Three stops in Four days in One blog post

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Dec 21, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Friday (Oct 29) UPO took a trip to Osuna and Estepa, led by my civilization teacher, Enrique.  In Osuna we visited the university, walked by the cathedral and just generally hung out.  This is Enrique's parents home town.  Osuna comes from Latin and means bear, so it is the Land of Bears (although there aren't many bears around anymore, just like there aren't many rabbits left in Spain/Hispania- the land of rabbits).  After Osuna we went to Estepa, Enrique's hometown.  Estepa is extremely hilly (well anywhere is hillier than Sevilla).  We walked by the monestary and convent, saw an old Roman wall, then finally went to the main attraction of our trip:  The Montecado Factory.  Montecados are popular Spanish cookies that are only sold during Christmas time.  And it just so happens that Enrique's grandparents started the factory in Estepa, so Enrique grew up in a cookie factory... qué chulo!  So we got a behind the scenes tour of the factory including the raw materials room, the mixing room, the baking conveyor belt, the chilling room, wrapping and packaging room, and the chocolate room!  It felt like we were in Willy Wonka's world.  We got to sample quite a few, but montecados are extremely rich, so you couldn't eat more than two without feeling full.  Once I got back home I packed and headed to the bus station to continue my weekend by leaving for Madrid with Sidra and Jayme!

The bus ride to Madrid takes 6 hours, so I definitely got some sleep in so I could be ready for a full first day in the capital of Espana.  Sidra has a friend who lives in Madrid, so we met up with him in the morning so he could take us around for the day.  Madrid has three art museums:  the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyson.  On our first day we went to the Prado museum which has many famous paintings by Spanish artists including Diego Velazquez, El Greco, and Goya.  (We unfortunately couldn't take pictures in this museum, so I will add links at the end to some of my favorite paintings I saw).  There was also a Renoir exhibit taking place that we got to see.  The museum is a lot bigger than it seems; we ended up spending almost 4 hours in there!  After the Prado we went to a tapas bar where I had some delicious toast with salmon and brie cheese and a chicken empanada.  In the afternoon/evening we visited the Royal Palace.  We got in just before the ticket office closed.  The palace was georgeous!  It's has such a royal feel to it (so it should since it's a royal palace), but I had never seen anything like it before really.  Each room had such history and luxury that was fit for a king.   After the palace we briefly visited the cathedral which is just across the square, but there was a service going on so we couldn't tour around.  For the rest of the evening we walked around seeing the major monuments and squares in Madrid including Gran Via, the main avenue with many theaters and shops, several puertas (arches), Plaza Mayor, the main square, the Parliment building, where a failed coup d'etat took place a couple years after Franco died, Banco de Espana, and many other places I can't remember the names of. 

Our second day in Madrid was Sunday, which meant there was a street market.  We walked around there for a while until we realized that the Reina Sofia closes early on Sunday.  The Reina Sofia museum is a modern art museum which features Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso among other artists.  I've never been that into the cubism/expressionism style of art (impressionism is my favorite), but after seeing Dali's and Picasso's work in real life I have a new intrest and appreciation for it.  There are so many hidden elements and angles to each work.  I took many pictures at this museum, but I had to sneak a photo the most famous painting- Guernica by Picasso.  It was so hard to take in the enormity and detail of this picture... because there are so many people looking at it and the picture is huge!  It is absolutely amazing!  After the Reina Sofia closed we went to the Botanical gardens for a while which was a nice change of pace.  The trees are beginning to change colors and the crisp air really made it finally feel like fall.  Side note, fall is my favorite season, and Seville does not have a very autumnish atmosphere since there aren't many trees that change colors in Seville.  After the gardens we stopped by Retiro park, but it was too dark to see much (we had put the clocks back for day light savings, so it got dark early), and the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium.  By the time we got to the hostel we were exhausted. 

On Monday Jayme went back early since she had a paper due the next day that she had to work on.  After we saw her off, Sidra and I returned to Parque Retiro for a while.  We just relaxed and took in the autumn air and atmosphere.  We visited the Crystal Palace that is in the park.  It is a random glass building that is hidden in the middle of the trees.  Later we visited the bull ring of Madrid, which is wayyy bigger than the one in Sevilla.  We left Madrid in the evening and had a 7 hour bus ride back home. 

Madrid is so different from the laid back Andalusian life style, but I really enjoyed it.  I loved the art museums and Parque Retiro.  It was so nice to experience a little bit of autumn in Spain :)

Coming up in the next blog will be Granada, and after that will be Morocco!  I only have just over a month left here... I can't believe how fast time has gone here!  I have mixed feelings about the approaching end of my trip.  I can't wait for Christmas and getting to see all of my family again, but I know I am going to miss Europe and having the chance to travel every other weekend

Miss you all!


Links for Artwork I saw at the Prado:

Las Meninas- Velazquez

The Garden of Earthly Delights- Greco

The Adoration of the Shepherds- Greco

The Third of May- Goya

Saturn Devouring his Child- Goya

The Naked Maja- Goya

Children on the Beach- Sorolla,-1910.jpg

Onions- Renoir

The Dog- Goya

Box at the Opera- Renoir

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lacynoel on

So many pictures! ps. You forgot to mention that you are in fact coming to Egypt in less than a month!! Also, I am jealous that your country has seasons...

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