Reading Week in Spain – Carly Ann Noah

“Reading Week” is designed as a time for students to get caught up with their studies and enjoy a little time off from academics. My friends and I decided to make the most of this free time and plan a trip to Spain! It was all of our first experiences with Spain and we wanted to see as much as possible — in our week off, we managed to travel to Barcelona, Madrid and Toldeo! Read on for a summary of each day’s adventures:

Friday evening:

Arrived at our hostel in Barcelona


We woke up Saturday morning for our first full day in Barcelona! We began by walking through Las Ramblas and taking a long walk through the popular street market, La Boqueria Market, where I got the best green juice that I have ever had! After our morning, we headed into the city to see many of the important tourist attractions. I personally loved seeing the Barcelona Cathedral. Another highlight was the wide range of variety found within all of the Gaudi Houses – Gaudi is a very famous architect in Barcelona who is credited with many of the important buildings. His eclectic design style is so unique – I had never seen anything like them before! After our afternoon exploring Barcelona, we headed to Park Guell where we were able to walk through fantastic gardens and explore a plethora of cathedrals and other attractions.

Step Count: 21, 786 steps

Mile Count: 10.5 miles

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Sunday was our final full day in Barcelona, so we woke up ready to see what parts of the city we missed on Saturday. Our day began with a journey to the remarkable Museu Nacional d’Art de Catlunya, which is the location of “The Magic Fountain” as well. The intricate architecture on the museum was spectacular! After this, we began the long journey to La Sagrada Familia, an incredible cathedral that hosts the most beautiful architecture that I have ever seen! We also journeyed to Parc de Citutadella and enjoyed soaking in some of Barcelona’s vibrant culture. Dinner was located near the water (the Mediterranean Sea) and following our walk to the beach, we ventured to Camp Nou for a Barca football game!

Step Count: 24, 735 steps

Mile Count: 11.9 miles


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Went back to the seacoast for brunch and then headed to Madrid!

Step Count: 11, 575 steps

Mile Count: 5.6 miles

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Tuesday was deemed our Madrid walking tour day! We began by walking through the Museo Cerrablo, a house museum. Following that, we headed to the Mercado de San Miguel, another popular street market in Madrid where I purchased MORE of the incredible juice. The Royale Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Cathedral were our next stops on our journey — both were truly spectacular to admire!  Of course, we took an afternoon break for churros! We finished up our final day by stopping at Retiro Park, the home of the “Glass Castle”, an incredible building made completely of glass.

Step Count: 26, 744 steps

Mile Count: 12.7 miles
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On Wednesday, we adventured to Toldeo, a nearby city known for its charm, history, and churches. All of the attractions that we saw were so unique in their own way. Some of my personal favorites from Toldeo include the Castle of San Servando and the Toldeo Cathedral. We also walked through the Greco Museum, as El Greco was a very well known Spanish artist. Before our day in Toldeo was done, we decided to zip-line across the Tagus River! It was such a cool way to see the city and of course, who doesn’t enjoy a good zip line? We got to go multiple times for free, which made it all the better. We headed back to Madrid just in time to catch an authentic flamenco show at a nearby restaurant.

Step Count: 26, 518 steps

Mile Count: 12. 9 miles

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Something that we all had wanted to do while in Madrid was experience a hike. Luckily for us, the nearby Sierra de Guarrama was only an hour away and accessible by bus. So, we made the trek to a hiking trail and spent the day scaling many of the massive rock formations. The views were stunning and I think we all agreed that it was simply an incredible experience! No trip would go without slight issue, and we missed our bus back to Madrid by exactly 30 seconds. Luckily, another bus ended up coming an hour later, which meant that the four hikers who were already exhausted from the day might have fallen asleep at a nearby café!

Step Count: 27, 333 steps

Mile Count: 12.9 miles

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Friday was our final day in Madrid and our final day in Spain. I was able to see one of my friends from my home University and enjoyed catching up with her over acai bowls and soy lattes. At noon, we began our ten-hour journey back to London. We arrived back exhausted, dirty, a bit hungry, but primarily thrilled with our adventure in Spain!

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