Wednesday, January 7

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When we got to the airport, I noticed two things right away: 1) It smelled like cigarettes in the airport. They had a smoking area, but it was wide open to the rest of the room. So different than back home. 2) The toilets were a different shape. More square. Weird.

Took a taxi to our hotel, since we had no idea where we were going. When we got to our room, “Don’t You Want Me” by Human League was playing—loudly—on our arrival. Also the TV welcomed us by name. Awesome.

My first thoughts on being in another country: I’m surprised how many signs are in English. Overall, the cars are much smaller than in the U.S., and they’re all different styles. Wonder why we don’t have these cars. They’re cute. No one seems to stay in the lanes on the streets. It’s like the lanes are more of a suggestion than the rule. I’m feeling very American and lacking in cultural awareness and language skills. It’s hard to be somewhere where you don’t know what things say or what people are saying.

Andrew and I wandered around Madrid all afternoon, since we didn’t meet up with our tour group until 7:00. We took the bus to El Rastro, an outdoor market that sold clothes, hats, scarves, bags—all kinds of stuff. I’m pretty proud of us for figuring out the bus—how to pay, how much to pay, where to get off. I can do subways, no problem, but I find buses much more complicated.

Yes, he is playing the water glasses. Awesome.

We were starving, so we stopped in a little place for café con leche and ham and cheese sandwich and tortilla espanola. Next we walked to the Plaza Mayor, which was very cool. We saw some musicians on the street playing the Pachelbel Canon. Basically we wandered in a big circle. Came upon the royal palace, but couldn’t go in because it was closing soon. The guard suggested we go to the Prado museum because it was free from 5:00 to 8:00 (but it was only 2:00). We took the subway to the museum. So glad we learned the New York subway system.

We paid 6€ each for the Prado, which is not free. It was okay. Liked "The Garden of Earthly Delights." At the museum cafeteria, we got more café con leche. So tasty.
Did someone say jet lag?

Next we walked over to the big park that was right by the Prado. It reminded us of Central Park, because it was just so huge, with lots of walking paths. I thought it would’ve been pretty in the summer. It actually started to snow while we were there, though just flurries. It was quite cold. We saw a monument to Alphonso, whoever that is. There was a lake with lots of koi and lots of people in rowboats, in spite of the cold weather.

We walked back to the Plaza Mayor and El Rastro, not because we wanted to see them again, but because that was where we knew we could catch the bus back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at a little outdoor market area and bought some pastry that was similar to Boston cream pie. Funny that we’ve come all this way and got something like that. Don’t regret it though—it was delicious. We got off the bus too early, though, and had to walk about five blocks anyway. Did tons of walking today. Maybe five or six miles? Not sure.

We were glad we were wearing our fleeces and coats. Wished I’d gotten out my gloves, though.

We met up with our tour group at 7:00pm. There are only 17 people in our group. We’re the only Americans. I think one other woman has a U.S. passport, but I don’t think she’s been in the U.S. very long. She’s got a very strong accent, not sure where she’s from.

We met a couple from Australia. They’re awesome and very close to our age. Natalie and Mark. We ate dinner with them and really hit it off. We laughed and joked, like we’ve known them forever. They’re very funny and very smart. Mark’s studying medicine (I love how they talk—we’re meeting them for brekky in the morning) and Natalie does logistics for the navy.

Dinner was included with the tour, and we were each allotted one bottle of wine per table. The four of us sat together, and drank our wine pretty quickly. Another table from our group gave us the remaining 1/3 of their bottle of wine, then Mark sweet-talked the waiter into giving us another bottle, then Natalie stole another table’s remaining 2/3 bottle when they left. Plenty of wine was drunk. Fun times. Feel like this is going to be a great trip.

1 comment:

Kenton said...

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of my favorites. I had a poster of it in my room in collage.