This past weekend I flew to Madrid, Spain! By far, it was the most relaxing, delicious, culturally diverse and magical weekend I’ve had during my semester abroad.
Christina and I arrived at Tasmin’s late Friday night. After dropping our bags, Tasmin shared delicious Manchego cheese and bread. Using this rare opportunity to catch up face to face with one of my closest friends, we reminisced on our incredible summer at Yahoo! and recent tech news. Once we got it out of our systems, I took pleasure in purging myself from all work related topics for the remainder of the weekend-fully embracing the city and Spanish culture. Contrasted to London’s fast-pace business and theatre culture I’ve been surrounded by lately, Madrid was a healthy dose of relaxation and warm weather.
Friday night Tasmin invited us to an apartment party with some of her Spanish friends. Upon entering the apartment, I was greeted by 8 Spanish boys kissing me on both cheeks and speaking animatedly in Spanish. I suddenly realized for the 100th time this semester – America is not the center of the world and it is my duty to become a knowledgable global citizen, continuing to learn and interact with the world around me.
Straight out of one of my Menlo Spanish class assignments, attending this party forced me to brush up on my Spanish skills. I was surprised how much Spanish I accurately remembered. Asking questions like “what TV shows do you watch?” “what are your favorite Spanish foods?” “what are you studying in university?” seemed to dominate our conversations. Ironically, the boys seemed eager to try out their sparse English with Christina and me. But by using hand motions and exaggerated faces, we discovered a humorous mix of our conversation topics.
The next morning, Tasmin took us to a local coffee shop to try a typical Spanish tortilla and coffee. I was skeptical to enter this run-down shop, but instantly changed my mind after digging into delicious potatoes and eggs covered in two types of salsa.
Next, we took the metro to the center of the city and leisurely walked around for a few hours. Taking advantage of the warm Spanish sunshine, we stayed outdoors while my happiness continued to escalate.
All the while, I noticed a slight change in Tasmin’s demeanor. In the summer months at Yahoo!, we ran around Sunnyvale, inhaling coffee, attending meetings and constantly chatting about the future of technology. But in Madrid, Tasmin easily fell into the relaxed pulse of the city. I watched her casually mimic everyone around her; strolling around Madrid, sitting and smiling. Even our customer service was laxidazical and calm. No one seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere or do anything for that matter. Some small part of me realized that life in London and Boston’s quick paced city has changed me – and maybe I could use a dose of warm weather living.
While continuing to be a perfect tour guide and translator, Tasmin brought us to the most amazing market. Indulging ourselves, we slowly devoured creamy salmon and caviar, red wine, and 8 different types of cheeses. turning to the sweets section, we split a rich macaroon, chocolate cake and caramelized pine nuts. Continuing to people watch and stroll around the small side streets and cobble stones, we ended the afternoon by enjoying ice-cold glasses of Sangria.
That night we went to a “posh club” in the center of Madrid. We left Tasmin’s apartment at 1am and didn’t return until 5:30am!
On Sunday we walked around a huge outdoor flea market “El Rastro”. Then we had a delicious tapas lunch. Shrimp, mushrooms, foi gras, duck, vegetables, jam, carmelized onions all covered in cheese on toasted bread. Next, slowly dipped sugared churros in liquid chocolate. (Photos speak for themselves) Finally, we concluded our perfect weekend by walking through the El Retiro park, gazing at the lakes sparkling reflection and breathing in the warm air.
Much thanks to Tasmin for sharing her abroad world.