Thursday, June 18, 2015

Catherine in Spain!

Hey from Spain! 

My name is Catherine and I have been studying abroad for the past 3 weeks here in Madrid, Spain and I leave in less than a week. Although I've only been here a short time, I have truly had an amazing experience. Here I'm going to show you some of my favorite moments in Spain. I figured since pictures can tell a 1000 words, I would let pictures show you how I had an amazing time. 

This beautiful place above is Retiro Park. It's in the middle of the busy city of Madrid and it's the most peaceful and quaint park you will visit. You could spend hours here doing nothing but walking, looking, and having a great conversation with someone. 

Jamón is no joke here in Madrid. This man is cutting ham from the leg and serving it to us. It tastes so good. Jamon is usually a tapa here in Spain, which is equivalent to an appetizer in the States. Below is a picture of just a few kinds of Tapas. My favorite are jamon Serrano, tortilla espanola, and croquetas.

Chocolate con churros is no joke here in Madrid either. Every Sunday our host dad would take us to eat the best churros and hot chocolate one could ask for. You dip the churros in the melted milk chocolate and it is so delicious.

El rastro is a flea market in Madrid that happens every Sunday and holiday. A street in Madrid fills with venders wanting you to buy their clothes, shoes, purses, plates, etc. It's a fun Sunday morning activity. The best deal I got was a cup like the ones in the picture for 5 euros. 

In Spain, there are plazas where people can meet, where streets connect, and where entertainers perform their talent. One of my favorite plazas is Puerta de Sol. I enjoyed sitting here and people watching after class. Although there are lots of tourists, you still feel the Spanish vibe. 

Mercardos (market in Spanish) are my favorite. Picture a huge building with tons of venders selling fresh food. I had a sweet tooth so I bought a macaroon and other pastries common in Spain.

Walking around Spain, you fall in love with the architecture. Beautiful buildings and statues are everywhere. I have pictures of buildings on random streets that are just scenic. 

One night you have to go to Templo de Debod. It was a gift from Egypt to Spain and it is amazing. During sunset it is such a beautiful and peaceful place. 

Now I have never liked museums, but I always try my best to like them. When we visited El Prado I was of course going to try to force myself to enjoy it but it was different. There were many rooms of paintings and as someone who isn't into art I stuck to looking at 7 of the famous paintings and the temporary exhibit of Picasso. I think the reason why I enjoyed Prado so much was because there were summaries on the sides of each painting describing the painting. You could imagine what the painting meant, then see what the painter wanted to portray. Although I'm sure other museums do that, I simply loved all 7 of those paintings. Here are two of my favorite paintings. FYI this Mona Lisa was done by one of Da Vinci’s pupils.  

So when you think of Spain, what do you think of? Futbol and bullfights? I'm going to be honest I didn't experience these. I was too scared to see a bullfight (didn't want to see the bull bloody and being killed) and I am just not a follower of soccer. However there are lots of both in Madrid. I happen to visit Barcelona the day after they won the European champions league. Legend says if you drink from this fountain you will return to Barcelona.

Last but certainly not least, the churches and castles in Spain are magnificent. We made a lot of day trips or weekend trips to different cities in Spain: Segovia, Seville, Toledo, Granada, Merida, Barcelona, and Valencia. It was common for us to visit either a church or a castle that was beyond beautiful. My favorite has to be Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the alcazar in Seville where the king and queen would stay. 

As every one of my friends on this trip will tell you, I love Barcelona. The city is beautiful; there is history and a beach, two of my favorite things about a city together. I could go on for hours about how Barcelona is just amazing, but I will just let the pictures tell you. 

So as you can tell, there is a lot to do in Spain. These are only some pictures of my currently out of storage iPhone. I love it here and yes of course it is studying abroad, and I am improving a ton in my Spanish, but it’s also about exploring another part of the world. Having the freedom to explore Madrid, and other cities and in return finding bits and pieces of yourself is very empowering. I have learned so much about myself, what type of person I want to be, more cultures and activities that I like, and don’t like.  I read someone somewhere said, “Travel far enough your meet yourself”. And that is what Spain has done to me.

Catherine Iszard
UNCG in Spain
Madrid, Spain