By Nicole Strombom
We made it to week six! After a crazy weekend of adventures in Seville and Morocco, I was exhausted, but excited to be starting my final week of the Summer Law Program in Madrid. Week six would prove to be bittersweet because we finished classes on Wednesday, started finals on Thursday, and would leave Madrid in the following days.
Monday arrived and it finally hit me that we were nearing the end. I had explored Valencia, Barcelona, Seville, and Morocco, but my Madrid “to do” list remained mostly uncrossed. Several days were left of my trip and I would need to spend some time exploring in order to making the most out of my Madrid experience!
After classes, I ventured to the Victory Arch, the Palace, the Cathedral, and Temple de Debod. The Victory Arch is not tidy and is a bit out of the way on the opposite end of the Parque del Oeste from Temple de Debod. Venturing through this park I saw many statues and a beautiful fountain topped with a fleur de lis (Fountain of Juan de Villanueva). After a few wrong turns and meandering peacefully through the park, I made it to Temple de Debod. The Temple was given to Spain as a gift for helping with the construction of an Egyptian dam. A short walk from the Temple de Debod is the Palace or Alcazar of Madrid, which is impeccably decorated and offers a room filled with porcelain work. Views of the city are offered from both the plaza in front of the palace and a nearby overlook at Temple de Debod. From here, I ventured toward Gran Via, the main shopping street in Madrid, and stopped in a few souvenirs shops for postcards.
On Tuesday, I continued my adventure with a walk down Gran Via and downtown Madrid. I ventured through Plaza Mayor, Plaza Cibeles, Puerta de Alcalá, and Plaza del Sol. I took in the iconic monuments and views as I walked. The symbol of Madrid, El Oso y el Madroño, a bear climbing a strawberry tree is located in Plaza del Sol. Near Plaza Mayor is the most famous churro location in Madrid (Chocolatería San Ginés). I stopped in and had their famous churros and chocolate. I was not disappointed! As I ventured on, I noticed that Madrid, which was hosting World Pride, had pulled out all the stops for the celebration. The streets were bustling with activity and cheer -- even the porta-potties were arranged in a rainbow.
Wednesday was our “goodbye” dinner at Piccola Napoli. It was a great chance to chat about our trip, repeat our favorite trip quotes, and say farewell (for now) to friends.
I continued my adventures on Thursday with a trip to the Prado and visit to the rooftop terrace of Círculo de Bellas Artes. The Prado was filled with art from all over Europe. I highly enjoyed a new Goya exhibit. The Círculo de Bellas Artes’s terrace was amazing and a place everyone should visit. The terrace offered views of the city that provide a perspective of just how big Madrid really is.
After finals, I decided to take a short trip to Toledo. Toledo stole my heart with its old world walls and winding streets. I began my day at Mariano Zamorano Swords, a sword shop that has a 150-year tradition of working in the craft of creating swords. Toledo is rumored to be where the swords used in the Lord of the Rings movies were designed, and the nerd in me was quite happy to see the beautiful sword shop in this city.
As I packed my bags to return to St. Louis, mixed emotions consumed my thoughts of excitement to get home and sadness for leaving Spain. On reflection, I expected my experience in Spain to provide me with enhanced knowledge on international law, but my trip exceeded this expectation. I improved my Spanish, learned how to navigate a big city and learned how to communicate with people through a language barrier. Overall, I found that the Summer Law Program not only taught me about international law but also about myself, humanity and the world.