I started my time in Madrid on a planned program trip with my Dartmouth professor Isabel. We all stayed in a really nice hotel off of the Plaza del Sol in central Madrid. We visited the Prado and the Reina Sofia art museums, where the great works of Diego Velasquez, Salvador Dalí, Goya, Picasso, and many others are housed. My favorite artist by far is Velasquez. Velasquez was the hired painter for the royal court in Madrid, and is famous for his unique “Las Meninas” portrait of the royal family. He also painted many scenes mixing mythological Greek gods with very human scenes from Velasquez’s own life. I love his painting style and the technical perfection he achieves in his very realistic figures. In some of his paintings, one being “La Fragua de Volcano,” it looks as if you could reach out and grab the figures depicted. Love it love it love it. Dalí’s paintings were interesting in their own way, but the subject material is very alien and was a little strange for me.
After seeing two huge art museums in one day, we had dinner at an Indian restaurant (yes, Indian food in Spain). I had only eaten Indian food once before, from Jewel of India in Hanover. I was a little nervous at first, but I actually ended up loving it (once I figured out what to order, thanks to the recommendation Jayant, a knowing student on the program). I will be ordering more Jewel of India when I get back to Hanover!
We also went to a Flamenco bar to see a Flamenco show. I loved the fast-paced, loud Flamenco beats, and I still have no idea how the dancers moved their feet so fast and stomped on the wood floor for such a long time without their calves and quads fatiguing! I had never seen Flamenco before and thoroughly enjoyed the show, however it did get a little repetitive towards the end.
The next day, we travelled to Toledo, a quaint little town outside Madrid. It reminded me of a little Swedish or German town, not that I’ve ever been to Sweden or Germany. We toured the beautiful town, saw the magnificent stone bridges and large stone walls surrounding the city, visited a large cathedral (I have now been to SO many cathedrals and mosques I can’t keep them all straight), visited cute artisanal shops, and finished the trip at a delicious Spanish restaurant. Arriving back in Madrid for the night, we all went out to the huge “Capital” discoteca. Unfortunately, during our nights in Madrid, three more of us lost out iPhones to Spanish thieves…more on that later.
After the program trip ended, three friends and I planned a week-long vacation during our break from classes. We stayed three more days in Madrid, and then travelled to Cordoba, Ronda, and Granada.