Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Madrid

By Tindall Sewell and Caroline Brown
 


During our two bus trips to Zaragoza and Segovia, we’ve noticed Spain’s beautiful countryside, covered with fields of sunflowers and mountainous towns.  Zaragoza had a beautiful Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar with frescos by Goya.

Fun fact: In Zaragoza, we made it onto the Spanish television as an example of viewers judging suggestively dressed people, which somehow translated into the difference of showing versus teaching.  We ate lunch on the Main Plaza of Zaragoza and relaxed during our bus ride from Barcelona to Madrid.

We also took a bus from Madrid to Segovia, to spend the day in the quaint town with windy cobblestone streets and unique architecture.  The Cathedral stands out with its gothic architecture and classy décor.  But the main draw of Segovia is the Alcázar Castle, which Walt Disney actually modeled Sleeping Beauty’s castle after this gorgeous sight.  Following the lead of Lina’s friends, we’ve been planking in famous town squares, but we decided to plank on the monstrous Roman aqueduct in Segovia too.  What better way to see the view than perched on the edge of the wall?!





We’ll finally be traveling to Cádiz tomorrow and can’t wait for the slower paced lifestyle.  Although we’ve been here for a week, we have not slowed down to take a real ciesta.  We can’t wait to meet our mom and get into our new routine life for the next month!

10 facts we’ve learned so far in Spain:
1. Water for free does not exist, so 1.5 liter bottles are sold everywhere.
2. Ham and cheese sandwiches replace turkey and lettuce.
3. We’re taller than the general Spanish woman’s population, garnering extra stares.
4. White bread or French bread comes with every meal… I don’t remember what wheat bread tastes like.
5. Spanish tortilla is the best thing you’ll ever eat until you realize that it’s served all the time and everywhere.
6. This past week was Gay Pride week in Madrid: rainbows covered the city giving us a different perspective on the culture.
7. McDonald’s hamburger and fries is 7 Euro’s (around $10.50), so there’s no such thing as the Euro (Dollar) Menu.
8. Don’t try to take a picture down the middle of the street because cars don’t follow the red stopping signal.
9. Starbucks are internationally on every corner.
10. The maid comes to remake your bed around 6pm after ciesta time, which are necessary.

Imagine trying to do an exercise circuit on a City’s busiest street…. People stopped to watch us do each station from planks to sprints.  Our overview tour of Madrid, a walking tour through the historic district, was informational but an overload of Spanish to start the day, trying to understand the tour guide. Eventually, each city’s Cathedral seems the same, but this one stood out as our favorite.  Madrid’s Cathedral de la Almudena has painted ceilings, vibrant stain-glass windows, and intricate stonework. Why did citizens in the sixteen or seventeenth century put so much money into this creation? At the same time, no building during my lifetime compares to the innovative architecture of the Cathedrals, palaces, and basilicas. The Plaza Mayor, Retiro Gardens, Plaza Sol, theatres, Plaza de la Villa, and Palacio Real were other highlights of the tour! 

To get around, Spaniards walk everywhere and public transportation is always the second option, easily one Euro to get anywhere.  For lunch, most restaurants have a standard price, 10-12 Euros, for three courses and a drink.  We dined at VIPS, which is a similar chain to TGI Fridays and popular lunch spot.  For the afternoon plan, we quickly walked through Reina Sophia to see Pablo Picasso’s famous painting, Guernica.  Then, we walked through the rooms of the Prado with some of the most recognized artwork. Rafael, Velasquez, Goya, and many other early Spanish artists are some of the few we stopped to see.

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