Day 1: Wandering Around Madrid

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Hi all!

My name is Nicole Cocuy and I’m a rising senior communications major. This summer, I will be studying Spanish at the Universidad de Granada in Spain with AIFS. Before I arriving in Granada to begin my classes, my family and I decided to take a week-long a road trip around Spain.

I just arrived in Madrid this morning and all I can say is that I’m in love. This is my second time in the city and, frankly, last time I found it a bit underwhelming. I didn’t even want to stop in Madrid on this trip. However, I’m so glad that I’ve returned because my opinion of this beautiful city has completely flipped. Everything is so clean, vibrant, and aesthetically perfect that it’s impossible to hate on Madrid. The people are also really nice and helpful. We have yet to run into any bad service or rude locals.

We spent the day just wandering around the city. We explored Parque del Retiro, which is easily the most beautiful park that I’ve ever visited. The weather was perfect–about 70 degrees. People were paddle boating around a monument, picnicking in the grass, or playing sports on open fields. It was so cute. We stopped by the crystal castle, which is this beautifully translucent building that literally sparkles in the Spanish sunshine. Inside, there was a brightly-colored quilted tent filled with patterned rugs and comfy sofas.

Parque del Retiro - Madrid
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Then, after freshening up a little bit, we ventured off to do some sight-seeing. We entered the Palacio de Cibeles…

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…strolled through La Puerta del Sol…

La Puerta del Sol

…grabbed a snack at this cute little bakery called La Mallorquina, which has been open since 1894–and my dad swears that their chocolate croissants are the best he’s ever had (and we’ve been to Paris)…

La Mallorquina - Madrid, Spain La Mallorquina - Madrid, Spain La Mallorquina - Madrid, Spain La Mallorquina - Madrid, Spain La Mallorquina - Madrid, Spain

…browsed the Plaza Mayor…

Plaza Mayor - Madrid, SpainPlaza Mayor - Madrid, Spain Plaza Mayor - Madrid, Spain

…and visited the Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace (from afar).

Almudena Cathedral - Madrid, Spain Almudena Cathedral - Madrid, Spain Royal Palace - Madrid Spain Almudena Cathedral - Madrid Spain Almudena Cathedral - Madrid, Spain

And, finally, we ate. A lot. First, we sampled a variety of Spanish delicacies at Toro Tapas. This is easily my favorite restaurant in Madrid.I also accomplished one of the things on my Study Abroad bucket list at this restaurant! I tried oxtail for the first time and it was delicious.

Toro Tapas - Madrid, Spain  Toro Tapas - Madrid, Spain Toro Tapas - Madrid, Spain

After some souvenir shopping (I bought myself Guernica-themed salt and pepper shakers!), we indulged ourselves in some churros con chocolate at the famous Chocolateria San Gines to finish off the day. Unfortunately, it was a little overrated. The chocolate was bitter and the churros were flavorless, but I think we all built it up to be something different than it actually was. Advice: if you decide to order churros con chocolate and you’re with a small group, buy one order of chocolate for all of you to share. It’s a lot of chocolate and, unfortunately, a lot of it goes to waste.

Chocolateria San Gines - Madrid, Spain Chocolateria San Gines

I love Spain. I love Madrid. Everything is so beautiful that it feels unreal. Buenas noches, Madrid!

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