Madre Mia! Where on earth have I been?

2009/11/16 § Leave a comment

That is a most excellent question.  Considering that the last post I put up said I’d talk about El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos, I better have a dang good explanation for not posting, right?  ‘Cause I know y’all are just dying from lack of Allie-bloggishness.  Ha.  In the last few weeks I have been to some parks, done an Improve Everywhere event, celebrated Halloween, been sick, gone to Valencia, and knit up a storm.  I’m now realizing, as I’m really truly settling into life here in Madrid, that I only have five weeks left before I’m back in Escondido!  I’m still not sure how I feel about this.  I love living in the city (Becca already knows, so no snide comments, thank you very much), and as much as I love my little Honda, I’m not sure I want to give up the metro for the dubious pleasure of paying for gas every week.

In my last post, I promised a bit on El Escorial, so here’s my excursion that day in a paragraph:

A very nice Saturday to go out, El Escorial is only about a half hour away from Madrid.  It’s a monastery-palace-library-church-basilica-school-government seat-burial place of at least 15 reigning kings and queens of Spain and their significant others-burial place of many many many royal family members.  It’s gorgeous in a very understated way, and the surrounding countryside is magnificent.  I’ve got pictures up on Facebook (have for a few weeks) but there aren’t really pictures of the inside since we’re not allowed to take pictures inside.  I’d highly recommend looking it up though!  Marisa, one of the art profesoras, came with us on this trip.  We were just one group, since going to a monastery I guess wasn’t as popular as going to Toledo.  We spent the morning at El Escorial (it’s very very large) and then had about an hour and a half to wander around the little town right there, eating lunch and chocolate hunting, until we realized that the famed chocolate was actually in the monastery, which we had already left.  Oh well.  We found a tasty pasteleria, so that made up for it.  The second part of our day was the Valle de los Caidos, or Valley of the Fallen.  It’s situated about 10 or 15 minutes away from El Escorial, and was built by Franco during the 1950s, intended to be a memorial to those fallen for the Nationalist side (Franco’s side) but no one’s really sure who’s buried there, since Republican political prisioners were used to build it, and its more than likely that those who died there were buried there as well.  What it is, is a giant church.  At the top of the valley is a huge carved cross- according to Wikipedia, its the world’s tallest memorial cross. Under it, in the mountain, is the basilica of the church, which would be the largest (also referencing wiki here) were it not that they chose to leave an entrance part unconsecrated so it wouldn’t compete with the Vatican.  Inside it’s very dark, and very creepy.  It’s all carved out of stone, with giant avenging looking angels.  There are technically only named graves inside- Franco’s and that of his right hand man.  There are always fresh flowers on Franco’s grave, and there’s a monastery on the other side of the mountain with priests that constantly say Mass for the souls of the dead.  This is an active church, so there are Masses every day, and however many times on Sunday.  The statues in there are exquiste, and terrifying.  If you can’t tell, it wasn’t my favorite part of the day.

The following week (last week of November) I spent shopping (BOOTS!) with friends, studying for midterms, and going hunting for Halloween costumes, food, and candy.  We had our own little Halloween fiesta at Casey’s apartment- Alyssa and I made hot apple cider (mmm), I had gone on an adventure to find a store called “Taste of America “(my host mom told me about it after she saw an ad for it in a magazine with Halloween pumpkins) and lo and behold, I found Reese’s and Hershey’s.  What more did we need on Halloween?  Casey had snack food for us, I brought something to give the cider a little kick, and we had ourselves a Halloween celebration.  Casey, Melissa, Selin, and I got ourselves dressed up and went out for the night to go dancing!  I spent the next day pretending to be awake, and slept hard that night. 

On Wednesday we had a field trip to the Museo Reina Sofia, a modern art museum.  It was incredible. Guernica by Picasso is there in all it’s horrible glory, as are many Dali’s and other amazing artists.  It was also Selin’s 21st birthday that day, so we went out to celebrate!  (Don’t worry, early night- we had a test the next day).  Thursday was school as usual, then I spent the afternoon and night getting ready for Valencia for the weekend!  Next post, I promise.  A whole weekend in Valencia deserves it’s own post. 🙂

Hasta luego, un beso-

Allie

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