A Weekend to Remember While Studying Abroad in Madrid

During the first few weeks of classes during my study abroad program, CEA CAPA provided students with excursions to go places and participate in different local activities. One of them was a weekend trip to Madrid, and when I saw that opportunity, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I felt that going on the trip would allow me to learn about a new part of Spain and discover how the nation’s capital is similar and different from Barcelona, where I spent over two months. 

A wide shot of the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.

The Arrival 

As soon as I set foot in Madrid, it felt like I stepped into a whole new world. The shift in atmosphere was undeniable. The buildings had this striking blend of modernity and tradition, and I was amazed by how effortlessly this balance was achieved. 

While exploring the city’s art museums was the focus, a few other activities made my experience special. 

Exploring Madrid’s Culinary World 

For me, visiting a new city always calls for trying out its food. I had the pleasure of doing so with some friends, and we had a great time. 

La Casa del Abuelo and Chocolatería San Ginés 

A group of study abroad students standing in front of a store

Outside the historic Chocolatería San Ginés in Madrid. 

The shop has been around since 1894, so it’s safe to say they know more than a little bit about chocolate! We were served hot chocolate with a thick texture in mugs, and the churros were nice and crispy creating a delicious combo. 

While inside, I spotted photos of the late great Diego Maradona—the Argentine soccer legend —and other celebrities paying a visit way back when, and that told me that we were in a really special place. After eating the delicious food, I understood why the lines were long—we waited at least 15 minutes to get inside, and then a few more before placing our order. But it was so worth it! 

Museums in Madrid 

Real Madrid Football Museum 

Growing up, it wasn’t lost on me how big of a club Real Madrid (or Los Blancos) were globally. So, walking through the club’s entire history was a great experience. It was interesting to learn about some of the superstars that donned the club’s famous white jersey. 

A poster of a football team

Poster of Real Madrid football and basketball superstars posing, taken in the Real Madrid shop. 

Zinedine Zidane was among them, and it was such a treat seeing the iconic red and black Adidas boots that he used to play in on display. He was such a skillful player, and his name often comes up when people discuss some of the best soccer players of all time. 

A wall with a picture of a football player

Display of Zinedine Zidane’s career highlights and Adidas’s iconic red and black soccer boots. 

One of my most memorable experiences was getting to sit inside Real Madrid’s stadium. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the view was despite not being in one of the seats closer to the pitch. 

A group of people sitting in a stadium

Inside the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

As I’ve spent more time in Spain, I noticed that my interest in museums grew tremendously. I found that I’m particularly drawn to contemporary art that has multiple meanings and interpretations. 

A sculpture in front of a building

Artsy Entrance to the Reina Sofia Museum.

So, when I saw Ángeles Santos’s ‘‘Un mundo’’ I was in awe. Our tour guide, Jaime, explained to us that Santos had asked her father to buy the biggest canvas he could find—one that’d allow her to create the piece many admire today. 

What amazes me about the painting are what appear to be paradoxes. For instance, on the bottom right, there are people playing instruments. One would think their sounds would be soothing to all, but not in this case. Because among the instrumentalists are people whose body language suggests that they are anything but happy. I was also fascinated by the balance of light and darkness from the top of the canvas to the bottom. 

A painting of a city

Ángeles Santos’ ‘‘Un mundo’’ at the Reina Sofia Museum.

Roaming The Streets of Madrid 

We also had the chance to visit the iconic Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor which, at every turn, offered cuisine and shopping experiences of all kinds. During our guided tour, we learned that every New Year’s Eve, it is the central location for people to practice the Spanish tradition of ringing in a new year by eating 12 grapes at midnight. In some of the Spanish classes I took many years ago, I heard about this fascinating practice, and it felt really special being right where it’s lived out year after year. 

A study abroad student standing in a plaza with Plaza Mayor, Madrid in the background

Until Next Time 

As my peers and I left Madrid by train, I felt grateful for the chance to visit such an iconic city. While I didn’t get to see every attraction—I would have needed way more time—I learned a lot from the places I passed through. I’d definitely like to come back in the future, and maybe ring in the new year the Spanish way! 

Christopher Olusayo (Sayo) Adeniji is the Content Creator – Blogger in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently studying at Hofstra University.


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