Visits from My Other World

Parque del Retiro

This weekend was the first time I had friends studying outside of Madrid come visit me! It was honestly crazy for me to think that I could be somebody’s tour guide, because I still feel like I just got here. However, after six weeks of exploring, it was super exciting to find that I actually did have some sights of Madrid tucked up my sleeve.
I’m a huge fan of eating, so I made it clear that my friends would be very well fed throughout the day. We started off at a very vibey café with great coffee and super yummy snacks. I made sure that my friends ordered a popular favorite: the ‘cheesecake tostada’, which is essentially a toasted piece of sweet toast with cheesecake spread on top, a beautiful berry sauce, and graham cracker crumble. Afterwards, we headed towards CaixaForum, which houses temporary art exhibits. We visited their most recent exhibit, which featured tons of famous Andy Warhol paintings, and we were very amused by the fact that they were selling cans of actual Campbell’s soup in the gift shop. After the museum, we were in the mood for some more food (of course!), so I led us to some nearby tapas. We munched on ham, cheese, toasts, eggs, and roasted veggies until our hearts and stomachs were content.
Because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to take advantage of the sunlight and explore the Retiro park. We wandered towards the Crystal Palace and certainly weren’t the only ones to have a photoshoot in front of the beautiful glass (we sent a lot of the pictures to our moms). We laid in the grass, observed people as they canoed past us in the lake, and generally enjoyed the ideal spring weather in the middle of February. We finished up the day by passing through the Plaza Mayor and grabbing some snacks at the Mercado de San Miguel (I wasn’t kidding about how much we’d be eating). After having walked almost ten miles and eaten around five meals, we definitely were ready for a siesta. However, I made sure to follow up with flamenco show and lunch recommendations for the following day – it’s impossible to do all of Madrid in just one day!
Because I’ve been so caught up in my new adventures here, it was easy for my mind to become distracted from the other incredible people that I have at Tufts and at home. Having my first set of visitors gave me a sense of comfort from familiar faces in an environment in which I am so accustomed to having new experiences and exploring new places. Even though I love the adventure of it all, it felt good to take a breather for a bit, and the experience definitely reenergized me to a large degree. Even though I’ve been in Madrid for a significant amount of time now, this weekend felt like an entirely new experience for me as well by showing my friends my new city! It not only gave me the confidence that I am indeed finding my ground as a ~local~ here, but it also reminded me of the incredible people that I have outside of this new world that I’ve been creating for myself this semester.

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