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Trip to Madrid


In the video above, I briefly interviewed our lovely tour guide Ines who showed us around the city. I purposely added no subtitles to the clip so I could rewatch it in the future and check my Spanish comprehension. Ines briefly describes what we did and the places we visited.

I had the incredible opportunity of taking a trip to Madrid with my friend Water, who is also an exchange student here in Spain. This being his last week, I’m glad to have gotten to do this trip with him as opposed to having done it by myself. Madrid is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited — or rather — revisited. Having been to Madrid once more than six years ago, I was surprised by how little I remembered; that being said, the little idea I did have of Madrid really allowed me to explore the city with few preconceptions.

Walter and I left for Madrid on a Friday morning. The bus ride from Badajoz to Madrid lasts around six hours, so we didn’t reach Madrid until around 3pm. The long duration of the bus ride (and the two brief stops) gave us time not only to sleep, but to also buy chuches (“snacks”). When we reached Madrid in the afternoon, we were greeted by Inés, one of the sweet local staff of my program. Our program director Beatriz had informed us that we would be greeted by Ines, so this came as no surprise to us.

The food in Madrid was absolutely exquisite, especially the desserts!

Upon arriving at the hotel, I was met with a rather unusual incident. Given I was simply travelling within Spain, I didn’t think it necessary to take my passport with me (so I took just my passport card). The director of the hotel sternly refused to let me stay at the hotel because by law, all persons who are not members of the European Union must have the documentation with which they arrived in the country so they can stay in a hotel. Luckily, my program director Beatriz was able to talk to the hotel and work a solution by showing them the needed paperwork. I was in a rather confused state of mind, but I am so thankful to Beatriz. It proved to be a rather strong teaching moment; I’ll be sure to have my passport everywhere I go now.

After leaving the hotel, Inés took us to VIPS, a local chain restaurant in Madrid. I was pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian options on the menu, and there was even a vegan burger! Imagine my surprise upon seeing vegan items in the menu after living in a place for two months where vegetarianism and veganism don’t exist! Leaving the restaurant, we went to El Museo del Prado, and I was so excited to see Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez after having heavily studied the piece in my AP Spanish class back home, but also after having received a lecture on the piece by my literature teacher in Badajoz. Spending much of the evening in the museum, we left to eat dinner at a restaurant called Tago Mago. The food was absolutely delicious, and I really enjoyed my berejena (“eggplant appetizer”), canelón de verduras entree, and mango pancake dessert. We soon retired to our hotel afterwards, being exhausted from the day’s travels. On the way back, we even stopped in front of the building featured in Money Heist, and [spoiler alert] I could not believe I was standing in front of the window where Nairobi is “shot” in the show (they recreated the facade to shoot).

Saturday started bright and early as we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. The majority of our morning was spent at El Palacio Real, as we enjoyed a tour of the beautiful palace. The palace is located across the beautiful Catedral de La Almudena, who is the patron saint of Madrid. Much of our day, however, was spent walking through the city. We explored Gran Via, which is a long and wide road full of theaters, cinemas, and stores, and we ended the day in el Parque Retiro. In the park, I got my caricature portrait drawn by a lovely man from Peru. Dinner was really fun because I got to eat a Thai curry and rice after SO long! I didn’t realize how much I missed the oriental options available in California after living in Badajoz for so long, so all the different options present were such a treat.

The second picture in the second row is absolutely my favorite picture because that very building is featured in Money Heist as the National Mint of Spain. Here I am [spoiler] standing in front of the window where Nairobi was “shot” and killed.

Sunday morning started again with breakfast at the hotel, and the only thing on our agenda today was visiting the Reina Sofia museum. We go to see Guernica by Pablo Picasso, and the painting did not disappoint. After exploring the museum, Inés took us to La Plaza Mayor, where we bought bocadillos (sandwiches) for lunch. We ate them on a staircase near La Plaza Mayor before heading back to the bus station using the metro. I even got a Starbucks in Madrid because at this point in my trip, I didn’t realize how much I craved something that reminded me of home.

It was such an interesting experience visiting Madrid not only because I explored the city as a tourist, but also because I returned to this city to find that my level of Spanish comprehension has shot up considerably. The accent in Madrid was so easy to understand compared to the extremeño accent of my province. It was also so unbelievable that I had travelled to Badajoz from Madrid through that exact same bus station, so there really was a sense of deja vu in knowing 8 weeks had passed by so quickly. I absolutely fell in love with the city, and a huge thank you to Beatriz and Inés for helping us through the trip.

Semester in Spain
Vismaya Gopalan