This post, written by Alex Twelves ’18, recounts the group’s first full day in Spain, Monday, March 6, 2017:
On Monday, March 6, the Spanish Exchange group met at Colegio Europeo de Madrid before going into the city. In Madrid, we started at the Royal Palace and its Cathedral, built in the 19th century, and walked to the Basilica Pontificia de San Niguel, built in the 13th century. The history of Spain is incredible. We continued to walk through the city, passing by Town Hall, Plaza del Sol, and the Parliament. We had an early lunch, thanks to CEM, of pepperoni sandwiches, tortillas patatas, fruit, and water, before we entered the Museo Nacional del Prado, The Prado Museum. As we walked around the museum, we saw famous works by El Greco, Goya, and Velazquez. Some of us remembered a particular painting from Mr. O’s MEH class, Las Meninas, by Velazquez. We could appreciate the perspective of the artist’s work as we also were reminded of the different meanings: political, artistic, and reflective. Surprisingly, we ran into another Norfolk Academy family not on the Spanish Exchange, reminding us that our world is so small. After walking around the museum, we took to the streets again. Señor Bunn and Señora Hopkins gave us an opportunity to shop freely in small groups on Gran Via. We jumped into stores such as Adidas and Ale-Hop and peeked into a “futuristic” McDonalds. After heading back to the school, part of the group played basketball while waiting for their host students. The group continued to go to the main mall in Madrid, where many American students were questioned by the Spaniards for being hungry at 7 o’clock. We shopped, ate, and hung out in the mall for a few hours before getting home at around 9 pm for a late dinner to conclude the day.