Meet the group. Nineteen of the most interesting Hokies I’ve ever met. I know I’m two weeks late on updating y’all about my ventures here in Madrid, but I haven’t had time to blog about Madrid because I’m too busy experiencing all this wonderful city has to offer (and of course taking siestas when needed)! After spending nine days in Italy with my family, I got on a flight leaving Rome and landed in Madrid two weeks ago. To spare you the task of reading a very long, possibly boring, and typical story of how a 20 year old American girl got lost in 2 airports in 2 different countries (one language I knew and the other all I could say was buongiorno and ciao) on the same day by herself, I’ll just say that despite all of the stress and complete flabbergastedness that I felt, I made it to my host family’s house safe and sound.
La Puerta de Alcalá in La Plaza de la Independencia in Madrid. Our guide told us that this is where people would walk into the city. The gate in the center was for the king and queen to walk through, the two directly to the left and right were for noble men and women, and the two on the outside were for the rest of Madrid.
This is La Plaza Mayor. It used to be the place for all commerce in Madrid, but now is surrounded by restaurants and street vendors.
When I walked in I was greeted by my madre and my roommate Salina (I make references to Selena Gomez quite often). From that point on our whole little family has hit it off and we have intense conversations over lunch and dinner…of course in Spanish. Hot topics include: the stupidity and popularity of smoking in Europe, prejudices towards Latin Americans in Spain, stereotypes of Americans, and bull fights as a tradition and as a form of public execution. Needles to say it gets pretty heated. When Salina and I are able to get a word in (it is a very common trait of Spanish women to talk loudly and for long periods of time), we notice later that night how much our speaking is improving since we’ve been here!
We have class Monday-Thursday from 9:00-1:30. The picture above shows all of the girls in the group at our school, Estudio Sampere, in Madrid. All of the other time is filled with visits to museums and famous parts in Madrid, excursions to other cities in Spain, Salina and I exploring the city, Salina and I thinking about going on a run, and then participating in one of the best parts of Spanish culture…siestas. A siesta is the art of taking a nap after lunch until about 4; however, unfortunately some of our siestas turn into sleeping until 5. That hasn’t happened too often though because we are so excited to be here and want to see as many different parts of the city as possible! I’m taking a theatre class with 5 other students and an amazing teacher. She is very energetic and animated (as you would think being a theatre teacher), which is very helpful since it is easy to daze off when you’re in the same room with the same teacher and classmates for 4 hours. The first weekend I was here (May 25-26), we visited Toledo, El Escorial, and Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen).
Toledo was a very interesting city because it is one of the only cities where Muslims, Jews, and Christians live together in peace. It was amazing to see all of the different influences each religion and culture had on the city.
The next day we visited El Escorial and Valle de los Caídos. When we walked up to El Escorial, the size of the building was amazing. I had seen a lot of cathedrals and amazing architecture in Italy, but this was just crazy. Historically, El Escorial was the king’s residence, but it also housed a basilica, a palace, a pantheon of kings and princes, and a ginormous library. This monastery is about 675 feet by 528 feet, so you could say that the tour took a while. That same day we went to Valle de los Caídos which is a monument that honors the soldiers on both the Republican and Nationalist sides who died during the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, the infamous dictator Francisco Franco ordered the construction of this famous site, which took 18 years to finish. Although Franco is buried here, it is still visited by many because it commemorates the fallen soldiers.
Now on to la comida…I felt obligated to share a recipe with you. Food here is pretty basic, but always delicious! Every morning for breakfast, Salina and I are given a piece of toast with butter and jam and coffee (I get hot chocolate because I’m not a coffee drinker 🙂 – it’s basically the Spanish version of Ovaltine – called Cola Cao). Then we go home for lunch after class and eat around 2:30, or get a packed lunch which consists of a bocadillo (sandwich on french baguette) and a piece of fruit. The recipe that I’m going to share with you we had for dinner. It is a very traditional Spanish dish (Hayley, I’m sure you had this multiple times in your 4 month stay in Valencia!) – tortilla española. In short, a potato omelet. That name just doesn’t do it justice, so always say it in Spanish! It sounds cooler.
La Tortilla Española: (por mi madre española, Piedad)
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Servings: 4 people
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 eggs
- 6 tablespoons EVOO
- S & P to taste
Once the potatoes are peeled, slice in half. With the flat side facing down on the counter, slice into half moons. Heat 4 tablespoons of EVOO up in a pan and place the onions and potatoes in the oil to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper and stir frequently. While the potatoes and onions are cooking, beat the 6 eggs until they are well-combined. After the potato mixture has cooked for about 15 minutes, scrape the mixture into the beaten eggs. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO in the same skillet, and once it has heated up, add the egg mixture and spread it around to make an even layer. Cover and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes and once it has set, place a plate on the top of the tortilla and skillet and flip it over. Then slide it back into the pan so the other side can cook. Cook for about 5 minutes on the other side. Remove from pan, slice, and serve. Enjoy!