So, spring break just happened. And it was amazing. I love Prague, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been pretty chilly, even at the end of April. The temperature is just starting to hit the mid-fifties. So last month, when my roommate and I started planning our spring break, I was super excited to be trading the icy streets of Prague for the sun of Spain.
My roommate and I started out our trip by taking a flight from Prague to Barcelona. Both of us, being huge Disney Channel fans, were super excited to see where the magic happened in Cheetah Girls 2. We flew into Barcelona in the afternoon, and spent the rest of the day exploring parts of the city. We saw the Sagrada Familia, an iconic Barcelonian church. We also ventured to Park Guell, where the iconic song “Strut” was filmed. Unfortunately, we needed tickets to get to the grand staircase of Park Guell, and it was sold out for days. But we saw a beautiful house designed by Antoni Gaudi called Casa Battlo (pronounced “Bye-yo”) full of eccentric and colorful touches. And we ended our day in a tapas restaurant in the food court-like place called El Nacional. Our second day was just as eventful, with a tour of the gothic quarter and a visit to the palace of the Guell family. We ended the day by seeing the magic fountain of Barcelona, but it started drizzling midway through the show.
Fun fact about Barcelona: they don’t speak Spanish (Castellano) but rather, Catalan, seeing as Barcelona is in the region of Catalonia. Also, they have a very intense rivalry with Madrid (especially when it comes to their football teams, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid).
After spending two days in Barcelona, my roommate and I flew into Madrid. We had the afternoon there before we took a bus to the historical city of Toledo. We spent the afternoon at Puerta del Sol, an spacious square in Madrid. Right off the square is a food market called Mercado de San Miguel. If you’re in Madrid for only a short time, I recommend spending an hour here. It’s an artisan food court, essentially, where you get tapas. It’s probably the best place to try a variety of Spanish (and non-Spanish) foods.
We took an hour long bus ride to Toledo following our afternoon in Madrid. Toledo is a city straight out of a fairytale; take away the conveniences of modern technology and it feels like you’ve been transported 500 years in the past. It’s a walled city with maze-like streets, so we spent most of our time seeing monuments and trying not to get lost.
After a day and a half in Toledo, we took a bus back to Madrid, where we spent the rest of our break. We saw the western side on one day and the eastern on another. It’s hard to really explain what Madrid is like. It’s definitely less “European” than Barcelona. But surprisingly, it’s very much like New York, except everything is in Spanish. In my opinion, Madrid is an amalgamation of styles and eras but still very modern. It’s definitely worth seeing, and was my favorite Spanish city out of the ones we visited. After going shopping one morning, my roommate told me that she forgot she wasn’t in New York. It’s so different, but so similar to home. The highlights of Madrid were definitely the tours we took, and also Museo Nacional del Prado, where we saw the famous Black Paintings by Goya.
We finished our break in Madrid and then boarded a flight back to Prague. While it was definitely comforting to be back in the city that has been my home for the past three months, there’s a part of my heart (as cheesy as it sounds) that will always be in Spain.