Wednesday July 5th
During the day on Wednesday I focused on getting school work done. Not the most interesting day, but after our mandatory weekly meeting we went to Hyde Park to watch a movie outside.
I had never been to Hyde park before but all of the food stalls and rides were super cool. We got there right around sunset and it was absolutely beautiful. We grabbed some food before getting our wireless headphones and setting up our blankets in front of the screen. We watched one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride and had a great time.
Thursday July 6th
Thursday was another productive day. I studied for all the finals I had on Monday and Tuesday and packed for my weekend trip to Madrid.
I heard about a Ben & Jerry’s store opening not too far from the house so that afternoon I took a walk over to get myself a free scoop of ice cream. The amount of free food (especially ice cream) I’ve managed to find in London is incredible to me.
Friday July 7th
Early Friday morning we hopped on a plane to Madrid, Spain. After checking into our hostel and getting some lunch we went to get Churros and Chocolate, the staple Spanish dessert. We went to San Gines, a world-renowned chocolatería and each ordered a serving. Although the churros and chocolate were not nearly as sweet as I was expecting they were still really delicious. We ordered way too many for the three of us to share so we ended up feeling way too full. As we were sitting at the table two men came up to us and asked for money. All of us firmly said no and were expecting them to leave us alone, but one of them actually tried to put his hat over one of my friends’ phone and steal it. Luckily, she noticed what he was trying to do almost immediately and was able to grab it from him. We were all pretty shocked, but I was truly surprised that this was the only time someone tried to steal anything from me or my friends my entire time abroad. After eating we went back to the hostel for a quick siesta. Naps are the norm in Spain and we fully embraced that cultural aspect while we were there. Then we just wandered around the city, not really looking to go anywhere in particular. The weather was not the best, as it kept raining on and off again and it got pretty cold by nighttime. We came across the Palacio Cibeles which had a huge “Refugees Welcome” sign hanging across it. We tried to go inside that evening, but the building had closed. We decided to eat dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (authentic Spanish food, I know haha). It was actually really neat to see experience eating at an American restaurant in a totally different country because the menu was exactly the same, but the atmosphere inside was different. All of the decor was also really interesting to look at since it was mainly Spanish musicians and other celebrities that were featured.
Saturday July 8th
We truly made the most of our free-time on Saturday. The first place we went was the Palacio Real de Madrid. We paid for tickets to get into the Palace and were able to see some beautiful sights both inside and outside the palace walls. We had seen many palaces in many countries before the Palacio Real de Madrid, but I must say this was one of my favorites. All of the art inside was beautiful and I really enjoyed learning about the history of Madrid, which I knew nothing about prior to our trip.
After touring the palace we went to the Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor food market. We got our first plate of authentic paella before walking to the Temple de Debod. There wasn’t much to see at the actual Temple, but the view from the city at the top of the hill it is on was once again stunning.After the Temple we walked back to the Palacio Cibeles. Inside there were a few different exhibits with some information about Madrid and a some social movements that have been prominent in the city. Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. We had to stand on a median in the middle of the street to get this picture, but it turned out great. On our way back to the hostel we had to stop at La Mallorquina, a famous bakery with a seemingly endless selection of desserts. The store was pretty small and it was really overwhelming since it was crammed full with people and pastries. I had read about the Nepolitanas, but couldn’t decide if I wanted vanilla cream or chocolate… so I got both! They were incredible!
After our siesta for the day we went out to get some tapas (check them out here). The place we decided to go was rated one of the best tapas bars in Madrid and a lot of people said it had the best sangria they had ever tasted. The amount of food we got was perfect for the three of us to share and everything was delicious.
After eating we wanted to go to a rooftop to watch the sunset. We went to the Circulo de Bellas Artes and got to the top just as the sun started to go down. We spent a few hours on the roof just chatting and watching the sky turn from bright blue to black.
Sunday July 9th
On Sunday we realized that there wasn’t much left on the list of things we wanted to see in Madrid.
We decided to just have a relaxing day and went to the historic flea market, El Rastro, which happens every Sunday in the city. There were streets lined with stands filled with artwork, clothing, tapestries, and more. I got a beautiful tapestry for only six euros. After the market we headed out in search of our last meal in Madrid before heading to the airport. We found a place that served paella on our way back to the hostel and it was the perfect final Spanish dish.
We ended up arriving at the airport almost three hours early and were just hanging out a Starbucks waiting for our gate to be posted when we received a text saying our flight had been canceled. There was no other information and we all promptly began to freak out since we had no idea what to do and actually had to take final exams the next morning in London.
It took us a while to find our way out of the terminal and back to the help desks. Then our almost three hour wait in line at the Easy Jet help desk began. We decided to book an almost 600 euro flight home the next morning after not finding anything that would get us home earlier. At this point we knew we would miss our politics final the next morning and were unsure if Easy Jet would refund us at all for the alternative flight. We were mad, sad, and STRESSED. I would not ever recommend flying with Easy Jet to anyone, especially since another group actually had a similar experience of the airline cancelling a flight without an explanation earlier in the program. Luckily, our politics professor was understanding and said not to worry and that we could take the exam when we returned. After hours of waiting in line we finally talked to a representative that told us we would be refunded the difference in cost between the two flights (which was still annoying considering we were technically paying to get back to London a day later now and had been stressed out for hours at this point). She also said they would put us up at hotel for the night free of charge. The hotel was actually super ritzy and we got a full up-scale buffet free of charge which was a small consolation prize for the whole ordeal.
Monday July 10th
Monday morning we took a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and finally boarded a flight back to London. We arrived without issues and were able to take the Tube from Heathrow right to good old Russel Square. I had time to regroup, eat, and review a little bit before I had to take my theatre exam.
Monday was a little rough between taking an exam, studying for my politics exam I had to make up and working on essays for my other two classes. I stayed in the house most of the day working on things. I also edited this video of our trip to Madrid and my friend Steve Aderton was kind enough to allow me to use his song Forever.
Tuesday July 11th
Tuesday morning I took my politics final. Then I submitted a final essay. I treated myself to half of this giant pizza from Homeslice, as I split it with my friend. The rest of the day I just spent relaxing and finishing up the last essay and group project I had to turn in.