First Impressions: Madrid, Toledo and a Few Things in Between

Wow! I can’t even fathom the idea that this experience is really happening. I’ve been in Spain for a little over two weeks now, and I’ve learned something new each day. All I can say about these last two weeks is that they’ve been BEYOND exhausting, but have been worth every second of every day. Just a for warning, this is an extremely condensed version of my first two weeks in Spain. It does not explained NEARLY enough of my experiences in the beautiful cities I visited.

Well, I arrived to Madrid on January 21st, early in the morning…what needs to be considered is the 6 hour time difference from Florida. So arriving in Madrid at 8:30 a.m., means that it is 2:30 a.m. in Florida…needless to say I was exhausted!

For the first 5 days of being in Spain, I spent time with some close family friends that live right on the outside of the center of Madrid. I am so glad that I was able to have this adjusting time because it allowed me to experience Madrid on a personal level. I was able to freely come and go when I wanted, and was able to see all of the places (mostly museums) that my mom had written down for me to see! The one thing I recommend for  any STUDENTS coming to Madrid and wanting to see the museums is to bring your STUDENT ID from your home university in the states. When you walk up to the ticket window just say “Soy estudiante”, show them you’re ID and you’re entrance to the museum is FREE….yes GRATIS. This saved me a lot of money, and allowed me to see amazing and beautiful works of art in the Reina Sofia, Prado, Museo de Sorolla, the Thyssen, and even the Royal Palace.

Palacio Real
Palacio Real

Getting accustomed to the 6 hour time difference and enjoying multiple 12 hour sight-seeing days in a row really got the best of me. But when I met up with my ISA group five days after arriving in Madrid, I kind of felt bad for the rest of my group because they were all jet-lagged from JUST getting off their flights. Me on the other hand, I was wide awake ready for the rest of the day. We eventually had our first meeting with our FANTASTIC directors. All the people in my group were unsure of what to expect from our directors, but Roberto and Carmen instantly made us feel welcome and comfortable. They explained to us that Salamanca was the FIRST ISA office in Spain…AWESOME right? and also told us about our up-coming excursions before we arrive in Salamanca. The rest of the day we had free time to eat, drink, and be merry.

The next two days we toured around Madrid…places that I had already been but loved going back to with a tour guide… the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and the Prado! On our last day in Madrid, I went out walking with a large group of ISA students to show them around because I knew the city scape a little better than them. Well….they entrusted in me to get them back to the hotel after seeing everything, and what did I do? Took them in the complete OPPOSITE direction. We were completely cross map from where we were supposed to be….ooops. It took us around 30-45 minutes to get back to the hotel and the whole time I apologized. But you know what, we got to see EVERYTHING of Madrid at night. Not many people can say that.

Plaza Mayor
ISA Spring 4 Group in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid

I would describe the bizarre eating routine of the Spaniards and our trip to Toledo, but I believe that Emily Pena did a WONDERFUL job of explaining what those two aspects are like. But I will leave a picture of Toledo, because like she mentions in her post… “beautiful” does not do justice to Toledo.

The beautiful landscape of Toledo

Well, like I said…this was a really condensed version of my excursions around Madrid and Toledo, but the next blog post I’ll be sure to include info about Salamanca. By the way I’m already in love with this city. It gets more and more gorgeous every day I walk to class. I am so thankful that I am able to have this experience and to live in this beautiful country.

Gianna Weller
Salamanca, Spain
Spring 2012

4 thoughts

  1. Great post! I just returned from study abroad in Madrid this past fall, and I kept a blog as well. Don’t be so hard on yourself for condensing your time, I spent HOURS on blog after blog trying to describe every detail, only to have people ask me “so, tell me everything about your trip!” when I came back! Im so glad you loved Madrid and Toledo, and Salamanca will be a blast. It’s easy to walk all around salamanca, and don’t forget to go to some chupiterias while you’re there! Good luck and savor every moment!

  2. WOW ! what a wonderful & amazing experience too have Gianna . I hope U & your friends and fellow students have the time of your lives ., Have a save trip & ENJOY ! ENJOY ! & ENJOY! . LUV ALWAYS ! COUSIN MARY XOXO.,

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