This was my first time in Spain and I was extremely excited about diving into the culture right away. What impressed me the most about Madrid (and later, pretty much all European cities) is the amount of resources and attention devoted to culture, history and the arts. Everywhere, be it in the metro, parks, libraries, train stations, or public squares, there was something artistic. Free exhibits and performances abound. Moreover, many of these cultural events are free, along with Madrid’s great Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum on certain days. I wish there was a bit of this “culture” in San Diego and in most parts of the U.S.
I came to Spain not for the bullfights or flamenco, but for its tapas! Tapas, as I later learned, is any type of bar food. It can be one of three types: individual item that is paid, a plate of items that are free, or self-service in which you pay by the piece. I went to two tapas bars with CouchSurfers Inaki (Spain) and Arnaud (France) and had fun sampling the tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), patatas avioli and a sausage stuffed with rice.