Last Thursday night I finally arrived in Madrid! After an eight-hour bus ride from Lisbon, my seminar finally made it to the city we’ve all been waiting for. My host mother’s name is Mercedes. She’s a retired lawyer with two adult kids, and knows enough English that we can communicate with a combination of hand motions and garbled speech (if only I knew Spanish better…). Julia, the girl from Amherst who I’m living with, knows more Spanish than I do and can communicate more. We live in a small, beautifully arranged apartment in the neighborhood of the Retiro, Madrid’s big central park.
Friday morning was dedicated to a long, tedious school orientation. Luckily, Mercedes went with us on the Metro to school; otherwise we would have been late! Julia and I ate lunch with a few friends in a beautiful outdoor plaza. It’s chilly here but very sunny, and sitting outside provided ample opportunity for people (and bird, and cat) watching. The rest of the day was spent sorting out some logistics, then walking around Retiro park. The park is huge and Julia and I had no idea where we ended up. We did find a cute pond with plenty of ducks. There were lots of people out running, roller-blading, or strolling through the long paths. I imagine the park will be even prettier come spring!
Yesterday, Julia and I continued to explore the city on foot, both on our own and with a school-led walking tour. The tour wasn’t very good (our guide didn’t know too much about the city), but we got to see many of the major sites – the Plaza Mayor, Sol, the opera house, and more.
Julia and I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the National Archeological Museum.
It’s a good thing I’m traveling with someone who’s as much of a museum nerd as I am! After the museum we stopped in a cafe for mugs of thick, steaming hot chocolate, then headed home for dinner.
It’s overwhelming to see how much this city has to offer. I barely know how to begin getting to know it’s many twisting alleyways, dim coffee shops, and sprawling plazas. I’m not sure how the next few months will unfold here, but I’m excited to find out!