HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!
So let’s see…I cant remember anything specific before leaving for Madrid to report on, so we’ll just pretend there was nothing!
I had to skip class (shame on me?) on Thursday in order to get to the bus to the airport on time. The bus ride went fast and Carolyn and I talked about home and how we are confused about our minor homesickness even though we absolutely love being in Barca. It’s so strange. Once we got to the airport, we had about an hour before our plane was supposed to board, so we got some lunch and hung out. However, our plane was late getting in, so it ended up being more like a 2 hour wait, at least 45 minutes of which we were standing in line. Oh well. We got in with no problems and headed off to find the metro station that’s in the airport. There were these Romanian? guys in front of us who kept turning around and looking at us. Umm, really? If you’re going to talk about us, at least be more secretive!! Goodness! 180 degree turns are quite obvious if you ask me! We got to our hostel, dropped off our stuff and went wandering. We ended up in the Plaza de Santa Ana where we found a Lorca statue and of course took some pictures with our poet laureate! Since we hadn’t eaten in about 7 hours, fuimos de cañas…aka we got some beer and tapas! And you know what? I love Madrid for the simplest reason—they all speak real Spanish and like speaking it with non-natives!!! No joke, when the waiter found out we spoke Spanish, he was all, “how cool,” and then kept coming back to our table unnecessarily just so he could say silly things to us in Spanish and see our reaction. Since Kelly and Amy still wouldn’t be in for a few hours, we headed back to the hostel to relax. I took a nice nap and Carolyn didn’t? I’m not sure what she did. But when we got there, we went back to the plaza where we ran into some drunk Spaniards. The guy came up to us and was like “are you going out?!?!!?!?” We said we were going out to dinner and he said, “noooooo.” Then he proceeded to ask what music we like and since no one responded for some reason, I said rock music to which he responded, “no te creo!!!” He then asked me to name one band and I gave him about 7 before he stopped me on Pink Floyd when he started singing and acting like a bird? I don’t know. He was quite an individual. He asked if we were English, we said no. Then he asked if Kelly was Italian and talked to Amy in English. When we told him she spoke Spanish, he said, “its okay, he speaks English! He’s in a band!” Okay, I don’t really care about you and your sketchy friend, but thanks for the biographical info! Before finally leaving us, he gave us all jolly kisses on the cheek. Oh Spain, I never know what to expect from you! We went and got dinner with Kelly and Ames and then headed back home for a night of non sleep!
So on Friday morning I woke up and went to go put my contacts on, but as it turns out, my face wash had leaked, gotten into my contact case, created a bubble bath in the right contact tray, and dried out my contact. In a desperate attempt to resuscitate my beloved right contact, I put water on it and it ripped in half. I screamed a lot and freaked out in my mind. So I wandered around the hostel with one contact in, thinking that the last time this happened I was at the Flogging Molly concert and unable to see properly. Poo. Then to make things in Spain more interesting, we got an e-mail from UIUC study abroad saying that the Basque extremist group ETA (who bombed the trains in Madrid a few years back), might launch a retaliatory attack due to the arrests in France and Spain on Monday of six of its members, including its suspected leader ….great. Oh well though. Its not like I’m going to just sit around in the hostel!! Thank God that Carolyn has practically the same prescription and was smart enough to bring her glasses. Armed with Carolyn’s glasses, I was ready to conquer the Escorial!! We took a metro to the Renfe station and then took about an hour long train to El Escorial! Let me just say…Basilio was right!! That place IS impresionante! It’s Philip XII’s symbol of power since it was made so huge. It represented masculinity, war, and death. There are the tombs of the past kings in one area (which we didn’t get to go into, but looked amazing), and then tombs of other members of the royal family. In its lifetime, El Escorial has functioned as a monastery for nuns, a holding area for soldiers, a cemetery for the Spanish kings starting in 1500 to the present king who will be buried there, a private university, and a huge library. They built an artificial lake by it because the king could only eat fish for some reason? There’s a statue of Saint Lawrence on the front and lots of gridirons on the outside of the building because that’s now Saint Lawrence died (he was burned / “grilled” to death). It has the 3rd biggest dome in the world and was very expensive to construct. We were so tired when we got home that all we wanted to do was sleep, but since we are warriors, we raged on. After going back to the hostel for a bit, we wandered over to Plaza Mayor where they were having a HUGE Christmas market! They had these enormous light up snowflakes suspended over the plaza and lights hanging off the balconies. There were bands playing Christmas music and people singing together. It was so cool! So we walked through all the stands and looked at all the stores in the plaza. It was awesome! For dinner we ended up getting churros and chocolate. Very interesting since I’ve never had it before. We’re so healthy!!
After another night of non sleep we got up early so we could squeeze the rest of Madrid into one day! First we headed over to the Plaza del Sol, where we got to see the famous statue of a bear climbing the madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid! After taking some pictures and getting offered a free tour (3 hours long, yeah right!), we went to check out the Palacio Real. It was big. It was kind of hard to get the complete experience since there were blue metal fences up in front of it from a concert that must have been there the night before. Either way, we found ways to amuse ourselves by taking silly pictures by the row of kings and such. We are so American. In attempt to appear more sophisticated, we hit up the museums of Madrid! First up was the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art which contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein! It was so weird to see famous paintings in the flesh. So weird. We were all secretly starving by that point and decided to get some lunch! On the way, we spotted a building that had figures of the characters of Las Meninas on the balconies. How creative! Then we went to the Prado which was even MORE mind-blowing. It was so incredibly amazing to see all the famous paintings of Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, and Caravaggio since we learned all about them in Basilio’s class. We all screamed when we saw Las Meninas, which the lady said is a norm reaction for people when they see it for the first time. Gaah! I still cant believe I saw the real ones! THE REAL ONES!! Good God! They’re all so much cooler in real life. Gotta love historia del arte! Speaking of, Basilio said today that childbirth is horrifying and that he would prefer it if women laid eggs and that kids just broke out of them all happy. Such a silly old man! He said some other shockers today and then just chuckled like a little kid afterwards. He is quite the character, that one is! But yeah, before going to the last museum on our list, we went to the Retiro, which is Spain’s equivalent of Central Park. Even though it was raining at that point, it was still cool! It turns out that the Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center was free when we went, yay! And guess what was inside?? GUERNICA!! So huge!! It was so cool! Picasso was so bomb! They also had a lot of stuff by Dalí and Miró and had a room dedicated to the Generation of 27, which is a whole other story….dont get me going on them! We ended up having another unhealthyy dinner at Starbucks where I had a hot chocolate and a piece of cheesecake, hah! Oh gosh.
Sunday morning I got up at 5:07 to get ready to go home. I was nodding off the entire way, but since I cant sleep sitting up, it was more like cruel and unusual punishment. So to keep me occupied, I started to read our next book for cinema class which is about a prostitute named Patty Diphusa. Such a class act!
16 December 2008
CHRISTMAS DECORATED ROOM PICS ARE HERE!!