Viajes al Extranjero

Virgen De Las Nieves

As this past weekend approached, I felt the need to get out of the city a bit. While I had only been here just under two weeks at the time, it seemed like forever. I had been spending a ton of time with the other Americans in my group in our lengthy classes, and I needed a break from that. So I found an international group on Meetup that was going hiking on Sunday and I joined.

Madrid is in the center of the Iberian Peninsula (the farthest I could be from the ocean!) and rests on a rather high plateau. At 667 m (2189 ft) it’s the highest capital in Europe. Through the center of this plateau is the Sierra Guadarama mountain range. It was here that we headed.

We left from the northwest of the city and took the bus about an hour up into the mountains. Stopping to apply sunscreen, grab a cup of coffee, and go to the bathroom, we then began our trek up into the hills. All said and done it was only a 10km (6 mi) hike with only 400 m (1300 ft) elevation change, so it wasn’t the most strenuous thing I had ever done. But the altitude made the temperature perfect unlike the 37C (99F) weather back in the city. But not only was there lovely views (which my camera did no justice) and fresh air, I also got to meet some really interesting people.

The group was about 15, so I didn’t get to know everyone, but I had some pretty good conversations with a Welshman, a Colombian doctor, a woman from Morocco, two men from Belgium, and two women from Russia. It was exactly the mix that I was looking for.

Once we got back to where we started, we grabbed a celebratory beer and waited for our bus back to Madrid. I have nothing against the people in my program, I’m just a little bit older than most of them, so it was nice to hang out with people closer to my age. All in all an excellent way to spend the day. And there’s talk of this group hanging out this week, so yay to new friends!

So that’s that. Most of my time is spent these days going to classes every weekday from 9:30 – 1:30, and then heading to El Retiro, a really large park (just under half the size of Central Park) near the center of the city. I spend most of my day lying in the grass trying to study as much Spanish as my brain can handle. With classes in the morning, it sometimes doesn’t seem like it can handle that much. But I do feel like I’m improving. Especially since it has only been one week of study.

Well, it’s almost eleven and I’m going to try and fit in an episode of Destinos before I head to bed and start all over tomorrow. Buena noche!

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