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Palaces and Carnivals

¡Hola, amigos! I cannot emphasize enough how amazing Sevilla is, but traveling around Europe, and even within the country you’re studying, is a huge part of the abroad experience. Located in the south of Spain, Sevilla has the most amazing weather and the most amazing food, and most importantly, it is located just a few hours from some of the most beautiful cities in Spain. I have been fortunate enough to travel to two of the most amazing places the past couple of weekends—all less than three hours away!

Madrid is the capital of Spain with a population of 3.3 million, and boy, did it feel like it! My excursion to Madrid began with a two-and-a-half hour train ride through the beautiful cities of Cordoba and Toledo. My friends and I were eager to explore the city because of all we have heard about the art, the fashion and, most importantly, the “churros con chocolate” (the most amazing dessert ever!).

Our first matter of business was to go to La Plaza Mayor, which was conveniently located about five minutes from where we were staying. La Plaza Mayor was used as the place where Catholics executed the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. It is now just a major touristy area with markets, cafes and dressed-up characters.
After leaving La Plaza Mayor, we headed to El Mercado de San Miguel. El Mercado de San Miguel is a beautiful two-story market with the most amazing EVERYTHING! From fish to paella to desserts, El Mercado de San Miguel is always packed. Sadly we spent quite a long time salivating over each and every item. The pictures cannot even do the food justice.

Next, we went to El Palacio Real de Madrid. El Palacio is the residence for the King of Spain, even though he doesn’t live there. Instead, it is used for ceremonies and tours of the palace. I only have pictures of the outside, because you are not allowed to use a camera inside, but the interior was even more magnificent than the outside – which is hard to believe. The palace is about 1.5 million square feet, making it the largest palace in Europe. Inside, everything dates back to the sixteenth century. Every single room has a different theme, but they somehow connect and mesh together. The art seemed to be the most amazing part to me. There is art by Francisco de Goya, among many other famous artists. I found myself planning which room I would want to get married in on several occasions.

After seeing the palace, I was feeling quite depressed about not being part of a royal family. I did what every girl does at that time—found dessert to ease the pain. Spain is known for its churros con chocolate, and we just happened to be a few minutes away from Madrid’s most famous churros place! YUMMMMY! We also visited El Prado, Reina Sofia and Puerta del Sol during our stay in Madrid. My gal pals and I really lucked out as the weather was not too cold, but returning to Sevilla was the best feeling.

One of the most amazing adventures was going to Carnival de Cadiz. Cadiz is the capital of Andalusia, which is the southern area of Spain. It is known for its beauty, but most importantly for throwing the most amazing party in the entire world—Carnival. Carnival is a two-week party, normally right before Lent, in which Spaniards sing, dance and drink – and all in excessive amounts.

I kept hearing from former students who had studied abroad in Spain that Carnival de Cadiz was the way to go. I looked into the trip and was utterly confused when I read that my bus would be leaving Sevilla at 9 p.m., not to return until 8 a.m. the following day—talk about survival of the fittest! Thanks to DiscoverSevilla, we got a free shot (optional of course) and a mini-sandwich to sober us up. One shot for eleven hours of partying? Not enough. So we did as every poor college student does: bought a box of 59-cent euro wine and went on our way. #AbroadGirlProblems.

Upon our arrival in Cadiz, I saw people of all ages drinking out of big bottles (“botellón-ing” as they say in Spain) and dancing to the beats of drums and live music. The entire city was a madhouse! My friends and I made our way through the city to find the main square where music was blasting. I’m not sure if it was because people were so “juiced up,” but we made friends from all over Spain and danced the night away.

We spent hours before leaving Sevilla figuring out what to wear. Apparently it paid off because I won best costume contest, conveniently winning a bottle of champagne! But, I followed my dad’s saying, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” and ended up having one of the best nights here. And as much as I love Wisco Halloween, I’m afraid Carnival de Cadiz one-upped it.  

Although both were short trips, we made the most of every minute. I ate amazing food, danced the night away, saw unbelievable attractions and, most importantly, found myself in good company.

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