At the beginning of this semester, my long time friend Kate visited me in Italy--we spent a killer weekend in Rome, monument/church-hopping. Kate is currently studying abroad in Madrid, living in a homestay and taking classes towards her Human Rights major. She came to Italy to see me, so naturally I flew to Spain to see her in return.
Madrid was not at all what I was expecting. Most of the big cities I've been to are in Italy, like Rome and Florence. Don't get me wrong, Italian cities are plenty large, with more things to see that I can even dream of covering in a semester; but, the thing about places like Florence and Rome is that they feel small. The cobblestone side streets wind around and around the internal geography, and practically anywhere is within walking distance.
As a city, Madrid is massive. Kate and I took the metro nearly everywhere we went, hopping from line to line, endlessly squeezing into the subway cars. Traveling by foot was a thing of the past. Parts of Madrid almost feel like a European New York City, with huge parks and tall buildings. The Parque del Retiro, which might as well have been Central Park, was my personal favorite spot to walk around. In the center of the park was a gorgeous glass house surrounded by autumn foliage.
Madrid was the one city I visited this semester where I really didn't do anything toursity, but instead went around with Kate to her favorite neighborhoods, cafés, bars, markets, and parks. I got to have a bit of a taste of what it would have been like to study abroad in a big city, as opposed to Orvieto. We did visit the Almudena Cathedral, which was just stunning--and so new! I couldn't believe how recent the artwork was. After seeing mostly Baroque and Renaissance art in Italy, a contemporary cathedral was quite the treat. Overall, I loved seeing Kate again, and seeing this beautiful city through her perspective.