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May 01, 2006

Awesome Travel Locations - Madrid, Spain

Today's Travel Review courtesy of English-Blog contributor Justin Y.

A Walk in Madrid

While some people might only read about faraway places in books or see them in pictures, certain individuals visit exotic spots so that they can better understand others and where they fit into our world. Traveling gave me the opportunity to draw independent conclusions about a place for myself, without outside opinions or bias.

Recently, I was lucky enough to accompany some of my peers on a ten day trip to Spain. On my first day, I walked . . .

. . . through a major street in the city at night and observed the Spaniards, their architecture, the food they offered, and anything else I could. Noting the incredibly clean streets, the beautiful, dark haired women, and the tiny European cars, I felt a million miles away from my home in Pennsylvania. At the same time, however, I felt that I was recognizing the value of travel as well as the aesthetic differences between the United States of America and Spain.

Travel can cure an apathetic attitude towards the world, help pave the way for a more peaceful coexistence between various peoples of the world, and, in doing so, travel might also allow the traveler to do some vital self-discovery.

From my walk down the street, I gathered that nobody could truly know another place unless they dared venture there and see it with their own eyes. I realized that before I came to Spain, I was ignorant of the world around me. On that street, I encountered a duo of impoverished midgets, one dressed entirely in gold and the other in silver. They posed on the sidewalk and collected money in their gleaming top hats. The two had spray painted their entire bodies with either gold or silver to capture the attention of wandering pedestrians.

After passing these solemn midgets, I stumbled upon several outdoor restaurants and I even spotted a few horse- drawn carriages that were hauling eager tourists through the ancient city. I was slowly realizing that this place was very different from my own hometown, but also that it was just as important.

Because I sensed the significance of other countries, I can grasp the necessity of tolerance and the vital role it can play in making our lives easier. This is a modern world in which international businesses, nuclear scares, and terrorist groups are commonplace, so we must work together as one to accomplish common goals. While I was walking down that Spanish street, I noticed the diverse people and the way they interacted. There is so much diversity in this world, and everything from the language to the type of government in an area can influence how people interpret the world around them.

This fact was pressed upon me during my first evening in Madrid, because signs protesting the war in Iraq and other political signage seemed ubiquitous. I remember other things about that ancient city that force me to acknowledge how important healthy relationships are between the countries of our world. That little stroll down the busy lane in Madrid has had a profound impact on me because now I can easily perceive the importance of peaceful relations in the development of a stable global civilization.

Later that night, I reflected on my experiences as I jotted them down in my travel journal. The unfamiliar country had continued to amaze me even after I had been in the capitol city for over ten hours. Near the end of my first night in Spain, I took a trip with some friends and got lost in the veritable maze of narrow streets that run through the city like arteries. Our group came across dozens of small seafood restaurants with lobsters, crabs, and fish in tanks at the windows. We encountered small shops that sold melted hot chocolate served with crunchy churros and night clubs that splashed neon light onto the streets.

All of this seemed foreign and romantic, the typical European stereotype shown in magazines and movies. But I saw it, smelled it, tasted it; it was real. Now, I realize what an important impact the visit has had upon me personally. I understand now that I had previously thought of myself as the center of the world, but now I recognize that I am just a smaller part of something far bigger. One of the most important aspects of my trip is the way in which it has matured my world view. Also, because of my trip, traveling is one of the things that I look forward to most in my future. Obviously, my trip had a hand in shaping my outlook on life and the way I view myself in it.

Not only do I believe that travel can help mend relations and foster understanding between peoples, but I now believe that it can also help people discover themselves. The knowledge and insight I gained is worth far more than the monetary value of my trip.

Fortunately, I capitalized on the opportunity to travel early. With my own eyes, I saw another country on another continent and I learned valuable lessons from it. No pictures or text in a book could accurately describe my incredible trip because I learned for myself without assumptions or falsities.

~Justin Y.

Comments for Justin's article "A Walk in Madrid?" Please leave them below:

*To read other entries about awesome travel locations and stories, please click HERE!

**To learn about hot locales for teaching ESL, click HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at May 1, 2006 12:37 PM

Readers' Comments:

What a beautiful writing style you have...and I couldn't agree with you any more.
I am an avid traveller myself and after seven years in NYC, I am exploring the idea of teaching English in Madrid or Venice beginning in fall. Thank you for an inspiring story.

Posted by: Anne-Marie Mascaro at March 26, 2007 02:08 PM

For an awesome site that contains New York City and Venice, Italy go to www.museumplanet.com.

The site has narratedslide tours on historic sites in each city. New York (for example) contains 2,500 photogaphs and over 500,000 written words. Venice is similar. It is a good wayt o get to know a city.

Posted by: David Brown at February 6, 2008 04:39 PM

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