“Only study beauty on your knees”

Hola!

I’m somewhat overdue on a blog post. I’ve been so busy adjusting to my new life in Spain, making sure I can navigate my way around the streets and the brand new culture. I wasn’t particularly motivated to blog until I took an online journalism class at my new university yesterday and all of a sudden I want to actually pursue it. So here we go: a highlight reel of my experience so far in Madrid (two weeks late – clearly I am adjusting to Spanish life!)

After flying for 32 hours, I arrived into the European winter, which is quite mild in Madrid compared to northern parts of Europe. I was able to have time to see the main sights, including Plaza Mayor:

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Plaza Mayor

I received a lovely visit from Faye over my first weekend, and we explored these places together with some of the other Australians on exchange with me.

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The gorgeous lake at El Retiro Park

The weather was so perfect the day we went to the park! For 6 Euros you can row in the lake for 45 minutes.

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Palacio de Cristal

Palacio de Cristal is located in El Retiro Park. I think this picture speaks for itself!!

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Museo del Prado

Prado – one of the iconic art museums of Madrid.

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There was a special exhibition at Prado held for an artist named Ingres, a French neoclassical painter. I caught this explanation for one of his paintings and the last sentence particularly resonated with me.

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We also had our very first paella in Spain! I hear it’s meant to be better in Valencia (where the dish originated) but this seafood paella at Rosi la Loca was delicious, nonetheless.

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Churros for breakfast at the famous Chocolateria Sin Gines

Madrid (and Spain overall) is particularly well-known for its churros, a Spanish doughnut dipped into a thick hot chocolate. Need I say, it was a fantastic way to begin the day (yes, people eat them for breakfast!!).

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This picture doesn’t even cover a quarter of the size of El Rastro!

Since it was Sunday, we popped by the famous El Rastro markets (the biggest in Spain). It was nothing like I had ever seen before; stall after stall filled with all kinds of different clothes, accessories and souvenirs. It being winter, I bought a beanie and I think it was one of my greatest investments yet.

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Almudena Cathedral

Although Madrid was declared the capital in 1561, there was no cathedral built in the city. The royal family kept procrastinating on the commencement of the construction of a cathedral. It was put off for so long that construction wasn’t completed until 1993!

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I have been wandering Madrid’s neighbourhoods of Malasaña and Checua, ordering cafe con leches and feeling very Spanish! Occasionally I’ll find a good tea spot as well – they often serve red tea in some places, which is something I’ve never seen back home in Australia!

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One day I walked home and my flatmates asked me if I had seen a parade, to which I knew nothing about. Two minutes later around the corner, I saw big crowds, people in grand, colourful costumes and lots of musicians. It was definitely one of the most Spanish things I have seen. I’m still not 100% sure what the parade was for.

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The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) at my university have been organising lots of events for the international students, including some parties and a flamenco night!

It has been a lot to take in but Madrid is a fantastic city for student life and every day I’m amazed that I’m here amongst such exquisite architecture that is so vastly different from Sydney. I’m slowly picking up the language (for example: ¿bolsa quiere? = do you want a plastic bag?) but any progress is progress!

Not sure how regularly I’ll be posting but I do hope to have some more updates!

x

A

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