Saturday, August 27, 2011

Madrid Day 2: Being a Tourist

Second day in Madrid and my feet already hurt like heck and smell like dead cheese. We had a full walking day, similar to how it is with my family whenever I travel with them. If this is how it is going to be every day of this trip, I will defiantly be prepared for the 12 kilometers that we will be walking to meet the pope. We began our day by taking the metro and going into the heart of Madrid. Our first stop was the Catedral de Almudena, Madrid's main cathedral, which was built after Madrid became the capital of Spain. It is the only church, outside of any in Rome, to have been consecrated by a Pope. We started the tour of this massive structure inside of the crypt, where we walked on top of a lot of dead people. Next we went into the church sanctuary and walked around for a little bit. It was a fascinating work of architecture because it drew from almost every period in history making it very eclectic. The Spaniards think it is really ugly, but I loved it as did the rest of our group.

I kind of wonder how our tour guides could take us seriously. Wide eyed with wonder and enthusiasm, we suck in every word that they say, and then squeal with delight when we see a tour shop and march out with overpriced t-shirts and coffee mugs. Anywho, our tour guides were WYD volunteers who spoke very little English except for when it came to the architecture. They LOVED giving the history of the architecture and now I know more about the difference between Baroque versus Gothic ceilings than I ever cared to have in my brain. They brought us over to the Palacio Real, the Spanish palace, where the queen and king do not live. We then toured the streets of Madrid, going into every church that we passed (there is virtually one on every street corner) for 3 hours. After our tour, we settle down for a nice lunch of tapas. Tapas are a Spanish version of appetizers. Let me go off on a sidetrack for a second and give you a bit of a Spanish culture lesson. Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, Spaniards stop everything that they are doing and have an afternoon siesta. This is when most shops close and people go home for a big midday meal and nap. Because of the size of this big midday meal, in the evening they only eat a light supper which is oftentimes just tapas. However, Cris really wanted to give us a taste of tapas sooner rather than later, so our group sat down for a meal that seemed to be making fun of us. Imagine a group of 30 hungry girls crowded around a table with a plate of cheese, jamon, and shrimp. It was survival of the fittest. If you didn't arm wrestle you would starve. I am still recovering from the starvation and physical output of this meal and I now know why Spaniards are all so skinny. After being tortured for an hour we went over to Madrid's most famous plaza, Plaza Mayor. We walked around, shopped, and enjoyed the many mimes. I saw a fat spiderman (FAILBLOG!), a headless woman, and a man in a baby carriage...pretending to be a baby.

It takes a very secure man to do that. To conclude our walking, we went to the Prado Museum; one of the world's most famous museums. The museum holds treasures by artists such as El Greco, Fra Angelico, and Velazquez. The high point of the museum for me was seeing "Las Meninas" by Velazquez.

To tour the museum, we split up into smaller, more manageable groups, and unfortunately I was with a group who did not appreciate art at all and so my chaperon rushed us from room to room. I was quite put out. Seriously, one of the most famous art museums in the whole world is not to be rushed through. I almost lost my mind from the inhumanity of these young lassies who barely glanced at Las Meninas. After the museum, I was chosen as one of the lucky few who got to ride home in the car of a friend of one of our chaperon's. The car was incredibly tiny and my knees were up to my chin but we arrived home before everyone else and decided to bide the time by going into a Spanish* grocery store. Travel tip: If you ever travel to Spain bring your own Pringles from the USA because they are very expensive overseas. We ended our day with mass and now it is bedtime!!! Oh, one final note. I spoke lots of Spanish today. I am so excited!

*Note: It may seem silly to put the "Spanish" in front of every location that I went to, and yes I know where I was for 2 weeks. But you must understand how excited I was to go into something that was normal as a supermarket and realize that in fact it was Spanish because it was in Spain, everyone spoke  the Spanish language, and the employees were Spaniards. I am not mocking your intelligence or trying to make mine look nonexistent. I am just an overly enthusiastic tourist. 


  1. i love your experiences!!!

  2. love it! and the pictures are great!