UCLA in España

I finally finished up my travels this past weekend with a trip to visit friends who are studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. After trekking around Paris, London, and Luxembourg, my friend Sasha and I had a few days of rest before hopping on a tiny plane that took us across the border into the land of tapas and sangria. We were lucky enough to be visiting Madrid at the same time as another American who is studying in Lyon, too, so the three of us had a nice plane ride and she helped us figure out Madrid’s metro system after our flight got in.

On Thursday night when we arrived, we met up with Sasha’s sophomore year roommate who took us out for our first taste of Spanish food – cheese, bread, potatoes, and lots and lots of ham. The night continued with more food, some delicious tinto de verano (which was kind of like a carbonated sangria), and meeting some of the other UCers in the Madrid program. It was too fun; I met some from Santa Barbara, Davis, and a handful from UCLA. At this point, my friend Michelle was able to meet up with the group. Michelle is one of my coworkers in the campus tours program, and it was great to reminisce and look forward to seeing the other guides after our programs finish.

Friday and Saturday were spent with Sasha’s cousin who lives in Spain with his wife. He toured us around the Spanish countryside and took us to two small towns (one of which has a castle that helped inspire Disney’s Cinderlla castle). We ate magnificent (and very meaty) meals of pork, leg of lamb, and fish. We even got to eat in an old monastery that served food traditionally eaten by the Spanish monks. Genial.

It was nice to see some of Spain outside its capital city, but Sunday we got to spend the entire day just exploring Madrid. Our UCLA buddies took us to Madrid’s huge Sunday market, we stopped by the arboretum in the Atocha railroad station, we rowboated in the huge park, and we finished up our day by sharing a pitcher of the tastiest sangria. Sasha and I weren’t quite ready to head back to our hostel even though our friends had to go the homestays for dinner, so we went to another restaurant for more tinto de verano and tapas and grabbed some churros con chocolate for dessert. Still not ready to call it a night, Sasha and I wandered into a cave-bar (this place was the definition of hole-in-the-wall (if that hole leads you underground)). We were one of the only ones there along with a group of students, a very much in love Spanish couple, and a man who played piano. It was the perfect end to a very perfect trip, sipping (even more) sangria, listening to piano in a cave, and being very very grateful for study abroad.

I won’t be going on another big trip until December when a good friend from UCLA visits, so until then, bon repos!

Charley Guptill