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For The Memories, Babe Finding myself in a rut, I've decided to try something new. Or a few things new actually. I've taken a job as an au pair. And moved to a different country. And don't know anyone else. And am directionally impaired. Here goes nothing...

Madrid- The Finale

NETHERLANDS | Wednesday, 30 April 2008 | Views [1298] | Comments [3]

I know it's been a few days, but remember- I took notes this trip!

So, continuing with my Madrid description for those of you that don't read in bulk (i.e. Rochelle)...

Wednesday was the second part of my museum tour. This time I went to Museo del Prado, which is the main museum in Madrid. It had a lot of great stuff, but I didn't spend as much time there as in the Thyssen. I still had lots on the To Do List, so another three hours couldn't be dedicated to browsing. I will note however that my favorite part was an exhibit of the Dark Period by this famous Spanish artist, Goya. Generally most of his work was kind of pastoral scenes of people playing in parks and carnivals. He must have gotten tired of the shiny, happy people at some point though, because he later had this whole time where he painted some pretty grotesque scenes. Case in point, a man eating a baby's head. Including blood and guts. Really disturbing stuff. After leaving the museum, and subsequently returning due to forgetting my jacket on a bench, I headed into the Jardines Botanique. This is the botanical garden (kind of obviously) which was conveniently located right next to the Museo del Prado. The best part of the garden (besides the gorgeous flowers- which are included in my "Madrid" photo gallery), was the first-hand observation of the siesta concept. People just kind of sprawled out anywhere in the sun, taking naps or just lounging with a book. Perfect for me! I even tried it out, but kind of felt like I was on display. Oh, well, I tried. I also went to the Atocha train station, which has it's own garden inside, complete with misters tons of plants, and a turtle pond!

The other main attraction for the day was Parque del Buen Retiro, a HUGE park, taking up like an entire quarter of my map. It is this expansive garden that is actually made up of something like 15 different types of gardens and parks. There is a Spanish garden, a Greek garden, a sport complex thing with tennis courts and little well-manicured soccer fields, a few sculpture gardens, and this huge man-made lake thing that they have paddle-boating in. It's pretty impressive. I could've stayed there all day, but I was scheduled to meet up with Alex (my CS host), that night for tapas and a meeting with some friends of his.

Alex and I first headed over to a bar that a friend of his owns and had Italian food and some great Rosado wine. Kind of a mix between a red and a zinfindel. Pretty good. Then we jumped on his motorcycle and headed back to Retiro where they were having "Book Day", which is where all of the libraries and book stores stay open until like midnight, and others set up shops in part of the park and sell books super cheap. I got a trash novel to read on the plane (1 euro), Lila by Pirsig- which I think Dave loaned me and I never finished (1 euro), and my Spain souvenior, a 1927 edition of a Tarzan novel all in Spanish (not 1 euro). I love it! After finding our purchases, we went to have tapas at this bar in the gay district of Madrid, which was fantastic. The bar we went to is more crowded than Sidebar on a Thursday night, but they give you plates of random food with every drink you order. And not just like a few chips or something. We're talking heaping piles of brochetta with ham, some type of pork kabob thing, roasted potatoes, and more. It's kind of cool because you don't even order it. They just hand you a plate with your drink (mine was some type of cider-also pretty good). After we had our fill, we went to meet up with his friends back at the first bar we had been (that his friend owned) and hung out in a little private lounge. It was really nice. Plus, I got to zip around Madrid on the back of a motorcycle, which I'm sure my dad is not thrilled about, but is definitely the way to see the city in my opinion.

Thursday morning I decided to leave the city of Madrid, and take a day-trip to Toledo, a little town about an hour away by bus. Toledo was very authentic feeling. It's still a very undeveloped town, I think, but there is a ton of tourist activity because of it. No gas stations or fast food joints, just hand-crafted jewelry and leather makers, plus some souvenior shops and little privately-owned cafes. Also lots of ice cream vendors. The best way to get a feeling of Toledo is to look at the photo gallery. It was kind of an indescribable experience. I was lost most of the day, which was really frustrating, but I did hit the main spots. I'm not sure of all of the names of the sites, but there were cathedrals and mosques and lots of picture points. It was very much what my idea of Spain was before I got there. Like you would see in a coffee table book of Spain. Not at all metro, just dirt roads and friendly people.

So, while I didn't get to see any flamenco dancing (that was the only other thing I could think of to do in Spain-haha), I did see a lot of new things. Spain was definitely my favorite place I've been so far. I didn't want to leave! Plus, I was really surprised to realize how much Spanish I knew! I never took it in school, but I guess you just kind of pick it up without realizing it. OTB and Guapo certainly help :)

But the main thing I learned through this and my other trips is that I can be self-sufficient. My main journey that I wanted to take this year wasn't across the Atlantic. It was internal. I needed to know that while I may rely on others for support, I can actually do things for myself and meet my goals. Hell, I've been to places in the last few months where I don't speak the language, don't know the customs, won't eat the food, and found a place to sleep, things to eat, and how to get around in public transportation. That being said, the last two stops on my voyage will be Italy (probably Rome) and Greece. Then I think I will be coming home! Get the welcome wagon ready, because I'm planning to return mid-June or mid-July, depending on how soon I can complete these other two trips and not leave the family completely screwed.

As usual, thanks to everyone who reads these blogs. And I'll see you all sooner than expected!

Fin for now,




I think the guy who painted the "man eating head of baby" picture probably was a member of our favorite anti-Nancy Grace facebook group!

Mid-June OR mid-July?? I really need you to get your story straight.

  Lauren May 1, 2008 1:49 PM


Better be Mid-June!

  Josh Torres May 3, 2008 1:42 PM


No kidding! If we (and by we, it was pretty much implied that they meant I) find someone in time, then I can leave. If not I have to wait for their vacation mid-July. Irritating.

  katieback May 4, 2008 6:13 AM



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