Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Semana Santa, Madrid, Barcelona Beach Weekend

Me in the entrance to the summer Palace

Easter Procession in Segovia in front of the Catedral

When Chloe and I were boating, not exactly my strongest talent!

Ramon, Pilar and me in Toledo!

Sabina, Pilar and me at the Palacio Real in Madrid

I had been anxiously awaiting Semana Santa; almost to the point I was simply writing down the days on all my school papers till my family and I were leaving to Madrid! I haven't had the luck this year, or opportunity let's say to travel. My family is rather stable here in Tarrega and with my strict school boundaries I've settled for all the weekends to Barcelona and the surrounding areas, so I was filled with excitment to leave Catalunya and see a little bit of the country! One of the biggest reasons I choose Spain for my year abroad was for it's diversity; through the land, people, languages...and most importantly for the rich Spanish history. We left for our journey Saturday morning after a full house cleaning. We were participating in a home swap with a lovely couple and their two children who lived in Alcorcon, which is a suburb directly outside of Madrid's center. With a fully charged ipod, novel 'Still Life with Woodpecker' in my lap and a sufficient sweatshirt immitating a pillow I was set for the drive ahead. My parents and sister had complained terribly so I had come prepared! Turned out I couldn't keep my eyes off the windows as the drastic change in landscape kept my eyes glued to the constant changing environment. It was incredibly how fast the lush farmland of Catalunya changed as we drove only an hour west into Aragon, which was the driest desert land resembling the lonely, dust roads of south west. In total the drive was only about 6 hours with a stop for lunch, pretty amateur for an Alaskan girl that drives that same amount to go shopping every month if not more! It passed by quickly and soon enough I could see suburbs, apartment buildings and public transport trams leading into the capitol. Our apartment was in all honesty the ugliest building I could have possibly ever seen! However when we reached the 10th floor and penthouse we were all very surprised! They had redone the interior and kitchen. It was spacious, worldly and comfortable which are the main qualities leading to a great stay! The whole week was everything I had hoped and so much more. We explored at the seasonal Spanish Palaces which was completely intriguing. I have always loved world history, but especially Europeon Renaissance. Everything from the ancient tapestries, and rugs, to Baroque styled desks and chinese porcelain rooms! Dripping with elegance and pure decadence I had a fabulous time exploring not only the palace building and grounds, but the little towns surrounding. My favorite was possibly the summer palace close to Segovia, it had a fairytale-like presence between the pastel colors, gorgeous grounds and shrubbery to the grand moldings inside and out. Everything was completely different from life here in Catalunya. The city of Madrid was on a different scale then Barcelona. You have the more art nouveau centered, free spirit, beach city compared to the historical, hipster, grand capital of Madrid. I loved spending a full afternoon wandering through the endless hallways of the Prado museum falling in love with every piece of Velazquez art. Goodness I love simply how when you enter an art musuem you enter into a different world. You're transported through time and I find my focus souly on the art! I had a lovely visit! We went to some amazing monuments in the city, and I met up with some othe AFSer's who lived nearby! Went boating in a little lake with my dear Chloe and ate a nice light dinner with Mariah in Plaza Mayor under the beautiful stars. The days were about full to the maximum and although the whole 'relaxation' part of my vacation may have been lacking I had a phenominal time. It openend my eyes to the amazing range and variety this country holds! It made me wonder if only I could make it even 6 hours further south and hit Sevilla I would really see the diversity! We arrived back home just in time for 3 days of school, which was a nice transition. It would have been very difficult to go right into a monday! We had both monday and tuesday off for 'La Mona' which is actually the name of the typical easter cake here in Spain, but also the holiday itself which revolves around good company of friends or family, roasted meat over a fire pit and the recognition of spring! Although I was exhausted from my week in Madrid I went to a small town outside of Tarrega, Anglesola with my friends to celebrate in some open field. I had no idea what to expect, because no one had explained anything to me! I arrived home, slept and in the morning caught the train to meet everyone. The hot spanish sun was out and it was great to spend some time with my friends after a long week away! Basically it was set up on a small farm plot. There was a large fire pit with a grill, a long picnic table and a friend is a dj, so he had a total set up blaring the good ol' spanish rap. I just had to sit back and soak it up; danced some, played a little soccer, ate some amazing food, laughed and drank some homemade sangria. It was an incredible day, and when I looked in my mirror at home again I was highly sunburnt! The bright red resignating brightly from my shoulders and collarbone! School went by rather fast, just three days and then the following week I knew would be free, as my class would be going to London for 5 days. Last minute I decided to go to Barcelona saturday. Such a great choice that I'm glad I decided on. Now that I'm nearing on my last 2 months it's important to me to seize the moment, enjoy all that I can and have no regrets! That choice was doing exactly that! I had a fabulous time with my friends going to watch the FC Barcelona vs. Madrid futbol match, celebrating in Plaza Catalunya after and then lazing at the beach on Sunday. It was astounding how many people per meter were at the beach on Sunday! The temperature was reaching 25, nearly Kayla's melting point! Just trying to ease into the heat day by day, because I know soon enough the low will be aroun 3o! This week is rather low key we'll see where the Catalunya winds take me! So much love.