oliver spain column

Before coming over to Ireland, I knew I wanted to also go to other places in Europe outside of Ireland; however, up until last weekend, I didn’t have the time to do so.

This past weekend, I visited Madrid, Spain.

I chose to go to Spain because I discovered my friend from high school is studying there this semester. I got in touch with him, and then I went to see him this weekend.

I was pretty nervous before coming over to Spain. Before this trip, I had never flown by myself.

I left my house in Limerick at 2 a.m. to catch a bus to the Dublin Airport. My flight left at 7:15 a.m. It’s about a 3 hour bus ride from Limerick to the Dublin Airport.

Even before I had done anything in Madrid, I was pretty tired when I arrived.

When I arrived at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, I was very nervous about the language difference since I don’t speak Spanish. I learned some a really long time ago in elementary school, but I retained almost none of it. However, most people do speak English in Spain, so it turned out to be not much of a problem.

The first thing that surprised me about Spain was how late people stay out. I knew people in Spain eat dinner much later than most people do, but I didn’t know it affected everything else. When I got to my friend’s apartment, we didn’t go out until around midnight and got back to the apartment around 4 a.m.

The first night was pretty fun. I was surprised to have some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in Spain of all places. After eating, we went to a few different bars and clubs in Madrid and then went back to his apartment.

The next day, I got to visit one of the top tourist destinations in Spain — the Royal Palace of Madrid.

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official home of the Spanish Royal Family; it’s a huge palace with almost 3,500 rooms. I have to admit, I didn’t know Spain still had a royal family until this past weekend.

The front of the palace has a large courtyard where I entered. Once inside, there are a ton of beautiful paintings and statues; the ceilings were painted with different Greek myths.

Next were the private rooms of the royal family. These included some of the bedrooms, the dining room and the throne room. I really wish I could’ve gotten some pictures of this area, but I wasn’t allowed to.

On Sunday, I went to a soccer match for Atlético de Madrid at Metropolitano Stadium.

Atlético de Madrid is one of three soccer clubs in Madrid along with Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid. The stadium is about 15 minutes outside of the city center of Madrid.

This was awesome. I’ve never been to a European soccer match, and it’s unlike any other sports event I’ve been to. The stadium was really loud, and like most European soccer clubs, the fans have their own chants and songs, much like the rugby match I was at earlier this semester.

Atlético de Madrid played RCD Espanyol de Barcelona. One of the most interesting parts of the match was how the opposing fans were kept in a small area in the nosebleed section of the stadium and were surrounded by police. I guess it gets really intense at these matches.

The match ended in a draw, which was kind of disappointing, but it was still really cool to see Atlético score a goal, as forward Joao Felix scored the lone goal for Atlético.

Following the match, my friend and I went to watch the Tottenham Hotspur-Liverpool match, and I had patatas bravas for the first time at the bar where we watched the match.

Patatas bravas is a tapas dish with fried potatoes covered with a spicy sauce. I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Spain.

I went back to Ireland the next day wishing I had more time to spend in Madrid — it’s such a cool place. I just wish I could’ve been there longer.

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