Finally the day had arrived! I was headed off to Spain, feeling extremely at-ease, well prepared for the weeks ahead, and 100% confident in my grasp of the Spanish language…SIKE! I was none of the above and as it turns out, I accidentally booked my flight to Madrid a day early (whoops), meaning that I would be traveling and spending the day in the city alone before my 26 classmates and 3 professors arrived the following day for orientation week. Having never been overseas before, you could say I was a little anxious for my flight that evening…
Flash-forward roughly seven hours: as my plane was beginning to descend into Madrid, sunlight filtering in through the windows— it was 8:30 AM when I arrived in the city— and I felt reinvigorated by the day ahead. The airport signs were easy to follow, and I managed to get a cab to take me to the Hotel Europa, which was to be our home for the next week. Despite the fact that I hadn’t slept at all on the plane and it was about 3 AM in Philadelphia, as well as approaching 100 degrees in Madrid, I could not wait to start exploring the city. After checking into the hotel, I began to wander the streets. I admit I got a little lost, but the cobblestone alleys and intricate architecture were all so picturesque that I didn’t mind one bit. Here are some pictures I took during my taxi ride and walk around the city, just minutes from our hotel situated in the very center of Madrid:
As both a coffee lover (addict) and a sleep-deprived individual, I needed some caffeine in my life. Thankfully, there is no shortage of café in Spain. I ordered “café solo” or black coffee and soon discovered that Spanish coffee is served in much smaller quantities than your typical U.S.-sized mug and is a LOT stronger. As much as a love heading to Cecil B. Moore for a cup of Dunkin, the Spanish coffee is quickly becoming my new favorite.
I love people-watching as much as the next girl, so I decided to grab a table at a restaurant overlooking a small plaza, watching as local “madrileños” and tourists strolled through the streets. It was about 105 degrees at this point, but the overhead umbrellas sprayed a cool mist about every 10 seconds. Anytime Temple wants to install those to the tables on Liacouras Walk, let me know. I’m 100% on board.
I thought I would practice some of my Spanish skills, so I ordered my dinner in Spanish, feeling like a pro. The waiter smiled and responded, “Oh, you speak English?” At the time, I felt a little discouraged in my speaking skills, wondering if I had pronounced something completely wrong. As I would soon learn, a high percentage of the city’s population speaks English, especially waiters and shop owners, who want to be courteous to non-native speakers. Fortunately, in Oviedo, where most of the inhabitants know little to no English, I will have the opportunity fully immerse myself in the language.
By around late afternoon, I was definitely ready for a siesta to combat my jet lag. It had only been one day in the city, but I was already entranced by the beauty and history of the region and extremely eager for the orientation week that lay ahead. ¡Buenas noches, Madrid!