La puerta in Spanish most commonly is translated to mean “door”. In our lives, we use doors to form barriers and to separate one thing from another. Doors separate rooms, the inside from the outside, and neatly hide away things we wish not to be seen. However, la puerta can also be translated to mean “gateway”, and our first day in Europe we were met with a puerta; a gateway into our European adventures-the city of Madrid.
After a long (long, long) travel day for all with heavy eyes and hungry bellies, we hit the streets of Madrid to find a snack before moving to the first task: the Prado Museum. It was incredible to watch the students witness first hand the works of master artist Velásquez, Goya, El Greco, Picasso, Rafael and others as they saw (many of them for the first time) art they only knew in pictures. Hearing their discussions afterwards and becoming familiar with each of their interpretations of what they saw was an incredible way to begin this European trek in our gateway city.
From the Prado we meandered though the incredible barrio of Las letras, literally “the letters” which was created in honor of the many famous writers of Spain. In honor of the (arguably) most famous writer of Spain, Miguel de Cervantes, the Barrio de Las Letras was created around his residence, which we passed on our way.
As continued, we encountered to the Plaza de Santa Ana, which pays homage to another incredible Spanish writer, Federico Garcia Lorca. Here we were able to see a typical plaza of Spain and students were able to recall their knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and share their impressions of Lorca’s poetry which was covered in the Spanish 3 class this past year as a part of their final exam.
Finally, we completed our walking tour in the famous Puerta del Sol, the epicenter of this lively place where tourist and townies commune together in a variety of shops and restaurants, and where all come to truly feel the pule of this energetic bohemian city. It is here, in the Puerta del Sol that our student have reached another gateway, the “Gateway to the Sun” which is guarded by the mascot of Madrid, the oso comiendo del árbol madrone, or the bear eating from the Madrone tree. It is at this monument that we show our respect and mark our pilgrimage to Spain.
After a long journey, Madrid open its arms to us and served as the perfect introduction, the perfect greeter to our time in Europe. Though much remains and time in Spain is limited, it is here that our family was met at the gate, and was encourage to explore.