As I sit here trying to write this, it’s a little hard to look back and sift through the hazy mojito daydream that was my trip to Madrid this past weekend. It seems pretty surreal, going to a place I’d never been and staying with a bunch of people I’d never met who spoke a language I barely understand, and now I’m back in my room in Scotland like nothing ever happened. Life’s crazy, man.

Last week began pretty normally, a little golf, a lot of reading. Then, I left for Madrid on Thursday. One of my best friends at Whitman, Baker, studied in Madrid last semester, and suggested that I stay with his old flatmates. So I talked with Rob, Bake’s old flatmate, and we figured it out. I realized that it was sort of ridiculous, staying with a bunch of people I hadn’t met before, but I thought it would be a good adventure. Studying abroad is about being a fish out of water, so I went for it.

Rob met me at the metro, and we headed to the flat, where I met the whole crew. They were all super nice and welcoming, and seemed pretty cool with having a stranger chill with them all weekend. Also, not all of them spoke English particularly well, and combined with my rudimentary Spanish, made for lots of fragmented Spanglish conversations, which was kind of fun to figure out.

We went out that evening, hitting a couple bars, and a couple flat parties (and McDonalds of course). It was cool to be with people that actually lived in Madrid and knew where they were going, so I felt like I was on an authentic night out. I couldn’t understand most of what anyone was saying, but that’s part of the deal. I played the part of “confused tourist” pretty well.

The next day, Rob and his flatmate Mauro gave me the tour of the town. The tourist spots in Madrid are all clustered together, so we skated through pretty quickly. I saw the cathedral, the palace, and the Egyptian temple, as well as some cool gardens, plazas, and parks. I also got churros and chocolate at Madrid’s oldest churro spot, which was awesome, given my passion for fried treats of all kinds.

My favorite sightseeing spot, however, was touring the Bernabeau, home of Real Madrid, arguably the most successful soccer club in the world. Rob and I met some other friends and took the self-guided tour, which included the stadium museum, the team locker room, and sitting on the team bench. The bench seats are crazy comfortable, like seats in a luxury SUV. If I were to ever play on Real Madrid, I think I would refuse to go in the game, just so I could sit in those seats.

We went out again that night, starting with the flat, and then moving to a couple clubs. We took on some Danish people in a dance-off, and overall had a pretty great night. And in typical Spaniard fashion, we stayed out until about 4 in the morning. I don’t know how those people don’t collapse of exhaustion.

We spent the next day hanging out on the Siete Tetas, a hilly park with a beautiful view of the city. After the last couple nights, this was a much- needed day of rest for the squad.

I took off early the next morning, and got through a pretty inefficient day of travel thanks to Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. If you need a good read and are curious about the civil conflict in Sri Lanka, I highly recommend it. After a great nap back in my room, I woke up at 4:40 to messages asking me to come play a soccer game at 5. So I headed to the field to play in the McIntosh Hall-St. Salvator’s hall match.

To my surprise and amusement, there were tons of people there from both halls, with face paint, signs, the whole deal. Apparently I’d stumbled into a pretty big game. But the atmosphere made it a lot of fun. Unfortunately, McIntosh lost 6-5, but I had a good time anyways running around in the sun and yelling at people.

This week, I finish up classes (I know, it went by too fast) and head to Dublin on Thursday to hang out with my friend Ellie for a few days. Should be a good time! K bye.


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