Tapas y Unigons

3 Sep

Estamos en Madrid!!

So we arrived at our hotel after a short bus ride, with pretty scenic views. We were assigned rooms with our roommates for our houses. Savannah hadn’t arrived yet, so I went up by myself. After walking around the hotel for a bit, I met a friend, Danielle, who has an awesome camera and amazing sense of style. We decided to go out and try to get something to eat- and not from the McDonalds next door. We went out to a tapas bar, but I didn’t end up getting anything to eat. Mostly I just didn’t know what to order- too many choices!- so we hung out and talked.

Things to note about tapas::
1. They are cheaper if you eat them in the bar than if you eat them at a table.
2. Cañas are cute mini glasses of beer, so if you don’t like beer (as we don’t), don’t order those, even if its cheaper to get the tapas with them.

We took a bus tour through the city of Madrid- it was beautiful. We passed a lot of places we later visited and walked to, so in retrospect it was even cooler.

Later, after settling in, a shower, and meeting roommates (P.S. Savannah loves Doctor Who and wants to travel and ride horses with me. Meant to be.), we headed out for the second round of tapas! A lot of people came, and it was kind of crazy because the bar was already really crowded, but for the record, I loved that place. (Apparently its a chain and there might be one in Sevilla!)

Day two in Madrid was full of ‘visitas.’ Tours and visiting cultural landmarks with a guide. We had the choice of a Spanish speaking tour guide, or we could take the tours in Spanglish or English. We chose Spanish, and it was so worth it.

We went first to the Museo del Prado, which had one of the most amazing art exhibits I’ve ever witnessed. We spent some time discussing el Greco, Velazquez, and Goya. It is one thing to read about these men, their lives, and the works they have created. It is quite another to listen to those detail while staring intently at the work itself. I saw el Greco’s works in all of their colorful beauty. I saw paintings of the king that Velazquez retouched after the king complained that it looked too much like the painting of his brother (you can still see the leg that he painted over, it’s amazing). I saw the literal walls of Goya’s house that had been cut out and relocated to the museo. I can’t even explain all of the beauty and history of these paintings. Even just the history behind the building is astounding. That’s one thing I love about Spain, and I’m sure Europe in general… there is history behind everything.

Our second visita was to the Palacio Real. This is the Royal Palace, in all its glory.

As magnificent as it is outside, its even more beautiful inside, and I wish more than anything that we were allowed to take pictures of it. (But we couldn’t.) So, I will quickly sum up the 19 ish rooms (out of thousands mind you) that we did visit. This is seriously the most ornate and beautifully decorated building I’ve ever seen. There are beautiful colors, symbols, and rooms for every occasion you could ever need a room for. The King and Queen don’t actually live here, they live a little outside Madrid I think, but they do use the Palacio for formal events and meetings with ambassadors from other countries. They have the largest Stradivarius collection in the world- 5 pieces. I think a couple violins, a viola and two cellos maybe. The second largest collection is 4 pieces. Drool. Those are beautiful instruments. We saw the room that the king gets ready for formal dinners in, with its entire wall covered in embroidered silk, which took 26 years for the artisans to finish. We saw the room one of the queens specifically redesigned for use after formal dinners. We saw the billiard room and the room where agreements were signed and the room for the musicians to play (specifically crafted for perfect sound). After we finished drooling over these sights, we stepped outside to look at this panoramic view:

Jealous?

There was also a pharmacy and an armory. The pharmacy was beautiful, with tons of glasses and flasks and pictures of the doctors to the kings on the wall. We went to the armory, which originally I wasn’t too excited about, but there were so many horse statues with armor on them! Our favorite had a sort of Chinese dragon on the armor, complete with scales on the headpiece. It also had a sort of unicorn horn, ergo, the Unigon (which is better than a dragcorn).

After the Palacio, we went to a cute tapas bar, where I had this crazy amazing potato dish. We sat by a window that looked out directly on a cathedral:

It was amazing.

After the cathedral, we headed to the Plaza de España. The plaza is amazing. Just walking into it was an experience. Once we got inside and sat down, we were approached by Spiderman, pronounced ‘Speedermahn.’ Love that accent. He started strutting past us, Jim Carrey in the Grinch style, and started talking to us. Dan, the only guy in our group, was asked how he managed to hang out with the five most beautiful girls in Spain. So Speedermahn had us pose with him for pictures (which will be posted as soon as I steal them from friends’ facebooks). Our quote of the day, from Speedermahn to Dan: No, be sehxy, not geh.

When we started baking in the sun, we decided to wander. Our goal was to eventually find the Parque de Retiro, kind of a central park for Madrid. We figured if we walked through the whole thing, we would pass  a cute pond, a rose garden, and end up close-ish to our apartment.

We took pictures, walked around, looked at the people dressed like statues, and discussed our favorite animals and what we would ride into battle on if given the choice (horse and velociraptor, respectively).

Things to note:
1. Spain is so eco-friendly.  I feel like we emphasize it a little in the states, we might be almost obnoxious about it, but Spain is all about keeping the planet together. Clearly marked recycling bins are everywhere, napkins are thin, water is used sparingly. I even saw a song on tv today saying, don’t kill our planet please!

2. Lexie- they drive on the right side of the road! There are lines dividing traffic, but I’m not sure the drivers are super aware of that. Also, there are more roundabouts here than I’ve ever seen in my life! Every major intersection is a roundabout.

After that, we headed out to Toledo, which I will write about and post pictures of so so soon! Thanks for reading this mess of stuff, and please feel free to leave comments- I love them!

Love from España!!

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4 Responses to “Tapas y Unigons”

  1. Madre September 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I look forward to your updates so I can visit Spain through your eyes! What are the odds of your roomie liking Dr. Who! awesome~ ok so they drive on the correct side as in the same as the USA or the driver is on the right side-we just had a whole conversation about it! Love you babe

  2. ceravw September 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Sounds like you are having a wonderful time so far! Soak it all in, and enjoy- oh and keep-um coming!!! Loved reading about your adventuras!

  3. fonda September 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    well it looks like you are getting settled in your new surroundings–can’t wait to see the place you are going to be staying in. Miss you girl–have fun
    love ya
    Fonda

  4. Jess September 4, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Madre- they drive where we drive- on the right! slash the ‘correct side.’
    Cera- Hard to say how much will be interesting once I start classes, but for sure there will be more posts! 🙂
    Fonda-I’ll take pictures soon!! Maybe even a video if I can! Its beautiful!

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