That was the chant that hundreds of thousands of people were screaming, yelling, singing, and probably just mouthing on Monday evening at La plaza de las Cibeles in downtown Madrid. The soccer team had just won the “Eurocopa 2012,” with a win over Italy of 4-0, so thousands and thousands of fans and some tourists (like myself) were there waiting for the bus that would bring the players. You have to be there to feel and understand the electricity and enthusiasm of everyone, from the little ones to the grandparents – it was spectacular. Maybe some would think that is so trivial, but I believe that you have to live and be part of the life that the city you are studying abroad has to offer.
Before we went to the celebración, we went to El Museo del Prado with one of the professors from la fundación. We are learning about the Austrias and the Borbones, so what better way to learn than to admire the paintings that were made during their time. We stopped at “Las Meninas” by Velazquez, and we had the best explanation of a piece of art that I have ever heard. Just being there made the trip so worthwhile, so please, if you come to Madrid, you have to stop at El Prado – and not just once, but several times, because it has so much to offer that you cannot take in everything in just one visit.
This past weekend was our free weekend, meaning there were no planned visits or field trips; we were on our own. Some students went to Barcelona, others stayed in Madrid, and I went to Segovia. Segovia is a city in Spain, of course, that is well known for its aqueduct. In fact, the UNESCO declared them both – the city and its aqueduct – World Heritage. Segovia is really pretty, but the aqueduct is absolutely breathtaking, and knowing that it was built during the Roman Empire probably in the 1st century, and that they used granite blocks, without mortar, and it is still there, leaves you speechless.
This time I will write about drinks. Of course you need to try the Sangria and the Tinto de Verano, and las cañas (draft beer), and so on, but there is also one that you should really, really try: Horchata. There are many varieties of horchatas, depending on where you are at the moment: Mexico will use rice, Malta uses almonds, France uses barley, Puerto Rico uses sesame seeds, but in Spain, they use “chufas.” Chufas in English is tigernut, which is as strange to me as chufa, but let me tell you, it is a tuber that is grounded, water and sugar added, and then it is ready to drink, just fantastic. There are references since the end of the XVIII century of the recipe of that fantastic drink, and some of them even mention about healing powers.
¡A su salud!