Although it has only been eight days since I arrived on Spanish soil, I feel like I have done so much! Both Spain, and the city of Madrid, are places so full of history and culture that it almost seems sinful not to take advantage of every minute of every day. After overcoming jetlag symptoms and adjusting to the time zone I wasted no time seeing the main sites that Spain has to offer.
Before even arriving to the house of my new host family, they insisted on stopping on our way home so that they could assist their community with their weekly food drive that helped the people in their village be able to have supplies, food and other necessities. Therefore, my first impression of the people of Spain - my host family in particular - was that they are kind and generous people who thoroughly and genuinely enjoy helping others. This immediately made me feel right at home.
For my first visit outside of Villanueva de la Cañada (my host family's town) I traveled to Puerta del Sol, where I immediately could feel the city's culture all around me. There are so many wonderful areas of Madrid, but the place I wanted to see the most was Plaza Mayor. It is a beautiful, open area, which, to me, was the epitome of what I imagined when I picture the city of Madrid. During my first week I ate dinner in Plaza Mayor twice and met up with new friends from the InterExchange program.
On Wednesday, I went with some of the girls that I had met and I saw a Flamenco show in Plaza Santa Ana and got to experience the passion and emotion of Spanish culture that is Flamenco. The dancers and musicians in the show were incredible, and unbelievably talented at showing their audience what dance and music in Spain are really all about. The show we saw consisted of a singer and another musician, and three dancers. The male Flamenco dancer started off the show with a very focused and passionate performance like I had never seen, and the two female dancers who followed were equally as passionate.
On Saturday, I traveled with a friend and my host family to Toledo, Spain, my first trip outside of Madrid and a great way to start off my list of cities to visit. Toledo is a beautiful city with medieval architecture and houses some of Spain's greatest history. During our tour we got to go inside so many different buildings and experience sights that we definitely do not get to see every day. After taking over 300 pictures that day, I can easily say that Toledo makes my list of my top three favorite places in the world. We finished our day with a nice picnic at an amazing view overlooking the entire city and watched the sunset over Toledo. So far, Spain has been everything I have dreamt of and more.