Escape the ordinary is a weekly column designed to help me explore Madrid and its Area. The goal is to try one new thing a day and, in turn, write about it. To learn more about origins, read StAbroad student Calihan Huntley.
Monday – 1 point
Monday was, and will be in the future, the hardest day for me to try something new. I’m in class from 8am to 6pm and usually just want to get home and have dinner, especially with the recent time change. One of my roommates, Sevyn, was leaving Madrid on Tuesday to return home after her internship ended, so we went out for dinner to celebrate. Before dinner I needed something to wear so I went to a new vintage store, Coco’s couch, and branched out to a new top that I usually wouldn’t have bought, but really liked. The dinner itself was also a new experience. We went to Grados Ochenta and I had a bunch of different tapas to share. The food they served was very strange, dishes I had never heard of before. By the end of the night we had tried parmesan ice cream, black squid risotto, beef ravioli with crab, sweet bread cutlet sandwich, truffled egg and duck shrimp dumplings. I can’t say that any of the dishes won’t be on my “favorites” list in the future, but it was definitely a new experience.
Tuesday – 0.5 points
I may have slipped a little today. I slept late and had class until 10:30 p.m., and I need to sleep right away because my parents are arriving early tomorrow in Madrid. But sleeping late isn’t something I regularly do on weekdays, but I did it because early Tuesday morning, at a time some call Monday night, I did something new. At midnight when my roommates and I came home from dinner, Maeve asked Sevyn, Lana and I if we wanted to watch a movie and despite it being out of place, I said yes. We ate blueberries and chocolate while spending our last night together in Madrid watching Eat Pray Love. So maybe I didn’t see a new show in Madrid, but I did something out of character that I really enjoyed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Wednesday – 1 point
Today was the day my parents arrived in Madrid! After a long 10 hour flight and a day of jet lag trying to only fall asleep at night, I mostly showed them around my places of comfort. We got to try a new restaurant in a neighborhood I had never been to before for breakfast tapas. Unfortunately, it was generically named “Breakfast tapas” therefore very difficult to recommend. I ate my first Spanish omelet there. Some might say it’s a crime that I’ve been in Spain for almost four months without trying the eggs, but you have to space out to keep the party going all semester!
Thursday – 1 point
There I stood in the San Miguel Market, staging a staring contest with a dead fish whose eyes seemed to follow me. Mouth open to get a fantastic view of the sharp little teeth that lined his mouth. Being from the Midwest, freshly caught fish on display isn’t usually my favorite landscape. However, “we’re not in Kansas anymore” and it’s time to get used to those sharp eyes staring at me as I strategically order chicken and fruit.
Friday – 1 point
The day that killed the week! With no classes and my favorite places in Madrid already visited, it was time to start checking out a few new spots on the list. However, a day is not complete without a trip to Retiro Park but even this daily ritual was a little spicy with rented bikes. The Cibeles Palace which has one of the best viewpoints in Madrid, has also hosted a brand new exhibition exploring the underground culture that emerged in Spain years ago. He successfully proved that a disco ball is not only enough for a club, but also for a museum. To end the day with a provocative opinion from Calihan – I don’t think Spanish chocolate churros are as good as people think. Of course my mother had to try chocolate churros at the famous San Gines to test my hypothesis. Although she liked them, she agreed that they weren’t necessarily worth the hype.
Saturday – 1 point
A day to bring a bit of culture into my life. When I was a sophomore in high school, I wrote a 10-page essay comparing Picasso’s famous painting, The Guernica, to The Book Thief. I was extremely proud of the tryout, so I’ve felt a connection to Guernica ever since. The painting is kept in Madrid in one of the most famous museums, Queen Sophia Museum. A four-story museum with countless exhibits and art mediums. I am a strong advocate for museums, and Reina Sofia makes this job very easy.
Sunday – 0 points
For my first week trying to explore more of Madrid and the surrounding area, I’d say five and a half points out of seven isn’t terribly bad. Today was filled with chores and homework to prepare for class the next day. Showing my mom El Rastro and my favorite thrift store. The only somewhat different thing I did today was stroll Zara, a cult department store in Spain. I have an internship scheduled for the spring semester when I get home, and I need more work clothes. Since there are no Zara stores in the US and I didn’t want to take blazers home in my suitcase, I just wandered around, trying on clothes and taking pictures of labels. so I can shop online when I get home.
Having my parents visit me in Madrid has certainly taken me out of my usual routine more than usual. It’s good that in the first week that I assigned points to my daily activities, I had people by my side. Studying abroad is an experience I will never regret, but the experience, like life, will always be cyclical.