a walking tour of the old city. We visited the Palacio Real, Jardines Sabatini, Teatro Real, Plaza de Visillas, and the Mercado de San Miguel. (More information about Old Madrid is available via National Geographic.)  Mike and I wanted to catch a futbol (soccer) match while we were in town, but unfortunately my favorite Real Madrid were not playing that weekend.  Instead, we ventured out to the Vicente Calderón Stadium looking for tickets to the Atletico Madrid vs. Getafe match.  We found some scalped tickets and had a great time. We cheered for the home team and they won 7-0. The fans were rowdy, the chants were loud and fun was had by all.

YIn Spain, Sundays are typically spent with family, and we enjoyed this tradition with Maribel and her family. We started off by walking through the infamous Puerta del Sol through the Plaza Mayor to El Rastro, Madrid’s well-known flea market. Scavenging around for unique and antique goods was really fun because Maribel enjoys scoping out quality items for a good price. After our walk, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at O Pazo de Lugo, a traditional Galician (northwest region) restaurant. The last item on our Madrid list was to see Pablo Picasso’s Guernika painting at the Reina Sofia museum. During my study abroad program, I took a Spanish Art class where I learned of Picasso’s symbolic intentions of portraying the pain of war through art.

Our weekend in Madrid was quick, but quality family time was nice. Catching up on life, telling stories and laughing all together was great. We really enjoyed our time together and hope it can happen more frequently.