Yesterday was a long day but so great. I learned a lot about the history of La Plaza del Sol and the surrounding buildings and plazas. Through the school I am at, there are difference guided tours about every other day and I am planning on going on as many as I can. Our group met at Sol at 4:30 and we got paired with a teacher that took us around on a 2 1/2 hour walking tour. It was completely in Spanish but I fortunately I understood the majority of it! I will probably go with the intermediate group next time though, rather than the advance group, so just I can make sure that I get everything that’s being said, because I want to be able to understand and remember everything! It seems like sometimes, when I am listening to Spanish, I am concentrating so much on listening and translating that I don’t remember all that is being said. Anyways, first, our teacher showed us a building that used to be the old post office of Madrid, but now is almost like a city hall. Then she took us to a spot of what used to be the origin of all the major roads in Spain. It is obsolete now but it is still a big tourist attraction. She then took us to La Plaza Mayor. It used to be the main plaza in Madrid, and consisted of a carnecería (meat market) on the right, and a pandería (bakery) on the left. I was surprised that there wasn’t very many people there. Sol is a lot busier now than Mayor. Next was my favorite spot on the tour: El Mercado de San Miguel. This was a fresh market with every kind of fruit, vegetable, and meat you can imagine. We were only able to walk around in there for 10 minutes, but I will definitely be going back because I loved it! The whole thing was surrounded by glass walls and it was beautiful.
We also visited a cathedral that was relatively new, so the architecture and paintings were pretty modern for what you would expect from a huge cathedral. We ended the tour at El palacio real – the royal palace. Next Tuesday our group will be going on a tour inside, so I will get to learn a lot more about it, which I am very excited about. After the tour, our group met at a McDonalds at Sol since they had free wifi (here, they call it wifi too, but they pronounce it differently so it is “wee-fee”). A few of us ended up just eating dinner there since we had to meet for the flamenco performance 30 minutes later. I kind of felt bad eating at a McDonalds while I should have been trying new things and eating the local food, but after paying almost 20 euro the night before, I was keen on getting some cheap food.
We then went to a restaurant and watched a flamenco performance. It was so unique and beautiful, and loud! Those dancers were so talented and I was so impressed with the whole thing. I wish I could have taken videos, but we were only allowed to take pictures, a lot of which are blurry since they were moving so quickly! I am so glad that our group had the opportunity to see flamenco – it’s such an important part of the culture here, and a trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete with out it!
Afterwards I went home to bed because I was exhausted! Because we had the tour in the afternoon, I didn’t get a chance to have a siesta after school, so I was more than ready for bed. It was hard for me to keep my eyes open even during the flamenco, which is saying something because it was so loud and entertaining!