Before arriving in Madrid, I knew that I definitely wanted to travel. In my mind, that meant jetting off and having crazy European adventures in places like Barcelona, Italy, Copenhagen, etc. However, after settling in for a bit, I realized that I had totally overlooked an aspect of travel that has given me some of my coolest memories yet: day trips!
My first day trip was a rather impromptu hiking trip into Cercedilla, which is a small town that people from Madrid flock to when they want to hike, ski, or even go snowshoeing (fun fact: Madrid apparently is the European capital in which skiing is the most accessible – there are three ski resorts nearby!) I took the cercanías, which is Madrid’s regional rail system, with two friends, and within an hour I had left the rather flat city of Madrid in which snow is definitely a rarity and found myself among snowcapped mountains.
The day was completely spontaneous, as we got off the train knowing very little about where the hiking trails would lead and how to even find them. However, after meandering into someone’s hotel room by accident (oops!), making friends and playing rock-paper-scissors with a young boy and his older brother, and meeting possibly the fluffiest dog I’ve ever seen, we finally made it onto the trail we were looking for. We ended up hiking for 14 miles and found the Mirador Los Poetas, which was a beautiful viewpoint that overlooked the mountain range. I had never thought that I could find a view like that so close to Madrid, and was so at peace and happy (while also pretty exhausted!) as I ate my Iberian ham sandwich while waiting for the train to take me back home.
My second day trip was a 30-minute train ride into the city of Segovia, which felt like a trip back in time! Upon entering the main part of the city, I immediately came upon the towering aqueducts that are Segovia’s main claim to fame. We were able to climb up the aqueducts to get a better look (and have a small photoshoot), and it was amazing to recognize just how long they have been standing. Afterwards, we explored the city a bit more in the Cathedral and the Alcázar. While we were walking around, it began to lightly snow, which made the ancient city look even more magical. While exploring the Alcázar, I truly felt as if I was in a medieval castle, and couldn’t believe that I was only 30 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Madrid’s Gran Vía and Puerta del Sol. I could’ve wandered the streets of Segovia for hours, but sadly it was time for us to catch our train back to Madrid.
Even though I definitely plan to travel through Europe throughout this semester, I’ve come to realize how many hidden gems exist so close to me. An adventure is so easy to find nearby, and I’m so excited to have even more as I spend more time in Madrid!
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