Be ready to walk in Spain…to the Metro, to the bus stop, to the various markets, to get a coffee, and to go out at night. Pretty steady walking in this country is the norm. Throughout Spain there are massive centuries-old cathedrals and palaces (what seems to never make it in print is that they are almost always under construction). It might seem boring but there are museums to visit, as well as cooking and flamenco dance classes to take. Salads are just dressed with oil and vinegar and salt, but somehow taste better than any salad you will make at home. We can’t write about Spain without mentioning the iconic and legendary nightlife: nothing really happens until midnight, at the earliest, and closing time is well after the sun comes up. Every club at some point will play songs from Grease and old Abba tunes, not kidding here, and there is no irony either. Our three program cities are below, chosen because we have found better internships in these cities.
Visit the Cathedral of Madrid and the Royal Palace. Remember, you are walking, walking…the city is full of little ponds with statues and fountains. Don’t forget to capture these moments with photos! Attractions to add to your list: Palacio Real, Palacio de Santa Cruz, Iglesia de San Jose, and Palacio de Velazquez. Join one of the free city walking tours and you will see more, miss less. Spend some time just wandering through the Royal Botanical Garden and Retiro Park. Have a picnic here, there are street artists mixed in with joggers mixed in with families. While we love this important green space in Madrid, we’d rather you wander during the day, not at night. There are public gardens everywhere, even in the main Train Station, “Atocha!” Watch a soccer game if you are with us between the months of September – April, and feel like a local when you walk into the world famous Bernabeu Stadium where soccer Club Real Madrid plays.
More walking here but at least it’s flat! Even better, the historic center has recently been turned into pedestrian streets only. Rental bikes, too, are a real option in this city, with some of the narrowest streets and a public transportation system that is more chaotic than Madrid or Barcelona. Spring in Seville is a cliché for a reason – orange blossoms and eating outside and full day long trips to the beach become your new normal. Add Semana Santa and the Feria, and this really is one of the better times to be here. Think skin tight flamenco dresses, horse carriages and sherry sipping out of a boda bag. The tapeo, going out for tapas, makes you feel Sevillano and there are over 1,000 tapas bars to choose from. Our favorites are the local haunts with Spanish grandpas sipping Mahou beer or sherry, but there are many a modern version too. Eating around like this is a way of life here, one you will try hard to replicate when you return home. Let us know if you are successful.
Our top touristy thing to do here, hands down, is Park Guell. The artwork by Gaudi is astounding and there is an unbeatable view of the city. Think whimsical and mosaic colorful tile – Disneyland combined with an adult doll house – and you get the picture. Have a backpack picnic outside the King’s Palace and watch the fountain light show dance in tune with the music. Street performers line the streets as you walk on to the Olympic stadium. Night time is best as everything is lit up. Like all places in Spain with a beach, you can lay out topless here ladies, a plus for some, quite uncomfortable for others, but there you have it. Enjoy more walking around the antique looking Gothic Quarter to eat tapas and drink whatever you fancy until you are nicely stuffed, Spain style. Sagrada Familia is stunning as well, but seems to have been under construction for years.