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Study Abroad Log: Barcelona and Madrid


Study Abroad Log: Barcelona and Madrid

Makena Lopez

While most of my time studying abroad was filled with adventures in places I’ve never been to, going to Spain for the first leg of my spring break (and final traveling week) was a different experience.

The first European country I had ever traveled to was Spain when my parents took me on a two-week trip to the Mediterranean before my senior year of high school. We spent a few days in Barcelona before we embarked on our cruise, and ever since then Barcelona has had a special place in my heart. Coming back for the second time was amazing because I got to spend the three days I was there relaxing and enjoying the local atmosphere instead of trying to cram in all the tourist sights.

I flew to Barcelona for the first part of my spring break with a few friends from my Milan study abroad program. We stayed in an AirBnB in the heart of the city and walking distance from cool bars and amazing restaurants.

We had some of the best food of my life at Vivant – amazing 3 course seafood meal for a great price- and an delicious brunch at Billy Brunch.

We also hung out on the amazing rooftop bar of the Ayre Hotel for refreshing Sangria and spectacular views of Sagrada Familia. We also enjoyed the colorful variety of food and drinks at the Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas and did some souvenir shopping in that area before catching a bullet train to Madrid.

Madrid ended up being my favorite city I visited during my study abroad and is definitely one of my favorite places in the world now. While I love Barcelona, it can be very touristy and crowded. Madrid is also a big city, but it feels more like London but with Spanish Hospitality and warmth.

We stayed in an amazing hostel in a great area of Madrid that was close to some great shopping and even better gay bars. We ate amazing arepas, walked through the beautiful city gardens and spent the day admiring the Palacio de Cristal.

I highly recommend Honest Greens for brunch, and the Mercado de San Anton for a fantastic food hall experience with something for everyone in your group!

As if the city wasn’t great enough, a barista spelled my name correctly on my coffee for the first time in my whole life so I really felt understood and at one with Madrid.

Overall, I was so taken aback by how hard I fell in love with Madrid. I had wanted to visit for years and was excited to plan some time there since it was so close to Barcelona, but I had no idea how amazing the city would be.

On my last night there, I seriously considered canceling the last leg of my spring break trip to spend the rest of the week in Madrid, but realized the rest of my trip was non-refundable (LOL). After Madrid, we flew home to Milan for a few days to rest before packing our bags again and heading out on another adventure…which I will be writing more about soon!

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