Exploring outside Madrid
Saturday , March 14th
Well, we knew this amazing adventure had to end sometime, but I cannot believe how quick it flew by. Each and every day was spent learning and exploring the depths of Madrid such as the astonishing Museo del Prado and the breathtaking Palacio Real. With nearly the entire trip being spent in Madrid, a few compañeros and I wanted to see what the outskirts of Madrid had to offer, so we hopped on the train and traveled to nearby Alcalá de Henares.
Before getting into the details of the mini-trip, I want to comment on the weather…amazing!! Spring was in the air as the sun was shining brightly all week, with temperatures peaking in the low 70s every day. We were not disappointed today as temperatures in Alcalá reached 27° C, which is roughly 80° F. The warm, dry weather has definitely added a little something extra to this already magnificent experience, and we all are greatly appreciative of that.
Alcalá is probably most famous for being the home of arguably one of the most influential authors of the Spanish Golden Age, Miguel de Cervantes. The author of the famous book Don Quijote de la Mancha lived near the center of town, and it was a really neat experience being able to see his home. We were able to take a tour of the house, which was a smaller two-story home that had an open courtyard in the center. It was quite an experience getting to see how people lived during the Spanish Golden Age, but one thing is for sure, I am not jealous of them. As you can imagine, the dark rooms and awful stench would have gotten old quickly. Aside from Cervantes, the rest our trip was spent walking through a few parks and visiting the historical plazas located throughout the city (with a lot of laughs mixed in of course).
For dinner tonight, many of us went out to a popular Spanish tapas bar, El Buscón. The word buscón, or “swindler” in English, has historical significance in Spanish literature as it was the title of a popular Baroque piece written by Francisco de Quevedo. This book tells the story of the life of a Spanish pícaro who makes his living freeloading and taking advantage of his fellow peers’ kindness. The funny thing is that, while at dinner, one of the members of our group assumed the role of el pícaro and made off with the leftover chorizo from the neighboring table-a perfect example of one of the many memorable laughs shared while on our trip.
-Mitch Miles '09