Pitt in Spain 6 – A Challenge

Hola! I finished finals on Tuesday (stressful but done now) and have almost a week until classes start again for the July session, where I’ll be taking a Spanish film class and a more conversational culture course. I’ll be leaving for a three-day sightseeing excursion to Bilbao on Saturday, but for now am setting aside some time to explore more of Madrid and Alcalá. Yesterday I spent the afternoon in el Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza—one of the three great art museums in Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art—and today I’m going back to the Prado to spend some more time in the Hieronymus Bosch room. If you like art, Madrid is an incredible place to live in (or adjacent to)!

Today I’m going to write a bit about one of the challenges I’ve faced while living here: learning to use the greater Madrid area public transportation system. The local trains are a cheap, relatively fast way to get around, something I’ve been taking full advantage of during my weekend trips into the capital. It took some getting used to as it’s not quite as easy as simply tapping your Pitt ID for the Pittsburgh buses. Buying a new ticket every time you travel is an option, but for young people it’s considerably cheaper to get your abono joven (youth pass) and recharge it on a month-to-month basis as needed. I got mine at the beginning of June on the first possible appointment date, and have been using it regularly ever since (I’ve more than made up the twenty euros I paid for it). Some of the larger stations are a bit of a maze, but with practice I’ve started to get a handle on where to find the right platforms, which are usually well marked. My advice for anyone using the metro for the first time would be to go with a friend; even if they’re new as well you’ll feel more confident and less intimidated together. For my upcoming trip I’m going to be using a coach bus and for some later traveling in August the high-speed cross country trains, so wish me luck as I add those onto my Spain transportation experience!

Reviewing my previous posts, I realized that my last three title pictures have been sculptures; this wasn’t planned, but I still think it’s time to shake it up a little. Today’s is a piece of street art I found opposite Alcalá’s train station. Out of all the Don Quixote themed sculptures, murals, memorials, etc. in the city (and they are legion, did I mention it’s Cervantes’ birthplace?), this is probably my favorite.

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