The week of February 18th kicked off our first round of exams at the Spanish-American Institute, not exactly the most exciting thing to blog about! Unfortunately, reviewing all the material and studying with classmates took up most of my free time and energy for other activities. Luckily all the craziness wrapped up just in time for a 21st birthday celebration for a fellow HPU student in our program, Kyle. A group of us had dinner at a famous tapas restaurant in Sevilla called Los Coloniales where we ordered mushroom croquettes, chicken with a delicious almond sauce and some crispy calamari, just to name a few! Afterwards we enjoyed some gelato at another famous Sevilla hotspot called Rayas; talk about scrumptious!
|Bridge in Ronda|
The following week we had only three days of classes because of a Spanish holiday on Thursday, la dia de Andalucia, giving us a four day weekend; the perfect amount of time to pack up our bags and head out on our own adventure to Madrid! Feeling adventurous and all but living by the phrase 'you'll sleep when you're dead', Ariel, Erin, Tommy and I decided to hop on the midnight bus, leaving Sevilla at 12:15am and arriving in Madrid at 6:20am, where we met up with our friend Alex who had arrived the day before. After checking into our hostel before the sun was even up, we recharged with some cafe con leche and churros in a cafe until around 9:00am then began to explore the city. Fighting off the urge to take a quick cat nap on the nearest available bench, we walked down a main stretch of road called Gran Via, through the Paseo del Prado and ended up in front of el Museo del Prado (the Prado Museum), the largest and most significant art museum in Spain, that is home to many works by artists such as Goya, Velasquez and Greco. Feeling pretty cultured and dangerously close to becoming zombies, we headed back to our hostel for a little afternoon siesta before going out that night to explore the Madrid bar scene.
|El Palacio Real|
The following day, Ariel and I fought the urge to sleep away the sunlight and got up bright and early to continue touring the city. After hitting up a little coffee shop for a caffeine fix, we took a tour of el Palacio Real (the Royal Palace). Made up of over 3,000 rooms and situated next to the Almudena Cathedral. The palace was an amazing sight to see, both inside and out. Even though the tour for the public only brought us through about 40 rooms, it was clear the Spanish royalty take no shortcuts when its comes to decoration and lavish design. While the royal family no longer uses this palace as an actual residence, it was really interesting to visit the rooms that were once used by royalty for dressing, reading, throwing dinner parties and hosting weddings. After visiting the palace and the cathedral, we ventured over to Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor specialty foods market that all but blew mine and Ariel's taste buds out of the water. Tasting our way through what seemed like a never ending number of food venders, Ariel and I finally decided on treating ourselves to a little lunch consisting of fresh pesto lasagna and fried rice and cheese balls. Sitting out in the sun, enjoying our decadent plates of food in the middle of this beautiful city was definitely a memory we'll both have for a long time! After licking our plates clean (literally), we made our way to Plaza Mayor, a huge square nestled among the older part of the city, filled with restaurants and shops. Definitely a cool place to see, but maybe next time we'll save some room in our tummies.
|Mercado de San Miguel|
|Overlooking the cliffs in Ronda|
|El Palacio Real|
|Overlooking the outskirts of Madrid with Ariel|
|La Plaza Mayor|