Days 2 – 3
by Mike Hayes and Garret Chan
Out and about in Madrid
On Tuesday, the second day in Madrid, our day was filled with activities and it started early. Due to our jet lag, some of us had difficulty waking up and making it down to the lobby at 9:00 a.m. Once we were all assembled in the lobby we walked to Gran Vía, a plaza in Madrid, and took the metro to a stop that was relatively close to a bus we were taking to Banco Santander’s headquarters, Boadilla del Monte.
Taking the metro
We really had no idea what we were about to be doing because we were with a guide and not our professors on this particular outing and we had not asked any questions. It turned out to be a little city that seemed abandoned; we later learned that everyone was off for the holidays. The bus drove us around an olive tree forest and we eventually stopped and entered one of the buildings where they showed us a video about where we were. It was very strange because we walked into this enormous auditorium without speaking to anyone and they played this video and then we got up and left and went to another building. We did not see or speak to anyone until we got to the next building where we were shown an art exhibit of Spanish paintings. The tour guide described each painting to us rather than letting us walk around and explore on our own. Overall, it was interesting to see how this successful company had created it’s own city for employees to enjoy while at work.
We then drove back to the city where we met up with our Professors and met with one of Dr. Wendorff’s contacts in Spain who works at Adidas. He explained to us that he was a lawyer for Adidas and worked with Real Madrid, a famous Spanish soccer team, and helped with their licensing agreements with Adidas and all of their merchandise sold in retail stores. We ate lunch at a restaurant next to the building he worked in before we headed across the street to tour the Real Madrid stadium. While eating at the restaurant we noticed that everything we were eating was more healthy and fresher than what we eat in the United States. For example, we had juice that was made from freshly squeezed fruit right behind the counter.
Dr. Wendorff and one of her many contacts
We then walked across the street to take a tour of Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid’s stadium. This was an awesome experience for all of us. We thought that we would just be looking at the field and walking around a little bit. We were mistaken; it was like a museum inside of the stadium with impressive technology. It was very cool to see how much the team gave back to their fans and let them into the club to get a behind the scenes look at a lot of interesting things. We were able to see the inside of the locker room as well as go down to field level, where you really get to see the amount of pressure on these athletes due to how many people are watching.
Real Madrid Stadium
Sitting on the bench is not so bad at the Real Madrid stadium!
Viewing the many trophies and awards at the Real Madrid stadium
That night we stayed in and got a good night’s sleep because the next day was New Year’s Eve. The morning of December 31st, we walked to the Royal Palace and went to the Cathedral next to it before eventually going on a tour inside the Palace. The Cathedral was impressive but not nearly as cool or extravagant as the Royal Palace, in our opinion. We got to visit the armory before going on our tour, which featured all of the old armor and weapons used by the Spanish army throughout history.
El Palacio Real
We were not allowed to take pictures inside of the armory or the Palace. We saw a few people take pictures and security guards would walk over and quickly stop them. They told us we would be arrested if we took any pictures. I do not know how serious the threat was but we listened. We had a tour guide that was telling us about the rooms we were in and their history as well as some interesting facts. Some of us lowered the volume and did not listen to him and looked for ourselves and read the information instead of relying on him. Most of the rooms were so extravagant that it is hard to describe the immense detail that was needed to construct them without experiencing it yourself.
Ceiling at the Palacio
We got split up from one another because of the large crowds and our lack of cell phone service, so we were not able to eat as a group. We all went to different places to eat: some went to the busy local market where there was all kinds of fresh food prepared.
Getting food in the crowded market
From there we went to the Accent building (home of the Spanish company working with us to arrange our activities while in Spain), where we discussed film and bullfighting and learned more about Spanish culture. In class we learned about bullfighting so some of the information was repetitive.
Since that night was New Year’s Eve, we wanted to experience the Spanish tradition of going to Plaza del Sol and eating the 12 grapes as the clock struck midnight. Most of us were able to stay together and get to the Plaza and experience it as a group. There were a lot of people there celebrating and it was quite hectic but it was a great time. ¡Feliz año nuevo!
Celebrating the New Year in La Plaza del Sol