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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Serenades With Opera Music – Barcelona PCE

PCE checks in after a weekend in Madrid!

The Westcoast Blogger

Que fin de semana! What a weekend we had in beautiful, sunny Madrid!
We arrived in Madrid Friday afternoon after an enjoyable bus ride down the Spanish Autoroute. We finally had the chance to catch up on some much needed rest in order to re-energize for our jam packed weekend in Spain’s fabulous capital city.
We checked into our gorgeous hotel: Hotel Opera, situated just around the corner from Madrid’s Opera House and steps away from the Palacio Real (the Royal Palace). It was the perfect location within walking distance to all the major downtown sights and other areas we had planned to explore over the weekend.
We quickly settled into our ultra modern hotel rooms (complete with glass showers and flat screen TVs!) and headed down towards the Royal Palace to explore our first sight in Madrid. We were impressed with the amazing architecture of the palace grounds, and the incredible greenery and upkeep of the palace gardens. We snapped a group photo in front of the palace courtyard gates and continued on our journey to the Placa Major, one of Madrid’s oldest city centre meeting grounds. Although it was already well into early evening, the sun was still beaming down strong, so we were given some free time to explore the many ins and outs of the downtown core surrounding the Placa.
Rosie, Amanda and Jen discovered some of their favorite shops just a few side streets over, while Micky and Darren snapped photos of the many street performers scattered throughout the Placa and Steph, Sara and Stacy found a nearby gelato joint to cool off! Next, it was off to enjoy some delicious South American cuisine at a nearby restaurant ¨El Colonia del Sacramento¨. Everything was cooked on a giant open BBQ, which Austin was invited to practice his grilling skills by the head chef for all to watch. We were delighted by the amazing fresh salads and grilled chicken! Luke, Matt and Dylan especially enjoyed their first taste of BBQ’d red meat in Spain.
After dinner we all headed down to another one of Madrid’s central meeting spots, the Placa del Sol. We split into smaller groups to complete an audio-visual scavenger hunt the program leaders had prepared. Each group was provided a list of about 10 tasks they needed to complete within the incredibly bustling and crowded square to capture on video or picture with their cameras. The scavenger hunt list included funny tasks such as ¨recreate a famous work of art¨ and ¨ask a local for directions to the nearest Taco Bell in Spanish¨. Ben, Christin and Justin recreated Michelangelo’s ¨La Pieta¨ and Alana endured a public marriage proposal in front of a local crowd. We all enjoyed a few laughs when we reconvened back at the Placa and shared our hilarious and embarrassing stories, videos and pics.
The next day we ventured up Gran Via, Madrid’s main avenue, to lunch in a super trendy shopping district called ¨Chueca¨. Nicole, Lisa and Emma explored the nearby shops, while Cale and Mike lunched on some bocadillos at a local cafe and Pauline, Carly and Deni managed to find some unique Spanish boutiques in the area. By contrast to the hot morning, we spent the afternoon cooling off while skiing, boarding and tubing at the indoor slopes at Xanadu, one of 3 indoor slopes in the world!
With a chance to recuperate from our hot and cold day, we got dressed up for dinner at one of Madrid’s best restaurants ¨La Favorita¨ where waiters serenaded us with opera music while we enjoyed dessert. We took turns playing the piano situated in our own private dining room upstairs and headed back to the hotel exhausted and full!
The next morning it was up early to wander the long hallways of the Prado museum, the world’s greatest collection of Spanish art, displaying classics such as ¨El Greco¨, Velázquez’s ¨Las Meninas¨ and Goya’s Pinturas Negras (from his dark period). We spent the afternoon at Parque Bien Retiro, Madrid´s equivalent of Central Park, where hundreds of locals were gathered on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy the greenery and take shelter in the shade of its enormous trees. We hopped aboard some rowboats to cruise the central lake in the park. Harrison lounged on the bow while his fellow lady rowers skippered him around the lake by oar, while Jared took a similar approach and relaxed in the sun to work on his tan!
Then it was back to Barcelona for another exciting week of classes and activities. We have a lot coming up this week including a visit to Parque Guell and the Museo Picasso. This morning we elected Ellie as ¨La Reina del Dia¨! This afternoon it’s off to Barcelonetta beach to take advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather after a few rainy days last week! Que Suerte!