A weekend to the Spanish Capital

Programs for this blog post

Spanish Language & Culture

Authored By:

Ryan VanSant

After their busy first week of arrival, orientation, classes and projects, our Global Navigator Alicantinos spent a weekend in the bustling capital of Spain, Madrid. Madrid became the Spanish capital in 1561 after moving from Toledo, a small city close to Madrid. The name Madrid actually comes from the Arabic name Mayra, a place of water, and eventually evolved to Matrit and finally to the one we know today, Madrid. 

Madrid has an incredibly rich history and the navigators were able to experience all that Madrid has to offer. To begin their trip, they presented their projects, reflected on their first week with their program leaders and boarded the bus for a 5 hour journey to the capital. 

Upon arrival in Madrid, they checked into the Generator hostel, rested for a few minutes and then completed a walking tour of the most emblematic sites Madrid has to offer. This tour included the Plaza Mayor, La Puerta del Sol, La Calle Mayor, Gran Vía and even the world’s most famous chocolate and churros location, San Ginés, a spot that many went to in their free time! The students were given free time to explore the city and find a place to eat for dinner. Many had typical spanish cuisine such as tortilla española, churros and chocolate and even jamón. 

Saturday was a jam packed day filled with fun and learning. Our navigators began their day with a yummy breakfast at the hostel then prepared for a bike tour at the city's most famous park, El Retiro. El Retiro is a major location for tourists and locals alike; a green paradise in the metropolitan zone. After getting acquainted with their bikes, they set out on a scavenger hunt around the park to its most iconic destinations such as the pond, the crystal palace and the many beautiful fountains. At the end, the team who won the scavenger hunt by completing the most points through games such as dance-offs, monkey bar challenges and races won the title as well as some chuches, or candy. 

They sure worked up an appetite after the bike tour so they headed to an all you can eat buffet that served typical spanish food as well as some of our western delights. We rested a few moments then took a walk to our next destination, the Prado Museum, but be sure that we stopped for an ice cream to help fight off the city heat. 

The Prado is one of the world's most famous museums and houses many paintings by the famous Spanish artists Goya, Velazquez and Picasso. Our tour included the paintings The Second and Third of May and perhaps the most famous painting, Las Meninas by Velazquez, the personal artist for the court of Spain. After the tour finished, students enjoyed an evening free to tour, sitesee, shop and enjoy the gastronomic paradise that is Madrid. 

Sunday we woke up early for breakfast to then take a tour of the Royal Palace, the official seat of the King and Queen of Spain. The palace has over 3000 rooms and was inspired by Versailles. Our lunch consisted of a buffet and then we boarded the bus back to Alicante. It’s safe to say our Global Navigators were exhausted but ended up loving Madrid!