Exploring Europe

Madrid

A semester in Spain would not be complete without a trip to Madrid. Fortunate for us, our program arranged a weekend trip to the capital of Spain. Originally I was not going to attend, but last minute I decided I could not miss the opportunity. I packed my bags the night before, and less than twelve hours later I was on my way to Madrid.

Everyone on the Business and Culture program had high hopes for this trip. All of our days trips up to this point- Tossa Del Mar, Sitges, Torres, and Girona- had all been beyond perfect getaways from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. And for the most part, our expectations were met.

Within an hour of arriving in Madrid, we were booked solid. We had a walking tour of the old city center, and a museum tour of the Prado. Despite our exhaustion from going out the night before in Barcelona, Bridget and I were quite pleased that for once we did not have to do all of the booking, planning, and scheduling ourselves.

After an exhausting first day of wondering the city, my nine girlfriends and I dressed to the nines and went out to one of the best dinners I have ever had. After 20 minutes of wondering the cobble-stone streets, we stumbled upon an authentic Spanish restaurant. Lured simply by the meals of people sitting outside the restaurant and the quaint atmosphere, we made our peace and decided that this was our final destination.

Little did we know that they would stick us in the attic of the restaurant. That may be slightly dramatic- but they did lead us upstairs away from the rest of the restaurant guests- and might I add a tiny tiny staircase- up into a small light room that smelt of smoke, had one small window, and felt like a tropical heat wave. We sat on small benches around a table that maybe reached our knees, but once the home-made sangria started coming, it did not matter. We ordered tapas on tapas- jamon, steak, tortilla de patatas, patatas bravas, and plates of cheeses and bread. We easily spent three hours in the attic of this restaurant hysterically laughing and drinking, already reminiscing about the month we had spent in Barcelona.

Back down the stairs to reality, our night was still young. Barcelona standards, it was just about time to find a bar.

Our night began and ended at Kapital- the most infamous, touristy club in existence in Madrid. After clubbing in Barcelona, we thought it would be hard to be impressed by any other nightlife, but we were very, very wrong.

Kapital is five stories tall and pulses with a different type of music on every level. The first level has a stage that all other levels overlook and entertains the crowds with live DJs. Every other level- equipped with their own bars and lounges, plays any music from Reggae and Dancehall to hip hop and R&B, creating a world of its own each flight of stairs. In the direct center of all the levels, live entertainment performs. The night we were there, acrobats performed in hoops above the partiers on the first level.

I don’t remember a single song that was played,and I have no idea how my friends did not lose each other in the different levels- but it was one of my favorite nights out in Europe.

With fierce pains coming from my toes crammed in my nude pumps, I finally looked at my phone and realized it was already 5:30 a.m…and we had a 9:30 wake up call.

I grabbed Bridget and a couple other friends, hopped in a taxi, and made the most strategic, perfect stop of the entire night: drinking chocolate and churros at one of the most famous cafes in Madrid. We rejoiced- especially since Barcelona does not have any means for late night food- and chowed on cinnamon churros and chocolate.

The rest of the weekend in a blur. The morning following Kapital, our group journeyed to another art museum to see Picasso’s la Guerica painting (which, might I add, is absolutely incredibly and is a HUGE piece of work-and some Dali. For lunch, a group of us wandered around and old market outside of the city square which had turned into a food and tapas market. That afternoon, our tour guide led us one last time into the Royal Palace (where my feet turned green because the stupid dye from my flats bled).

outside of the Royal Palace

outside of the Royal Palace

I don’t even want to mention the following day, because to me it is easily forgettable, but for the sake of remembering Europe, I will comment on our program’s last Madrid day:

Finally, the next morning, we adorned business casual clothes to tour Spanish corporate businesses. This was the entire purpose of our entire trip, and needless to say, it was the biggest waste of time. Ever.

The main purpose of this trip was to introduce Business and Culture students to successful, Spanish-grown businesses. Half of our group was to be introduced to Repsol, and oil company, and the other to Telefonica, a communications corporation. Since I signed up late, I was given Telefonica.

First, we arrived to the businesses almost 45 minutes late because a girl on our program went missing. And by missing I mean she went home with a random boy she met at the bar the night before and wouldn’t answer anyones calls. No names needed.

This was a blessing in disguise. I am not sure if our tour guide- who is a public relations professional for the business- had something planned before our late arrival, but she gave us literally one of the most unproductive, self-explanatory tours I have ever been on. Thank you for showing me what a conference room and a cafeteria looked like, I had no idea. I still don’t even know what your business is. And the highlight of the tour- a holograph of a woman- was SUPER impressive.

All in all, even though the main purpose of our trip was not received well by most-including me-it was one of the most memorable weekends in Europe.

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