January 6, 2017

Hola! Sorry this post is really dense but we crammed all of Madrid into basically a day and a half! So we began our trip in Madrid. We got to the airport in the morning and but didn't get to the hotel until the afternoon and we had a meeting at 4 so we didn't have a ton of time to do much on our first day. We went shopping at El Corte Ingles which is basically a massive department store. After El Corte Ingles we went to a little cafe for a snack then back to the hotel for our meeting. After the meeting we went to a very local Tapas Bar, a very Spanish restaurant, where we kinda used a lot of team work to communicate with the people at the restaurant.

Our second day in Madrid, we began the day with breakfast from the hotel. I didn't take a picture but it was all fresh fruit and breads and pastries and so much better than a hotel breakfast in the US. We then went to El Prado museum which features artists like "El Greco", Velazquez, and Goya. I had already been when I was here in high school but it was awesome to see again after learning more about the historical significance of certain works and artists in my classes. Our tour guide spoke only in Spanish so it was very encouraging that I was completely able to understand everything he said. My speaking could use a little bit of work but at least my comprehension is good.

After El Prado we went on a walking tour of the city and then we had free time to wander around and explore. We went to a "Mozarella Bar" for lunch, which was really just a pizza/pasta place, and then we went to El Parque de Buen Retiro, what I would say is the equivalent of Central Park, for Madrid. The Park was very calm and relaxed and a nice change from the city which was chaotic with the Holidays still in full swing in Spain.

In Spain, rather than Santa Claus bringing the children gifts on Christmas morning, Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings/Wise Men) bring Children gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany which is celebrated January 6th and celebrates when The Wise Men brought gifts to baby Jesus after he was born. It's a really cool tradition and it was awesome to be in Madrid to see it. The stores were all bustling with people buying last minute gifts and there was a big parade through the city featuring Los Reyes Magos. We got to go watch the parade but we weren't very close. It was one of those cultural experiences that we were really lucky we got to experience because it only comes around once a year and we were lucky enough to be in the Capital for it!

El Prado Museum
Statue in La Plaza Mayor (pictured above)

The Palace
The very center of Spain
This Bear is the symbol for Madrid
This is the cake they make to celebrate the Epiphany
Puerta de Alcala
Parque de Buen Retiro

Los Reyes Magos
Interesting enough there were actually 9 Reyes Magos in the parade. 
People brought ladders across town on the subway to better see the Parade. 

This is an acrobat held up by strings and balloons. 

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