Monday, September 21, 2009

Spain Day Four And Five: Madrid-Barcelona

On day four in Spain, we slept in (since we'd been out until the not so wee hours of the morning) and then started out the day getting lunch at a cute little restaurant:

Then we returned to the Plaza de Espana so we could see it in the daytime. (This is where we walked after the flamenco show - remember the pic of me in my cute red shoes? :)

This statue is Cervantes, who hails from Madrid, and in front of him (next picture) are his characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (and me):

Then we went to The Prado, which is the largest Spanish museum. It's free on certain evenings, so we could only spend a couple hours there, but that was just enough to see all the big time Spanish artists' works. Of course I couldn't take pictures inside, but here is the outside:

We went home and changed, and went back out again, with one of Adriana's friends, and a couple of his friends. It was a fun evening, but we unfortunately forgot to take pictures. The next morning we dashed to the bus station and almost didn't make it (it was a crazy morning, but I'm going to leave the details out.) Luckily, we got there in time, and we spent 8 hours (!) on a bus to Barcelona, with a couple of stops to eat and stretch our legs. Here are some pictures of our room at the hostel:

Taking a shower in our room was kind of like a circus act, but it was still preferable to the communal shower. (Not because it was gross, just because it was... communal.)

The balcony:

The view from the balcony:

My rash covered, swollen feet:

Some of you may not be super familiar with what my feet and ankles usually look like, but this is HUGE compared to normal.

That evening, we freshened up and walked out to a nice Italian restaurant where I had some delicious Gnocci, and then we sat in the street and had gelato for dessert:

More Barcelona fun to come!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spain Day Three: Toledo

On my third morning in Spain, we headed down to the Atocha Train Station in Madrid, which is a pretty amazing sight itself. Inside the station is a little jungle, with tons of plants and trees and... turtles!

We took a train to Toledo. During our trip, Adriana and I spent so much time on buses, trains, and subway cars, that we took to playing games. We played word games with the alphabet, and question games, and a favorite was a game to do with rating the attractiveness of celebrities. :) It was quite entertaining, and we were pretty much never bored. When we arrived, we grabbed sandwiches, and then began exploring. Below you can see the stone fortification (the castle-y thing), called Alcazar de Toledo.

Toledo was the home of El Greco, a very famous Spanish painter, and it is located in the region of Castile-La Mancha, which was home to the well known and well loved characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. :)

Toledo, as I've mentioned, was one of my favorite parts of the trip, not just because of the history and the grand buildings, but the narrow walkways and cobblestone streets give it that small-town European charm.

We stopped to take pictures of the cathedral, and lay down in the grass. Keep in mind, that it was 112+ degrees that day. When we sat down, the grass felt so cool and refreshing, that I lay flat with my face in it. Weird, I know, but you do what you must to cool down.

Then we continued to explore:

At the end of the day, we took a train back, freshened up, and believe it or not, headed back out again. We went to the Berlin Cabaret, where we danced our little hearts out. :) Every so often, they stopped everyone from dancing, and put on a flamenco show. As you can see below, there's a round part of the stage where the dancers come out, and Adriana and I discovered that it's bouncy - like dancing on a trampoline - so we had a great time. The end to another great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spain Day Two: Madrid

On the second day in Madrid, we started the day by returning to the Royal Palace so that we could tour the inside. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures inside, but I can assure you it was glamorous, decadent, and well... fit for a king! :) We took some pictures in the courtyard though.

This is the view from the courtyard, and you see those two tall buildings in the background? The one on the left is Adriana's apartment building!

We headed to the Plaza Santa Ana for lunch. On the way, I saw this ham shop ("Museum of Ham") that I had to take a picture of. I don't know why, it's just very... Spanish. :)

For lunch we had some delicious tapas and amazingly sweet and fruity sangria!

After lunch, we went to... believe it or not... the pool! Not a tourist attraction per se, but it was soo hot, and sounded so amazing, so we did it anyway. And it was glorious.

We returned home to shower and change and then headed out to a little cafe/bar to watch a flamenco show! It was really fun, all the passionate singing and stomping and spinning... I enjoyed it. And I found out gypsies still exist. That blows my mind. I thought they were basically fairy tale characters. :)

After the show, we wandered through Plaza de Espana (I can't make a tilde with my computer) and took some pics by the fountain. It was necessary that my beautiful red shoes get captured, since it was the only time I was able to wear them, before my feet went to hell in a handbasket.

We continued on to have drinks at a cute little bar that played American hard rock music. We chatted with Luca, the Italian bartender, who made us yummy drinks (the Spanish are not big on mixed drinks, so this was exciting.) Adriana had assured me that Spanish men would stare but not approach, but as soon as she left me alone to go to the bathroom, they flocked. Ha. The good that came out of it (besides some much needed Spanish practice) was that the men suggested that Adriana take me to Toledo instead of Segovia, as we'd planned. We took their advice, and as it turned out, Toledo was one of the highlights of the trip! So thanks, random Spanish men. Look forward to pics from day three (Toledo!) coming soon.