MADRID & TOLEDO

I’ve had so much fun combing through all my old photos from my travels in Spain circa the Fall of 2013. At the time I was a sophomore in college and had just been accepted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. After only one semester in when I decided to make the jump across the pond and study International Business in Spain for 4 months!

My program was based in Malaga, Spain– a small beach town on the Costa Del Sol. Although I lived there the majority of the time, weekends were my opportunity to explore the different cities of Spain as well as other countries. With that being said, my trip was undoubtedly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I  learned so much about the Spanish culture, traditions, and way of life through out my stay.  I’ve shared my favorite destinations, what I ate, and a few highlights from what I saw. Hope you enjoy!

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One of our first stops when we arrived in Spain was the Museo Del Prado. As a art major – I loved visiting the museums throughout the trip & this was my first taste of art history front and center. I encountered many famous painting I studied about in college text books! It is quite the experience from seeing a thumbnail of a  painting in a book to seeing it live right in front of you (they were easily 2-3x my size). The Museo Del Prado has filled it’s collection with the famous works of Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya. Put this on the top of your list art lovers.

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We also had the chance to check out Plaza Mayor – Madrid’s vibrant main square filled with shopping, bars, and restaurants. It’s the site of the former Plaza del Arrabal, a popular market dating back to the 15th century. This was one of my first experiences tasting local delicacies and shopping the street and alleyway vendors.

Lastly Gran Vía is another great spot if  you’d like to get a sense of the city. It’s Madrid’s entertainment, shopping and cultural nerve center, a bustling avenue full of life until dawn. At night it’s got some of the city’s best night clubs (dress nicely – flip flops are a no!)

W H A T    I    A T E    &    D R A N K
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I stopped in the historic center to refuel with some of Madrid’s finest foods. The first thing I was told to try was the Calamari Sandwhich a  favorite staple of Madrid.   A simple sandwich composed of a bread bun packed with calamari that are battered in flour and egg and then fried with a little lemon sauce. Simple and delicious! Another must on my list was to try Spain’s wine and more importantly, their Sangria! Great for the buzz, but I ended up walking around with bright red lips.

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Toledo is recognized mostly because of the  Alcázar of Toledo – a stone fortification that used to be a Roman palace located in the highest part of Toledo, Spain. The Alcazar has now become the  city’s Army Museum. It is the first establishment you can see while driving up through the winding roads outside of town. The views were phenomenal as the city boasts much history and grandeur.

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Once we got into town we were taken on a guided tour. One of the more memorable places was the Catedral de Toledo (Toledo’s Cathedral). The Catedral is one of the most important Christian landmarks in Spain.  The structure is heavily influenced by the French Gothic style of the 13th century, but adapted to Spanish taste. The cathedral’s sacristy is a veritable art gallery of old masters, with works by Velázquez, Goya and – of course – El Greco.

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Mariano Zamorano Fábrica de Espadas– A small local shop set in a quiet corner off the center of town  is one of the last authentic sword makers in Toledo. When our group visited the shop it was filled with armored statues, swords, & trinkets. We were able to meet the owner Mariano Zamorano, who still hand crafts all the swords made told us that Toledo was once a place where warriors, kings and noblemen would go for the weapons they carried into war. The swords crafted here can be seen in the wildly popular Lord of theRings movie trilogy!

W H A T    I    A T E    &    D R A N K

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Toledo, like many of Spain’s popular locations, has too many restaurants to name. For lunch we dined in the alley way outside Catedral de Toledo. We drank bottles of their local Cabernet & snacked on small tapas such as fresh crawfish and chopitos (which are battered, fried baby squid). The food in Spain, especially their seafood, tastes straight from the boat. It is hands down some of the tastiest seafood I’ve ever tried!

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more travels from Spain!

-xo, Amanda

 

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