The first week in Madrid has been nothing short of amazing. I absolutely love this city for a few reasons. Firstly there is simply so much to see. Each new place I have gone in this city has had something that would be worth a unique whole trip just to visit. Secondly, the nightlife. Madrid's night life is incredibly unique to me. When most parties and clubs in America (or France for that matter) would normally close, Madrid just starts. Most nights have been having friends over for a few drinks around 11. Heading to a bar around 12 and then heading to a club around 1 or 2. Clubs in Madrid don't close until 5 or 6 am so that means the nights could run pretty late.
As of recently my productivity switch has been firmly set in the off position. I like to say I'm either extremely productive or extremely unproductive, and with the burden of the two heavy weeks at Cannes plus the adjustment to the new Madrid lifestyle I have been nothing short of lazy and unproductive. This, however, is unproductive on a mere "work/academics" scale. As far as socially/touristy scale my life has been off the charts. The people in the program are all awesome. On Friday we all went to a club called IndepenDANCE and at a certain point in the night all the lights turned out and it became a black-light dance party. The music in Madrid is quite entertaining. An example of this would be how a bar could play Ghostbusters Pitbull, then Mariah Cary within a few minutes of each other. Seems like they're quite a bit behind on American pop music and there is this one Spanish song they always play. I'd search for it on YouTube but I'm not much of a fan and don't want to have to listen to it again to find it. Stereo Love is the title if you're interested.
Also on Friday: Segovia was amazing. The program included a daytrip to Segovia and the history and architecture of the place was astounding. You can see some pictures up on my Facebook, but the sheer magnitude of some of the buildings just left me in awe. the trip was one of our pre-scheduled IES trips. Segovia itself is a very tourist location but definitely worth the visit. Following the trip we went to lunch at a very nice Ranch which was AMAZING. Everyone in the previous program stated that this lunch is the best one of the whole session. We had fresh chicken, tapas, salad, and a ridiculously good desert that had the hint of a roasted marshmallow. I'm really happy with IES as a program. Relative to others we have an awesome apartment, great planned trips, and plenty of opportunities to do other things around the city. I'm taking a tour of the Palace tomorrow and am signing up for cooking and Flamenco classes. Guess you'd expect nothing less from a program that is populated mostly by Ivy League students.
Not to slow down the pace, we went on Saturday to un Corrido del Torros, or a Bull Fight. While I'm not a big fan of killing animals for sport, I came away from it with a newfound respect (thanks in part to wikipedia entries read from a blackberry). Basically there are 6 bulls killed each time. The audience throughout the course of the fight is a judge. they were quite angry for awhile because some of hte bulls weren't up to par with what they like. It starts with a testing of the bulls strength. The Matador has a team, and each one has their own specific jobs. As they get the bull to run around he sees the strength and speed of it. Then they bring out horses (girls did not like this part) that had armor on and the bull would run at the horses. This would tell the matador what side the bull favors. Here they would also create a wound on the bull to begin to weaken it. Then these other guys came with sticks and would run at the bull and stab it in the back. This wouldn't really hurt the bull but it would aggravate it. finally the matador and bull face off and the matador tries to make some sort of dance with the bull. Here is where the crowd will get crazy if the matador is good. After the bull is tired, he lines it up and kills it with one blow. There you go, now you don't need to visit a bullfight I just described everything that happens! That'll be 25 euro
Sunday was a recovery day from the week. I slept in very late as a result of the crazy night before (we stayed up until the metro opened to save money) and my friend Mike and I tried to get into a game in the Santiago Bernebeu or the stadium that Real Madrid plays in. Basically it was old AC Milan players vs. old Real Madrid players. Some of the bigger names were Zidane and Figo. Unfortunately we hoped getting their early would get us one of hte 5 euro tickets but no luck. There is no such thing as scalping in spain which meant despite getting one ticket for free we could not get in and just watched the game in a bar. But just the setting of the 80K person stadium was experience enough. The metro was jammed with people on the way over and there was an incredibly energetic aroma around the whole block. Can't wait for the world cup! Note to Spanish dudes: mullets are not cool.
Anyways after my first week I'm starting to find that Madrid is a city that is ALWAYS happening. Literally everyday there is something that you can do that is completely new. While I wlil be traveling I love this city and want to make sure to get the most out of it! I haven't even covered half of what I've seen but I'll try and not let it go so long next time...sound familiar...before I post again! Nos hablamos pronto!