Friday, August 15
With only two full days remaining of the Swarthmore Women's Soccer Team's international training trip in Spain, Friday marked a more diverse and structured schedule than did our first day in Madrid. As always, the day began with a delicious buffet spread in the hotel lobby before the bus departed for the training site of La Liga's Getafe for a behind the scenes look at the professional club's training session. It was a great opportunity for both the players and the coaches to see such a high level team in the training atmosphere.
Up next was a guided bus tour of downtown Madrid. The team was afforded the opportunity to depart the bus on a few occasions. One such stop was at the Plaza de Toros, a historic bullfighting arena. While we were there, tickets were on sale for the 20,000 seat complex for a live bull fight that evening. We learned that although bullfighting was banned in Barcelona approximately 2 years ago, it continues in Madrid and other parts of the country. The common understanding among Spaniards is that one either loves or hates the sport. While we did not have the opportunity on this trip to witness such an event, it was really cool to see the arena itself.
We also stopped at Plaza de Colon (the plaza dedicated to Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America). The team enjoyed some photo opps, and the senior class specifically enjoyed posing as a statue.
Next up was some free time for lunch where team members elected to go for a run, workout in the fitness center, walk around Madrid and/ or enjoy some snacks and coffee at the nearby Starbucks to use the free wee-fee (wi-fi). Priorities included checking Swat mail, upcoming RA responsibilities and the housing list, as we got closer to our return date to campus.
The final scheduled activity of the day was a trip to the historic city of Toledo (the former capital city of Spain). After an hour-long bus ride, the team experienced a guided tour that covered the architectural, religious, and historical highlights of the city. By chance, our visit coincided with the Assumption of Mary. Each year, on that day, the custom in Toledo is to drink water from the well in the church that once housed a statue of the Virgin Mary. After watching two older women demonstrate the ideal drinking technique, the Swarthmore women took the opportunity to stay hydrated, partaking in the provided H2O.
After the formal guided tour was complete, the players were free to roam the city to shop and find dinner. Afterwards, the women returned to the hotel afterwards to sleep and prepare for the final full day in Spain.