In The City That Siestas
Siesta: An afternoon rest or nap.
Coming from the “City That Never Sleeps” (New York, of course) makes it odd to encounter shops and restaurants that close for a few hours in the middle of the day. Although I’m an avid fan of la siesta when I’m in the Dominican Republic for vacation, they strike me a bit inconvenient as a student. Nonetheless, I’ve started getting accustomed the Spanish lifestyle.
To be clear, I live in Getafe which is in southern Madrid. It’s a peaceful, residential neighborhood with it’s differences from New Paltz. The population consists of a lot of families and older people, which definitely provides a new-comer like myself with a sense of safety/security. As in most of Madrid, there are always people in the streets: walking their dogs, riding bikes, chatting away in small groups, jogging, etc. There are also fountains in abundance, providing a really fresh ambiance. To my knowledge, there are several bars the students like to go to ( El Refugio is a name I hear a lot) and for grander nights out, students flock to central Madrid (Sol & Atocha are “the spots” for clubbing. Key example is “Kapital“, a seven-story megaclub is student-magnet.) But overall, Getafe is a great place to air out the mind after a day of classes.
This past Saturday, I went on a day trip to Toledo with a classmate from the Spanish intensive course I’m taking. The coolest part was we decided to go the day before and bought bus tickets at the station Saturday morning for about 10 euros each! Toldedo is beautiful. I felt like the place wasn’t real, like I was on a huge movie set. The city ascents not so gradually, so getting to the center required a steep walk, but walking through the narrow, cobblestone streets was worth it. My mate and I walked through the Lonely Planet’s acclaimed “open-air museum” that is the city and took in the sights. Toledo is a declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of it’s past co-existence of Christians, Jews, and Muslims; we encountered mosques-turned churches, synagogue-turned-church-turned back to-synagogue, and the like. Prior to visiting Toledo, I had also heard about it’s specialty in making marzipan (a sweet, almond-meal treat), so we made sure to pick up an artisanal batch! After a filling almuerzo (lunch) at Restaurante Palacio, we visisted the [free!] Museo de Santa Cruz and finally snaked back downhill to take our bus back to Madrid. T’was a successful day.
Tomorrow is my official first day of classes, so I should get some rest. In regards to the course selection process, I had a much easier time signing up for classes than most other students. Course registration opened at 9:00 a.m. last week and in 6 minutes, I had all the classes I wanted. Most other students who waited till about 9:30 a.m. had a much harder time registering due to the overload of the system…so, I strongly advising being ready to sign up for classes to avoid being locked out of classes. I have an awesome schedule with Mondays and Fridays off: hello four-day weekend! Tomorrow I have “History of Spain” and “Photography: Theory and Practice”, both in Spanish, so cheers to the actual beginning of my semester!