“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


What a day! Today was our first official day touring Madrid. We got an early start and left our hotel a little after 9 am to make the trek out to El Escorial. After hopping on the metro and a bus - we finally got there around 11. I was very surprised by the public transportation system here. It was obvious from the second I got to Madrid that it is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been too - but I was not expecting the metro and bus system to be so efficient and well-maintained. Everything looks brand new. Once you get to the center of the metro station, there are 15 bus stops that take you to various parts around the city of Madrid. All you have to do is hop in line for the bus you want to get on. So easy. The buses are brand new coach buses and are very cheap. Anyway....

El Escorial is at the foot of Mt. Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains. It is a royal palace and monastery and is very impressive to see in person. We took a guided tour (in Spanish!) through some of the rooms and spent most of the tour looking at the tombs of the past kings, queens, and royal family of Spain. It was so amazing to be in a place with such history. There is nothing that compares to it in the United States. We then walked around outside for a bit - the scenery was beautiful. And so was the weather! It was a gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky and almost no humidity.
Me at El Escorial

After that, we made the trip back to Madrid. The girls and I stopped for a light lunch and then went back to the hotel to rest up and take a siesta before the second half of the day.

Around 4 Carmen (our program directory) met up with us and we walked to El Prado, a museum with one of the most impressive art collections in all of the world. I have long admired the work of El Greco and to see many of his pieces in person was amazing. Our favorite piece was "El Jardin de Las Delicias" by El Bosco. For those of you who have never seen/heard of this work - I encourage you to go look it up! We spent a very long time looking at this piece.

El Jardin de Las Delicias por El Bosco
After we left the Prado we decided to walk around outside for a bit. We ended  up in a park right next to the museum and spent hours there. All three of us are big animal lovers, and were so very happy to see dogs running all over this park. We sat down on a bench next to a group of older women who were chatting and had brought their dogs with them. Nearby was a family with young kids and their dog. It was amazing to us that these dogs were all just running around without a leash and the people walking through the park were not bothered by it.

Theresa playing with a cute puppy in the park!
In the couple of hours we spent there, we learned a lot about the Spanish lifestyle - and we love everything about it. Natalie, Theresa, and I are from 3 different parts of the country, but we all have the same opinions of how Americans are. We all agree that in general, we are always in a rush, don't take the time to interact with strangers/get to know them, aren't very friendly, and don't put the family in the center of our lives. The people we saw in Madrid were in no rush to go anywhere. There were people just out for a stroll with their parents, husbands/wives, friends - just enjoying each other's company. The women on the bench next to us were eager to make conversation and were incredibly pleasant - and they were complete strangers. And the family across from us spent hours together just playing outside. The kids were running around, playing jump rope. There were no cell phones, ipods, or video games to be seen. We all commented about how happy we felt just sitting there and being in that environment.

A little before 9 we decided to go on a hunt for some good (and cheap!) tapas. Here in Spain, lunch (almuerzo) is the main meal. It takes place between 2 and 3 and is usually followed my leisure time or a siesta (nap). Dinner is not a big deal as it is in the states, and usually people go out between 9 and 11 for some small appetizers and drinks. We walked around a bit with no particular plan and stumbled across a patio bustling with people and when we noticed a sign for 1 euro beer - we knew we struck gold. For 6 euros we got a plate with chips and a variety of 6 different small sandwiches to share. It was the perfect way to end the night. Good food, good drinks, and good conversation.

OH! One last thing before I head in for the night - whoever said Paris was the city of love, was dead wrong. We have ALL noticed that PDA (public displays of affection) are totally acceptable here. In fact, it is not uncommon to see people full-on making out in the middle of the street or the metro station. Everywhere we turn we are noticing it. Very interesting, very.

Ok, well, its bedtime for me - past midnight here. Tomorrow we are off to Toledo.

Besos y un abrazo

1 comment:

  1. no fair belinda, we can't read spanish!! translate!!! just kidding MB