Now begins the array of posts about my recent trip to Europe. My first stop: Madrid. (P.S. If you want to know why I embarked on a solo trip across the Atlantic, read about it here.) The first complete day of my trip, a Monday, was a long flight that involved a layover in Stockholm. I arrived in Spain mid-Tuesday evening, meeting my host family at the airport. I stayed with the loveliest family, a friend of a friend who lives in a small suburb outside the city. Her family was the most graciously compassionate people and I feel absolutely blessed to have stayed with them. That same night, we went out for dinner in the city, walking around the Gran Via, exploring Christmas market in the Plaza Mayor, and eating calamari sandwiches.
Jet lag really set in Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, meaning I didn’t wake up until around noon. My first full day in Madrid included a trip to the Prado, strolling around Retiro Park, and experiencing the city through the eyes of a local. One of the best parts of the day (besides seeing some of my all-time favorite artworks) was going to the Palacio de Cristal. In fact, Retiro Park as a whole was probably my favorite. It was used as a private park for the Royal Family of Madrid before being opened to the public. We were only able to explore part of it, but I could have easily spent another day strolling around the grounds.
My last day was super laid back. I stayed in the house, spending time with new friends and eating paella. Oh, paella… so divine. It was actually extremely relaxing to stay at home without the pressure to go into the city. Plus, I had already seen everything I wanted to see the day before. Madrid in a nutshell: full of culture and sunshine.
Next stop: Germany!