The most stereotypical of mistakes of foreign travelers, my roommate blew a fuse with a hairdryer. Adding to the stressed situation, our landlady was unable to open the power box when giving my roommates and I the tour of our apartment, so we never learned how to fix electrical issues. I know that this is more of a failure of life skills than Spanish skills, but no matter what switches we hit, the power would not go back on. We flipped the off switch to on, nothing. Flipped the main power button off and on, nothing. Eventually, we reached out to a tenant down the hall who was able to help. After we thanked her, she explained that a group of noisy and disruptive boys had lived in the apartment before us (clarifying the presence of the party warning in our living room). We assured her that we would be much better neighbors.
Sharing an apartment with random people in a foreign country could be disastrous, but I am pleased with my results. For not knowing each other before arrival in Madrid, my roommates and I are very in sync. We are always on the same page, in and out of the apartment, and have kept each other sane in this new environment. Exploring Madrid in my trio has made the first week of my adventure better than I could have hoped. Gracias, mis compañeras!
Paradise Lost, Paradise Found
One of my main goals of studying abroad is to blend in with the madrileños. Because of the allure of a new place, however, my roommates and I decided to take a tourist day. We wandered around the center of the city, cameras in hand, to two of the largest plazas in Madrid: Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Both squares have a part in Madrid’s history, but have since developed separately. Puerta del Sol is now a commercial center, with many shopping and eating opportunities. Plaza Mayor, conversely, has retained most of its simplicity, serving mainly as a residential facility. Though different, the plazas exude an authentic Spanish charm that cannot be changed.
A short walk from the Plaza Mayor is the Royal Palace of Madrid, the next stop on our self-guided tour. As navigator, I used my smartphone map to direct us to the palace. Fifteen minutes later, in unfamiliar territory, I realized that I misread the map and set out in the opposite direction of our destination. We were distracted from my mistake, though, by great bursts of color against the grey, January sky. The buildings constructing the perimeter of the Plaza Tirso de Molina stood out in various shades of coral, yellow, and tangerine. Eyes were drawn in, however, by the rainbow of flowers displayed for sale. The Mercado de Flores is one of my favorite finds in Madrid thus far. Aside from being a visual playground, the market is special because it is something I stumbled upon, not recommended to me in any guidebook. In addition to visiting popular sites on my travels, I hope to have many more moments of discovery, places that I can claim as personal treasures.
- Get lost, but not too lost. The pride I have in my floral market find gives me confidence and ambition to continue exploring. Even though I “got lost,” I was aware of my surroundings, carried both paper and mobile maps, and knew I was never more than five minutes from metro station. Go out and search your city, but be prepared, be smart, and be safe.
- Puerta del Sol
- Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 28013 Madrid
- Plaza Mayor
- Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid
- Plaza Tirso de Molina – Mercado de Flores
- Plaza Tirso de Molina, 28012 Madrid
Paz, Amor, Madrid