I’ve taken lots of buses to Madrid over these (almost) three months, but I’ve only ever seen or slept at the airport. Today, I got to explore Madrid for the first time, and it was beautiful.

We started at our hotel this morning with the most fulfilling breakfast I’ve had in a very long time. Then we set out to see some sights.img_4546At first, it reminded me a lot of London but with bigger roads and slightly less crazy driving. Then pieces of it reminded me of Stockholm. However, by the end of the visit I was able to see Madrid as its own city, full of beauty and history.

Our day started with a bus tour of Madrid where our guide told us about some of the important buildings and statues in the city. He also told us that it’s apparently considered one of the greenest cities because of how many trees and parks are mixed with the buildings. We went by a park that he said was a mile long. We stopped during the bus tour to see a statue of Don Quixote and a temple built and gifted to Spain by Egypt. The temple was in a gorgeous park with a view overlooking the city.img_4551img_4554img_4555img_4559img_4552img_4558img_4557Next on the tour, we went to the Reina Sofia Museum which houses one of Spain’s most famous paintings, “The Guernica.” This is a painting by Picasso that was done during the Spanish Civil War and shows the severe anguish of the people. I studied it during those first two weeks here when I took an art class, and our guide gave us a lot of background before going to see it, so it was even more interesting for those reasons. Then we went back on the bus for a while to go to the main square.

Salamanca is the most famous for its Plaza Mayor, but Madrid’s is pretty cool too. Today it was full of little booths selling all kinds of Christmas items and had a big tree in the square. Our guide told us that Christmas goes on until January 6th here, and that children don’t believe in Santa but in the three wise men as their gift-givers. The plaza will stay full of these booths until the last day of December. img_4573img_4571img_4575img_4564img_4569Our tour lasted about four hours. We saw the Royal Palace but weren’t allowed to go in because they were preparing for the president of China to come. We also couldn’t go to the Prado Museum because they’re celebrating its 199th year with free admission and aren’t allowing tour groups in. But, we did see some really cool buildings, drive through the very nice residential and shopping areas, and see some of the most famous and historic areas of the city. img_4561img_4579img_4581We were allowed about three hours of free time after the tour, so I went with a group of girls to Five Guys. I brought my favorite chicken sandwich with sauteed onions and peppers from my host mom for lunch, but I still got an Oreo shake from Five Guys which was delicious. Then we walked along some of the main streets and squares to shop and kill time until our bus ride back to Salamanca. The city was really cool, but everyone was so tired and cold we didn’t really want to do much. I, personally, would like to go home and lay in bed for a week or two because I think the nearly three months of nonstop travel and doing stuff is finally starting to catch up with me. But, I only have one more trip after this before it’s time to head home for real, so I’m going to push through and make the most of it. img_4577img_4576img_4580

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