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The Penndulum

An American’s Guide to Madrid & Toledo, Spain

Natalie Pappas
Río Tajo, Maestro Churrero, Toledo

Traveling is a pastime shared by many people around the world. Whether meeting new people, trying new foods, or seeing out-of-this-world sights, traveling is an activity many people dream of doing. Traveling across oceans to a foreign country could be intimidating for an American. To have the best experience in a foreign country, one should understand where they are going. Spain is a heavy tourist location, and in 2022, it received roughly 2.8 million American tourists. When deciding where to visit in Spain, it’s important to remember that Madrid and Toledo are Spain’s two most popular tourist destinations, with beautiful attractions that help tourists make memories that will last forever.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, has many sights, places to visit, and food to try. Some popular photo spots include Palacio Real de Madrid and Parque de Buen Retiro, which have incredible architecture built centuries ago. Heladaría Verdi and Maestro Churrero are popular places for tourists to stop for food in Madrid. Heladaría Verdi mainly serves ice cream and Maestro Churrero churros. Not only does Spain have instant mouth-watering places for food, but it also has a ‘fancier’ Starbucks than what is known by Americans. When asked what to do in Spain for first-time travelers, Maria Lera-Lozano, an 18-year-old who has visited Madrid multiple times, says, “Food in Spain is ten times better because the ingredients are fresh and it is cheaper.” While Starbucks might seem familiar and enjoyable with its fancier setup, Lera-Lozano suggests still trying all Spanish cultural food options at some point on the trip. Lera-Lozano’s best piece of advice is not to be picky. “Try and talk to people and learn about the culture because the people in Spain are very open.” By interacting with those accustomed to the Spanish culture, an American tourist can make the best of a visit to Madrid!

Toledo is another popular destination in Spain and has many attractions for tourists to see and observe the Spanish culture. A common photo spot in Toledo is the Río Tajo, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. A series of tunnels lead up to the bridge for tourists to walk through, and when they arrive, they can enjoy the sights by walking across bridges that run over the river. Similar to Madrid, these attractions had been constructed centuries ago so well that tourists can still enjoy them today. The Primatial Cathedral and Alcazar de Toledo are examples of the intricate architecture of Spanish history. When asked why to travel to Spain, high school senior Jess Gant responds, “…to see the historic buildings and places, the food, and experience the culture.” Gant has never visited Toledo but hopes to study abroad in Spain one day. “I want to study there to see how their education differs from the United States,” commented Gant. Along with this and many other reasons, Toldeo remains a popular destination for American tourists.

Spain has a remarkable culture, with a language, history, and many foods, sights, and sounds for American tourists to swoon over. Traveling overseas to a foreign country could be intimidating for someone who’s never done it before. However, it can be a highly rewarding experience. To successfully travel and to ensure 100 percent relaxation, understanding the culture of where one is visiting is the most helpful thing they can do for themselves. From the people to the places, Spain is a perfect choice for an American searching for a once-in-a-lifetime travel destination!


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About the Contributors
Thomas McGann, Student Writer
Thomas McGann, Grade 12. Interests include running track and cross country.
Natalie Pappas, Student Writer
Natalie Pappas, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include running, going to the gym, reading, NHS, executive council, being with family and friends, traveling, and spending summers at the beach. Natalie plans to further her education at a 4-year university and obtain a nursing degree.  Eventually, she will further her degree to become a nurse practitioner.

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