Submitted by Francesca Limjuco, Summer Global Ambassador in Madrid, Spain
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Last weekend, I caught glimpses of the old and new Spain. Here is an account of my cultural and gastronomic discoveries around Madrid over the last few days:
Museo de America – My Colonial History of Latin America class had a field trip in this museum which sits on top of a hill overlooking Madrid. I’d have to say that their most interesting exhibit is the Escenas de Mestizaje. These paintings depicting Spaniards and natives in interracial relationships and their consequent offsprings were painted in South America during the Conquest were popular souvenirs for Spaniards to bring back home. In all honesty, I was slightly offended although amused by them and I told my professor that it reminded me of a bad episode of The Family Guy. It just goes to show that racial jokes have come a long way and will probably never get old so there’s no point in being offended. The only thing curable is ignorance.
Toledo – A day trip to Spain’s former capital is a must to see intercultural influences between the Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The synagogue will make you feel as if you were in a mosque Morocco and the Cathedral which brought together all of Europe’s best artists during the Renaissance will leave the beholder awestruck.
Teatro Joy Eslava – Although exhausted from an entire day of sightseeing, I could not stay at home on a Saturday night! With two friends from Texas, Jennifer and Alicia, we partied until the Metro opened in one of Madrid’s oldest theaters turned night club. We were well taken care of by two muy locas Madrileñas, Jennifer and Olga who is Alicia’s intercambio. I realized that college kids everywhere aren’t that different. We all like American TV shows and we love to dance to European house music.
Palacio Real – I spent the afternoon exploring the Royal Palace. My highlights were the chapel and the Royal Armory with suits dating back from the Crusades.
Although not exactly the weekend anymore, every day seems like Friday in Madrid because there’s always something going on. After class, I wanted a relaxing place to write so I went to Chueca to find a café. Mercado San Antón – There’s an actual market on the first floor where you can pick out raw food, have it cooked however you want it, and served on their beautiful roof top terrace. They also have an international selection of already prepared food on the second floor. I recommend ordering tapa portions from various stalls so you can try a little bit of everything as the prices are reasonable and according to weight. Diurno – My favorite café in Madrid is actually a DVD rental shop. Not only is the coffee great, you get a friendly intellectual vibe. Chueca is Madrid’s gay district but is popular in general with all young locals so people at the next table readily welcome conversation.