My mom served in the US Air Force and my dad was a US government employee in Stuttgart, Germany for over nine years. While we were living there, I had the opportunity to visit many countries. My favorite trip was to Madrid, Spain on Labor Day weekend in 2005.
Some of our friends went with us on this trip which made it extra special and extra fun. We packed meatloaf sandwiches, of all things, that we ate on the plane and had a lot of laughs. We stayed at an amazing hotel in downtown Madrid and was really relaxed.
The rooms were luxurious, something we weren’t used to in Europe and my little brother and I had a great time just hanging out in our room. Normally, we spend our entire vacation being ‘tourists’. We did some sightseeing, but we spent two days just relaxing by and playing in the huge pool and hot tub.
I totally enjoyed just being at the hotel, but the absolute pinnacle of the trip was when my dad took me to see a Spanish Bull Fight at the most important bullring in the world, La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. The pageantry was breathtaking and I was in awe at the matadors’ skill in executing the performances. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
We had terrific seats right up front. My mom bought them as a surprise and we could see everything. A horse and rider actually ran into the wall where we were sitting. Although I don’t approve of the killing of the bulls in this manner, I feel privileged to have been a part of a time-honored Spanish tradition.
The restaurants, entertainment, and the food in Spain were extraordinary. We tried as many traditional Spanish foods as we could including paella and several tapas or finger foods. Everyone in our group, four in my family and four friends, would order a different tapas and we all shared them. I loved everything I tried!
I have studied Spanish for four years and am in my third year of college Spanish as a high school junior. I appreciate the Spanish culture even more because I saw a small portion of Spain on that awesome weekend.
My parents encourage me to respect other cultures and I’m thankful that they gave me so many opportunities to see and experience new things while we lived in Europe. Since they no longer work for the government, we don’t get to take vacations like this one anymore, but I have a lot of great memories. I would love to return to Spain some day, perhaps study there, so I could explore the rest of the country.
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