Madrid makes being a student and tourist easy!

Hola y buenos dias,

I just wanted to fill you in on my Madrid experience so far.  Madrid is gorgeous, hot, and really hospitable.  The city holds a million possibilities and hidden treasures on its many small avenues.  Even if you don’t know any Spanish you can get by, but you will definitely be able to pick up some key phrases quickly.  For example, “permisso” = excuse me, which is a necessary phrase in the crowded Plaza del Sol.  And, “no gracias” = no thank you, for the many occasions when street advertisers are pushing fliers in your face for all of the local eateries and bars.  In addition, there are plenty of Spaniards that speak english and are more than willing to help you find something or get directions.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

My first night in Madrid was spent dining alfresco until midnight.  Dinners are a time to relax, eat slowly, and enjoy your friends.  Waiters do not try to rush you (even if they are starting to close).  The next stop was an Irish Pub/Disco (which was Irish only in name)!  It was great to dance and enjoy my friends before the start of class on Monday.

On Monday, it was time to wake up early and ride the Metro to Universidad Carlos III de Madrid or UC3M for short.  The campus is in Getafe, which is a 20 minute train ride away.  And the metro is pretty easy to navigate.  And then it was a short walk to campus.  The first day of my Disaster Law class included a field trip to an insurance agency and an informative presentation on how insurance companies manage risk and disasters.

In between studying and attending class, my housemates and I decided to do the “tourist thing” and buy tickets on a double-decker city tour bus.  The bus is big, bright red, and has City Tours emblazoned on it.  But don’t let that stop you!  For 21 Euros you can see the entire city in a day, hopping on and off at your pleasure, and while you are riding you get an audio tour via headset in the language of your choosing.  In one day I was able to visit the Prado museum, the Royal Palace of Madrid, and a ton of cute little shops!  I highly recommend the upper deck because it is open to the elements, offering a cool breeze, and great photo opportunities.
The Prado museum can be seen for free on certain days and times, otherwise it will cost you 14 Euros.  Goya is of course the main attraction, but the entire museum holds so many wonders that you can spend hours there and want to come back for more.  In addition, outside of the museum there are local street vendors selling original works of art, souvenirs, and food.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is another must see.  If you love architecture, statues, gardens and eating gelato as you snap a million pictures, then put the Palace on your list of must visits!
My next adventure is seeing a bull fight this weekend!  Muy macho!



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