¿Donde está la biblioteca? …..

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During our time off between finals and the beginning of the second academic semester, a few of us decided to take a trip to Madrid for a few days—after a lengthy deliberation. We arrived during the morning to find the Spanish sun shining. Sunlight being a rare luxury in Belgium, we immediately took to the streets to explore the city. Through our meandering and a free walking tour that we took the second day (on which Dan, Pete, myself, and Matt portrayed Felipe II, Felipe III, Felipe IV, and Charles II respectively in order for our tour guide to easily explain the Hapsburg dynasty), we were able to see a lot of the city. Sights included Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Palacio Real (the largest palace in western Europe), and much more.

On our second night in the Spanish capital we went on a guided tapas tour. When times were tough during the reign of Alfonso XIII in the nineteenth century, workers had to choose to spend their wages on food or drink, unable to afford both. When most chose drink, their empty stomachs had a tough time absorbing the alcohol forcing them to go to work drunk. Needless to say, there was a drop off in production of most goods. Alfonso took action and made it law that every drink be served with some food. Today the tradition of the tapas remains, though not mandated by law.

During our tour we visited four different tapas restaurants tasting a different delicacy and sangria at each place. On the tour we met a nice couple from Knoxville, Tennessee who livened up the night with some interesting conversation. After nibbling on some standard dishes like potato pie and crab meat, we endeavored to try some more daring tapas like bull’s tail in chocolate sauce and diced pig’s ear—both common dishes in Madrid.

After packing up, grabbing a bite to eat, and one last walk through the Puerta del Sol, we were on our way back to cloudy Belgium. Overall, it was a great weekend in Madrid, and although we might have made one or two trips to a nearby McDonald’s, the food was great—as were the sights. Spain is definitely a country worth visiting. ¡Adios!



~ by jrroem on February 17, 2011.

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