“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
― Gustave Flaubert
Exploring London has certainly become one of my biggest hobbies; every day I try to visit a new site I have not been to while I try to learn the most out of it. All these new locations are then added to a personal list I have created so that I can have some sort of personal record. Though I am studying abroad in London and I believe making the most out of this wonderful opportunity, it does not mean that you cannot make plans and accommodate a trip to a nearby country. As long as you try to plan ahead, buy your tickets on time and finish all the assignments that need to be turned in before or during the trip, you should be good to go and explore places that you have been considering on visiting.
This weekend I decided to go to Madrid, Spain, to meet with three great friends of mine I have not seen in years. One of them was coming all the way from Berlin to see us so this weekend seemed really promising and full of fun. To be honest, it has been the best weekend I have had in my time abroad with CIEE and although I got home at 3 AM and had class the following day, I have zero regrets about it. The first day I got there, my friends Diego and Alice picked me up at the airport last Friday around 9 PM and dropped me in my Airbnb; we then spent the whole night catching up and 3 years felt like nothing. The following day, we explored the whole city in a day thanks to Diego, who knew every single route and place in Madrid and was better than any other guide we could ask for. To tell you how good it was, we walked the whole day for 8 hours and reached 17 miles at the end of the day which covered more than 25 of the touristic places, including the famous Parque El Retiro (think of the Central Park of Madrid). Then on Sunday, we spent the whole morning going through the biggest flea market in the city and explored the central part of Madrid and its famous neighborhood "Lavapies," The day continued we a Senegalese lunch, which frankly tasted like heaven! After lunch, we met some friends and spent the rest of the day hanging out around the city. The last day of this trip, we decided to take it slowly and we took a nap in El Retiro park and only visited the famous museum Reina Sofia, where you can see Pablo Picasso's famous painting "La Guernica" and other famous artists like Salvador Dali. We then had dinner and our friend Diego drove us to the airport.
Although we walked more than 70 miles in 4 days, a journey is best measured in friends rather than miles. This weekend trip was definitely a way for me to stay away from busy London while visiting my long-distance friends and being able to spend a few days with them is something I would not trade for anything. I am grateful that I was able to see them while I study abroad in London with CIEE.