Category Archives: Travel

Second weekend in Madrid

Last night we got home from our second (and last) weekend in Madrid. I really love the city. We stayed in a really nice hotel that had air conditioning and no cockroaches, so that was a major step up. We went on walking tours to see the new, modern Madrid, as opposed to the old palaces and churches of historical Madrid. Unfortunately, ‘new’ also means ‘ugly,’ so the pictures aren’t inherently aesthetically pleasing.

Also saw a jazz/flamenco concert. Now, normally I like jazz a lot, but it’s a different animal in Spain than it is in the US. It makes sense, because America is the homeland of jazz, and Chicago in particular, so what impressed everyone else didn’t impress me at all. The dancing was good, at least.

Also ate a TON of steak over the weekend. It was wonderful.

That’s about it — swamped in work this week because it’s our last week of class. Adios!

Photos of modern Madrid

Madrid

Well, last night I got back from a long weekend in Madrid, and I had a TON of fun. We took a five hour fast train from Barcelona to the center of the country, and the landscape was really interesting — I had no idea the interior of Spain was so desert-y. The ride over was pretty painless; I read The Devil Wears Prada from cover to cover and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Before long, we were in the Atocha train station, and we took the metro to the hotel. We stayed in the heart of Madrid, by the Prado Museum and many important and large plazas. The first night was pretty quiet because we were all pretty tired from the trip over.

The following day we took a long and intense walking tour of Madrid’s older sector, visiting the Palacio Royal and the Plaza Mayor before heading over to the Prado museum to look at art and the botanical gardens. Long day, but then I ate a steak, so I was pretty happy about that.

The following day we went to the more modern parts of Barcelona, and looked at Antonio Palacios’s Palacio de Communicaciones, which was a pretty impressive building. We also saw several other modern buildings on the way, many of which were highly decorated like the Metropolis building. For lunch, we ate at the Botin Restaurant, the oldest standing restaurant in the world. It was all really good food (no seafood for me, finally) and a good time.

Our last day, a few students and the professor headed over to the Rastro, a huge flea market in a poorer part of Madrid. Some people were selling such crap I couldn’t believe anyone would buy it — used makeup compacts, things like that. But there were a few good finds too; I just didn’t have the patience to look through things. It was all really interesting and a very different experience than what I’ve had previously!

After the Rastro, we returned to the hotel, had some food, and headed back to Barcelona. After a few train breakdowns, we made it back to Barcelona in time to watch the end of the World Cup final. All in all, an amazing weekend, and I can’t wait to go back in two weeks!

Photo albums:
Madrid (day one)

Madrid (day two)

Some examples…

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Girona and Montjuic

Long week! Too busy to write it all down until now.

On Friday we took a day trip to Girona, Spain, a city north of Barcelona, to see the historical buildings and such. It was gorgeous and historic — my kind of trip.

First we went to a church, Sant Feliu (I think in English it’d be Felix). One of the interesting things about the saint is that he was supposed to have protected the city through a plague of flies, so the city mascot of sorts is now a fly. You can buy shirts and jewelry and things like that with flies on it. Kind of cool, but a weird mascot.

Then we went to the “Banys Arabs,” or the Arab Baths. The building was built in 1194, and it was modelled off the Muslim baths which were sort of hip at the time. In 1283 the building was damaged from a siege, so it was repaired a year later. It was closed in the 15th century and then privatized later on, until the government reopened it in the 1920s. It included five rooms (a dressing room, a cold water room, a warm water room, a hot room, and the oven/boiler).

Then we stopped by an old monastery on our way to the big cathedral. We couldn’t take pictures, but it was huge — and, more impressively, it’s the only medieval cathedral that still stands that had such a big chapel but without columns going down the middle to support the roof. Instead, the walls were made very well as to provide enough force to push the stones together. The garden in the cathedral complex is really pretty, and because a lot of people couldn’t read back then, they made columns with Bible stories on them.

Then we got lunch, which isn’t exciting enough to retell.

After lunch, we climbed a bunch of stairs to get on top of the fortification walls and towers that overlooked the city. The view was really something — except you could tell it was pretty smoggy. Lots of mountains and trees.

Then it was off to the Jewish part of the city, which was sort of unimpressive because it had all been destroyed. By that time, too, I was so tired that I couldn’t really pay attention to our tour guide, who was speaking in Spanish the whole time.

And today we went to Montjuic. We saw the old castle from the 1700s, the Olympic stadium and parks, and the old buildings from the 1929 Exhibitions. It was hot and much of the day was outside, so I’m pretty tired now. More pictures and stories to come, though!

Full photo albums here:

Girona (pt 1)

Girona (pt 2)

Montjuic

Click below for samples:

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In the airport

Hi folks. I’m in the airport right now — I had hoped there would be room on an earlier flight to Philadelphia but there wasn’t, so I’m here for another few hours before my flight takes off (connecting in Philly to Barcelona). They have free internet on the desktop computers in the Admiral’s Club (which isn’t so free) so I’m taking advantage. The bad weather seems to have passed over Philadelphia so I should be fine to make my flight to Spain. Unless a coffee machine breaks, or something. In any case, I am sure it will work out and I’ll make it there when I need to.

I don’t have much to report — I have plenty of room in my luggage to bring back things purchased in Spain, so let me know if you want anything in particular (but no booze). Like I’ve said, I’ll be available by email quite frequently, and if you’d like to actually speak to me, call me on Skype or Google Talk (user names are carrie.andersen and ceanders08, respectively). Keep in mind the time zone difference; I don’t want any 3am phone calls.

Think that’s all for now — I’ll post again soon!

Carrie