Final Day in Spain

Written by Laura Read ’20, recounting March 15th 
Today was our final full day in Spain! Traveling to Madrid has been such a fulfilling and enriching experience and I can’t believe how quickly these two weeks have flown by. 
We spent our last few hours in Europe exploring the city today. Madrid is such a vivacious place; full of history, art, and dazzling landmarks. Lelia and I had already gotten a taste of the city on Sunday, when we had the day with our families, but I was so glad to get to experience it twice. It would take weeks to fully digest all that Madrid has to offer.
Lelia and I woke up bleary-eyed, but ready for our usual breakfast of pan de tostado (toast) with olive oil and salt, which is typical in Spain. We were out the door with our adorable twin host sisters in no time.
Our first stop was the Museo del Prado, which houses some of the most famous art in the world. We explored the works of Goya, Velazquez, and more, while strictly adhering to the no photo rule (well, kind of). I saw some of my favorite pieces like Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez. There is nothing quite like seeing paintings up close in real life; it never really compares to photographs.
After a quick stop for croissants, coffee, and the gift shop, we were on to our next destination: El Parque del Retiro! Famous for its stunning monuments and picturesque lake of rowboats, it made the perfect place to have our picnic lunch. It was lovely to walk through the urban park again. We basked in the sun and enjoyed our last bocadillos in the grass. Somewhere along the way we found time to buy ice cream and fake Gucci belts from vendors along the paths.
I am currently writing on my laptop while Lelia and the twins play keep away with one of Lelia’s birthday balloons around me. Every so often the balloon hits my head and they shriek with glee, “Pobre Laura!” 
I am going to miss Martina and Olivia so much. I am going to miss my host mom Olivia’s kind smile and graciousness, and my host dad Jaime’s dry sense of humor and amazing cooking. I’ll miss learning new Spanish words and phrases every day, my host family correcting my awful American consonants, and exchanging tongue twisters and idioms. I never anticipated that I could learn and grow so much in just two weeks, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have never felt more home away from home, entirely immersed in a new culture and way of living. I have learned to look forward to the unexpected, because you just might have the time of your life. 
Espero que nos veamos muy pronto, España. 
Until then, adios… for now!

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