Hey, guess who came to visit me (a month ago…)!
Yes, worlds collided
about a month ago when my parents came to visit me in Madrid. I crossed a lot of milestones while I was away, traveling to/living in Europe for the first time, turning 21, speaking a foreign language, coordinating international travel plans and a whole bunch of others things all by myself. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, but I didn’t realize just how much I missed my parents until I saw them standing in my new home country.
Fortunately, they had booked a hotel right near school, so when we met up on Friday morning, I showed them where I had been doing all my “studying”…
It had been a long overnight flight for them (and a long Thursday night for me) so we spent the afternoon catching up and strolling around Parque del Buen Retiro, which was a perfect way to incorporate some natural beauty and history of Madrid with my mom’s love for gardens and flowers.
We started in the Banco de España metro area and I showed them my favorite building in Madrid, the Ayuntamiento as the sun was setting. I just can’t get over how beautiful Madrid is at any and all hours of the day.
From there, we walked up and down Gran Vía, which is the only real “New York City-esque” part of Madrid. There are theaters, shops, hotels, luxury stores, and restaurants EVERYWHERE and up and down every side street you pass.
After that, we took the metro back to the hotel, and enjoyed the self-serve open bar (perks of parental visits) and then went to Dona 59 for dinner, based on the concierge’s EXCELLENT recommendation. I got paella, Dad (daringly) got squid ink paella, and my mom got a tuna and avocado dish that I kept “trying.” We went back to “The Club” for dessert, which included chocolate-covered strawberries, cookies, fruit, and “dessert shots” which were creamy coffee or fruit-flavored deliciousness served in a shot glass. It’s amazing how different traveling abroad can be when you’re not on a student budget…
Luckily for a true Madrileña like me, I didn’t have to end my night around midnight because my dear friend Madison was in town! I met up with a group of my friends at Dubliners in Sol and got chocolate and churros at St. Ginès Chocolatería with them after. It was so great to see Madison (who is studying in Strasbourg, France), I miss that chica.
The next day, I had breakfast at “The Club” with my parents. Eggs, ham, fresh orange juice, espresso, pineapple, these yummy red pepper things and several other goodies was a huge step up from traditional Spanish homestay breakfast of sugarless cereal and coffee.
I got a guidebook before I left for Spain, and thankfully it included a “Self-Guided Walking Tour” around Sol and Plaza Mayor. PERFECTO. (Gracias, Rick Steves.)
Rick Steves’ Self-Guided Walking Tour:
- Puerta del Sol– Spain’s city center.
- Plaza Mayor– 17th-century cobblestone plaza.
- Mercado de San Miguel– Stations of gourmet tapas, perfect for a snack or a meal.
- Church and Convent of Corpus Christi– Charming old Hieronymite church where cloistered nuns sell sweets (closed when we went, but still on my bucket list).
- Town Hall– Madrid’s ceremonial Town Hall from the time of Philip II, when the capital was located in nearby Toledo.
- Almudena Cathedral– It took 100 years to build, and the colorful ceiling and 5,000-pipe organ are worth the peek inside.
- Royal Palace– Closed due to the holiday.
- Plaza de Oriente– Spaniards sure love their plazas…
- Plaza de Isabel II– Not déjà vu, keep reading.
- St. Ginès Chocolatería– We stopped here for churros, my second time in 24 hours.
- Joy Eslava Disco– Old-style theater turned nightclub.
- Back to Sol.
After all THAT, it was time for a siesta, so we headed back to the hotel and passed out for a little bit, then went to a restaurant for gourmet roasted lamb and potatoes, more wine (obviously) and then some anisette dessert liqueur. YUM.
We went back to “The Club” and talked some more. Whenever it’s just my parents and I, I always feel more grown up, and it was really nice to be able to show them how well I had adjusted to living in a foreign country and having to speak a different language every day. Of course, I did miss my siblings too… just a little.
That night, I went off to Kapital, the 7-floor dance club with different music on each floor to meet up with some friends. I have yet to find anywhere else in Europe that can top Kapital, and I don’t think I ever will.
On Sunday, after another delicious breakfast with my parents, we went to the Prado Museum, where I was able to explain some of the art I learned about in class, and then we walked around the city some more, stopping for a bocadillo de jamón y queso cut right off the leg, just like my dad wanted.
After another quick siesta, we went out to dinner where I had a delicious mozzarella cheeseburger and we all got chocolate cake. We met some older American women who had been traveling around the north of Spain, completing a portion of the religious pilgrimage Camino de Santiago. Meeting them and hearing their stories reminded me that even though I go home in December, the end of study abroad doesn’t have to be the end of my travels. I slept in the hotel room with my parents that night, and after they left in the morning I ate breakfast at “The Club” and then walked a block over to school at 10:30 am.
My parents went off to Barcelona for a few days on their own, but I am SO happy I got to spend so much time with them in my home city! They came at the perfect time for the perfect amount of time, and I’m happy that they were able to see at least a few reasons why I love this city so much.