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Gap Year Abroad

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Exploring the Capital

This past weekend I had my CIEE trip. Each semester CIEE takes us on a trip all together. In Chile we went to the Atacama Desert, and this past weekend we went to Madrid.

We took the AVE, which is the high-speed train in Spain. The first thing I noticed upon arriving is that Madrid is much much colder than Sevilla, which makes sense since it is in the mountains and farther north.

Although Madrid is the capital of Spain, I was unimpressed. The architecture in Sevilla is much more impressive and it is just honestly too big. There are so many people it can be hard to walk at times.

Friday evening after we had eaten lunch and done a bit of shopping, window shopping that is, since none of us have any money left, we saw the Lion King.

El Rey Leon came to Spain several years ago and is based off the musical from the states. It was really good, even though I couldn’t sing along to the songs since they were all in Spanish.

After that we had free time to explore the city. We ended up finding a great pizza places that sold slices for 2 euros.

On Saturday we had a walking tour. I’m still not really sure what we saw since our guide wasn’t very good at explaining things. The tour actually started out in English, but I asked the tour guide to switch to Spanish. She told me the directors wouldn’t let her. After we all explained to Cristina and Alejandra that we really all could understand Spanish, they allowed the guide to speak in Spanish.


We walked around for about two and a half hours and passed a bunch of interesting looking places, but we never entered any buildings. I think CIEE definitely could have done a better job of planning this trip. We barely saw any of Madrid and we had so much free time, but it was usually for an hour or something so it was never enough time for us to go out and see things.

On Saturday afternoon we did go to El Prado for a few hours. The amount of artwork in that museum is overwhelming. I managed to see Las Meninas and Saturn Devouring his Son, but not much else. Although I did recognize many paintings from studying them in my Western Lit class. It was really cool to be able to look at a painting and understand the history behind it and the time period it came from.

We decided to eat dinner at the Mercado de San Miguel on Saturday. I think this was my favorite thing about Madrid. There were so many food stands, and it was all reasonably priced.

Sunday was a very relaxed day. We went to Retiro Park. There are actually several art museums in the park and there is also a small lake. We took rowboats out on the lake and rowed around for a bit. Well I actually didn’t end up doing any rowing, but that’s because my friend insisted that we was perfectly capable of doing it. So while the boys rowed, Haley and I serenaded them with rounds of row row row your boat.


After the park we had lunch and then we went back to the hotel and almost everyone napped.

When it was time to go Emma K, Emma W, and Hannah and I stayed in the hotel for a bit since we were taking an overnight train to Madrid.

We ended up going to this cafe and enjoying some delicious chocolate cake and then sitting in a park for a while.

Our train left at 10:30 and we arrived in Barcelona at 7. It was a bit of a long ride, but I did manage to get some sleep. I was in a cabin with six other people and we all attempted to recline the seats, which didn’t really work. Nevertheless, I sleep for at least five hours. Hannah and Emma weren’t so lucky. For some reason the cart they were in never turned off its lights and there seats could barely recline. We were all pretty tired when we arrived in Barcelona on Monday morning.


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