Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

January 23, 2011

Vamos a Valencia

So after Toledo, we had one last night in Madrid.  Much of the group went out, but I was still exhausted and there was no way I could do another crazy noche. Entonces, I went to bed early and got up with Katherine and David to go to mass at the  cathedral behind the Palacio Real. Correction, we attempted to go to mass.

We got up at 6:30 and Madrid was still rocking from the night before, and when I was ready to leave at 7, there was silence.  There is a very brief 30 minute period between the revelry from the night before and the commute the next morning.  It was beautiful to walk around the city while the sun rose and the city started to stir.  Of course, whilst admiring, we became quite lost.  We thought mass started at 8:30, and if that was the case, we would just have to be a little late.  En realidad, we got there at around 9, but mass did not start until noon.  Unfortunately, we had to leave Madrid at noon.  We also wanted to see Guernica at El Museo Renia Sofia and thought on our way maybe we could catch a mass.  One would think that in the most Catholic country in Europe, that would be possible on the Lord’s Day.  Well you would be wrong.  We did not make a mass, but we did get to marvel a Guernica (for free!) when the museum opened at 10:30.  It was marvelous to see the HUGE painting and also its progression from sketch to masterpiece.  I adore paintings that fill up a room. They possess this gravitas that few other forms of art rival.  I wish I had more time at Renia Sofia.  It has a little bit more modern art and I really love Picasso.  I also really enjoyed how they displayed the art work. Simple white walls and few pieces.  The painting felt like they had been picked out especially for this room next to this other painting, but the paintings never ran together. They each had their own space and story.

At noon, we all piled onto the (much smaller) bus, and made our way to Valencia! Mostly I slept, but occasionally I would wake up to see a beautiful olive grove or an incredible lagoon.  It baffles me that there is such natural beauty in the world just waiting calmly to be appreciated. After about 5 hours we rolled into Valencia to unload and get into the Rector Peset.  There was a welcoming committee (sort of) of Spanish students that were clapping as we walked through to get to the elevator.  It might have been welcoming, but frankly it was terrifying! Then I finally got unpacked.  It feels great to be settled somewhere, and to start becoming a part of a community.  Classes started Tuesday (18/1).  More on that later!

January 18, 2011


The internet was not working well in Madrid, and I had almost no down time to blog. Now that I have a stable internet connection, get ready!

Old restaurant in the world!

After the airport, we hopped on a bus to the Hotel Tryp Gran Via.  The hotel was in a great position, and Gran Via is the Broadway of Madrid.  I loved how alive the city was! There were tons of people and cars and shops and plazas and tiny winding streets.  Four people from our group arrived a couple of days before the rest of the group, so they knew the lay of the land.  We ate little bitty sandwiches and drank tinto de verano at Cien Montaditos.

Plaza Mayor

I really love eating outside and people watching.  It’s truly incredible to realize the people all around me have their own personal story and hopes and dreams and thoughts all in English or Spanish or one of the hundreds of other languages in the world or a mix of many.  After walking around the city, we siesta-ed because we knew we wanted to experience the heartbeat of the city, its night life.

And the plazas truly pulse with life at night.  Madrid takes on a completely different personality.  It’s filled with club promoters, tourists, street performers, and locals all chasing la noche, and the night lasts until the wee hours of the morning. We started out at O’Reilly’s for sangria (ironic I know, an “Irish pub” for a traditional Spanish drink).  Of course not used to the time schedule we started much too early. Nothing really gets going in Madrid until midnight, and then if you want the discotecas to be busy you have to wait until 3 AM. After the sangria, we walked next door to a salsa club with a name I can’t remember (something like El Sol de…) I danced merengue with a Spaniard and then danced with some guys from the group we came with. About 2 AM we decided we could neither salsa nor merengue any more, and left looking for a discoteca. At this point our group had dwindled to five. Along the way, we ran into a club promoter from Joy with a good deal and decided to go there. It was student night, so the club was packed with young people and mostly tourists at that. The music was very similar to the popular music in the States, and we all danced until the club shut down at 6 AM.

Look at that beautiful Spanish sun!

The next morning, I slightly regretted the decision to stay out and survive on two hours of sleep because we walked EVERYWHERE! We walked to Palacio Real (the Royal Palace, but every time I look at it I think real palace).  It was truly incredible to think about the level of craftsmanship and dedication that went in to making a palace that large and ornate.  I couldn’t take pictures, but just so you know in the throne room, there is a wall covered in velvet with intricate gold embroidery.  After that we had lunch and then trekked a Del Prado.  This is the time I really wish I knew a lot more about Spanish art because then I could really enjoy the whole museum.  I loved getting to see Las Meninas though because we studied it in Señor’s class.  To stand in front of the painting and just soak it in made me feel much more connected to art. Then there was dinner and an early night!

Palacio Real

I have no idea what this is, but I like the picture!

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