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Student Report: John Scobey, Madrid, 2011

Visiting Spain


July 9, 2011

John Scobey
John Scobey: As a junior in civil engineering, he studied Spanish language and culture in Madrid, Spain.

So I need to to tell you about Thursday, Friday, and a little about this weekend’s adventures. Thursday was a normal school day but Friday was a half day. La Universidad de Antonio Nebrija only has classes in the morning on Fridays so that it can offer field trips during the afternoon. Friday afternoon, we went to El Museo del Prado where we were guided by my Spanish Culture teacher who explained each painting in great detail in English! We saw works from famous artists including Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, Titian, Rubens, and Bosch.

I’ll get back to chronological order. On Thursday afternoon, after a short siesta, we (the people who can’t get enough touring a guided walking tours) went on another walking tour of Madrid de Los 31Borbones. This tour included walking through El Parquet Retiro, walking down Calle del Prado, and ending at Cibelles. We learned that Retiro Park was built by King Phillip II so that he could go hunting on the weekends and take brief vacations from his other lifestyle which I’m sure was filled was laborious chores…not! The park (350 acres) contains approximately 25,000 trees, a small man made rectangular lake that was made by King Phillip II so that he could have marine battles with competitors, a fishing lake, and the only memorial in the world that is dedicated to the devil – the Fountain of the Fallen Angel which so happens to be located 666 meters above sea level.

John Scobey and Another Student in Front of StatueLater, we sat down at a sidewalk cafe where I ordered a zumo de naranja which is fresh orange juice made on the spot. We later went home for dinner and I went to bed at a very decent time.

Friday, we had school, went to the Prado Museum (which I’m going to go back to so I can hear it all for a second time), had lunch, and then met up again at Cienfuegos Motaditos which is a great place that we’ve found where we can all casually reunite forces. After un tint de verano, we went to a monastery where we ordered cookies. On our last walking tour, we were told that the monks had a business where they sold small pastries to earn a little money. This is something that most people would never know about. We walked up to this huge door in a back alley, pressed the button and the door opened. We walked through several other doors where we ordered our food. The al is that they can’t make eye contact with you. So they show you what they’ve got by passing it out to to you and then you decided what you want and then pay for it by sliding the money under a little closed panel. It was all very strange. I never shut any if the doors completely as I entered so that I could flee in the case of an emergency. Bottom line, I did it more the experience than for the cookies. The cookies were good and haven’t died yet.

Later we visited the Templo de Debod which was an Egytian temple constructed around 125 B.C. and then brought to Spain in the 1960’s so that a dam could be constructed on the southern part of the Nile River in Egypt. Afterwards, we then spent the rest of the evening eating a little bit here and there as the Spaniards do. The first stop was KFC where I ordered a 44 oz. soft drink for the equivalent of $4 followed by El Museo de Jamon where we ordered bocadillos and a jarra (pitcher) of sangria followed by an ice cream at McDonalds.

We are now on the bus to Toledo where we will tour and spend the night. Tomorrow we will continue our touring in El Escorial. Monday we’ll return to Madrid for school.

I’ve noticed here that the transportation system is very very nice. The Spanish government has done a great job with not only the metro but the bus system as well. The buses usually make connections when the metro can’t get you there as quickly. The buses come at least every seven minutes and are clean and comfortable. There are even some one way roads where there is one lane that goes the opposite direction for buses. Im sure the government is doing this to promote public mass transportation as opposed to everyone driving cars. Each Thursday, there is a huge cycling event where thousands of bikers hog up the roadways to demand more bike lanes. We are going to rent bikes and ride with them in two weeks.