Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Madrid, Claro que si!

Sitting on the plane headed for Madrid, I tried to remember everything I could about Spanish History.

~Despite its fame as a Catholic nation, originally Muslims settled the city.
~Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon's marriage brought together their two kingdoms, which was beginning of the unification of Spain.
~The same couple funded Columbus and sent him off to the new world
~Their daughter, Catherine, was Henry VIII's first wife who, when she wouldn't grant him a divorce to marry Anne Boleyn, became one of the main contributors to the creation of the Anglican Church.
~They had a dictator named Franco.
~There was that Inquisition. (See Mel Brooks "History of the World Part 1" for more on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5McSEU48Y8)

Obviously I had some learning to do. And what better way to learn than sight seeing!

We first met up with three friends from Pamplona in Madrid, Kaylee, Jackie, and Briehn. After dealing with some problems with our hotel situation, we set off to the Reina Sofia. Our guide book said that you enter the museum by high tech elevators. These elevators are apparently so high tech that they are near impossible to discover, and soon we decided to go eat dinner and abandon el museo.

After dinner and Emily's first flan experience (she didn't like it) we went searching for a tapas bar that Kaylee had found in her guide book. This once again proved too difficult for us, and while we did eventually find the bar, it was closed. So far, we were failing miserably.

The next day, however, treated us much better. The sun was out, and Emily and I couldn't help but frolic a bit after five dark rainy weeks in London. After a delicious breakfast of churros and freshly squeezed orange juice, we toured the Palacio Real, where I was excited to see a real Stradivarius violin, having read about them in a Boxcar Children Mystery. By the time we finished touring we were hungry again. We began walking to the Plaza Mayor, only to be sidetracked by the greatest word in the human language.


Yes. We were in Spain and practically got hit by cars racing across the street to a restaurant that was promising, "100% Comida Mexicana." London is a lot of things, but not a Mecca of Mexican food. Add in two Texans and a Californian and you have five hungry girls, two mango daiquiris, a margarita, a pinacolada, and enough nachos to feed a small country.

After gorging ourselves, we decided it was time to leave Mexico and head back to Spain.

Our next stop was by far my favorite place in Madrid, The Plaza Mayor. Originally the sight of the Spanish Inquisition, the plaza now hosts a plethora of cafe's, shops, and street performers galore, including a real life mariachi band. The pure energy buzzing around the square made it impossible not to feel happy.

The rest of the day consisted of a trip to the Plaza de Espana, which featured statues of Don Quixote, Sancho, and Cervantes, a trip to an Egyptian Temple, and of course, shopping. After our busy day, we were more than ready to take part in my favorito part of Spanish culture, the siesta.

Of course, we couldn't go to Madrid without experiencing the nightlife, so at midnight we headed to El Kapital, a seven story nightclub with a line stretched around the building. From the karaoke floor to the bar that had sofa beds (see Sex and the City Season 6 Part 1 Episode 7), I have never seen anything of its magnitude.

The next day, exhausted from our clubbing the night before, we headed out to see Spain's museums for two reasons: 1. They have extraordinary pieces of art, and 2. The rain in Spain decided to leave the plane for the day.

We visited both the Thyssen Bornemisza and The Prado, both of which featured exemplary collections including works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, and my fellow Kappa Delta, Georgia O'Keefe. In between our cultural experiences, I had my first tapa, which I enjoyed immensely. Our day concluded with a trip to the Real Madrid Stadium to soak up the pregame scene, and then back to the hotel to partake in a traditional Spanish meal: pizza. Guess my excitement for Italy next week had an effect on my food choices. Until then,

Hasta Luego!

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