Well, after a pretty successful and very busy first week here in Madrid, we finally got a chance to explore some of the city and all that it has to offer. This weekend started off with a great dinner of tapas – small Spanish dishes such as jamon iberico and Lashlee’s favorite: croquetas – in the beautiful Plaza Santa Ana. We had an early morning on Saturday as we made our way to the train station in Atocha for a day trip to Toledo, one of Spain’s most historic locations and only a 30-minute train ride outside of Madrid. After a few minor difficulties with train tickets and such, we were able to make our way to the city for a wonderful day of sightseeing.

At the Toledo Cathedral

We started off our trip to Toledo with a picnic after purchasing a few items from a small grocery store and then made our way to the city’s famous – and absolutely gorgeous – cathedral. The Catedral de Toledo is one of the top 5 cathedrals in Europe and took over 260 years to construct. It offers some of the most beautiful and ornate artwork of its time, including an incredible display of art from El Greco and Goya. The works were all stunning, and we were amazed by the detail and obvious devotion of the people who dedicated their lives to the church. After the cathedral, we also toured an art museum and synagogue before making our way back to the train station.

When we arrived back in Madrid around 10, we were definitely pleased with the trip. But starving. We tried to find a place to grab a quick bite to eat, but luckily found a place that turned out to be our best meal in Madrid thus far. Our waiter was extremely helpful and patiently described several items on the menu – very little of which we could understand. We had some incredible lomo and all sorts of delicious tapas before heading back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.

Sunday also provided some exciting tourist opportunities, but this time in the city of Madrid itself. We are fortunate to know several other students from SMU who are currently studying abroad in Europe through various programs, and last night we were able to meet up with a few friends to attend our first bullfight in Ventas.

The show featured six bullfights, and it was a spectacular event rich in history and Spanish tradition. The crowd was so passionate about the fights, and the matadors were obviously very dedicated to their style and trade.

Hannah enjoying churros

To finish off an incredible evening, we enjoyed dinner at El Museo de Jamon (We have never encountered so much ham as we have in this country. It’s everywhere.), and then a trip to the Chocolateria de San Gines. San Gines is quickly becoming one of our favorite destinations – it serves some of the city’s best churros and hot drinking chocolate. So good!

Well, I think that’s all for now. Tomorrow is our last day in Madrid before we leave for Algeciras, so we hope to send another update about our research and work in the city tomorrow. Hasta luego!