Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Prado, the Plazas, and some Pulpo

What a whirlwind tour. I am currently sitting in my Paris apartment relaxing and reflecting on the past couple days and looking ahead to the days to come. I'll get to Paris later, Madrid first.

Let me also say that I am unable to post pictures on the blog with my iPad, but I'll see if I can make it happen in the next few days.

I got on the first plane on Wednesday afternoon, and I can honestly say that I barely stopped until this moment. I don't even know where to begin because it was such a rush of events and people. What I will say though is that I met such great people. While I had a hard time remembering anyone's name, they were some of the nicest, most fun people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. It was only four days, but we bonded ;)

Back to the beginning, the travel part of the trip went very smoothly including customs. I then met up with some EF people (the company that I am working with for the Peruvian Adventure) and some other teachers like myself. We got all checked in, I met my roommate for the trip, Jenna, and I was in search of a cafe con leche to fight the impending jet lag. While most went to the Starbucks on the corner, I found a Spanish only cafe with a metal counter and small wooden tables. It was exactly what I was looking for. I sat for a while soaking in the moment and reading a few paragraphs of my book.

That moment of quiet relaxation didn't last long though because I had to meet up with the group and start the events of the day. No time for rest. The first order of the day was a lesson on the Madrid metro and some free time for lunch. My new friend Angela and I walked a bit and stumbled on an outdoor cafe and the group leaders. This was excellent because they were ordering tapas, so we jumped right in. Pulpo (octopus), patatas bravas, Spanish empanadas, and much more made up our lunch. There were many risk takers at the table trying all sorts of new food. It was an IB moment!

The walking tour continued and we all continued to get to know each other and learn a bit of history in the process. We walked all over the city to the Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol with all of the crazy characters and street performers. We walked up and down tiny alley ways and busy main roads. What I neglected to mention earlier was that there was a huge strike going on. Businesses were closed, the airport was empty except for a skeleton crew. Shops were closed and hundreds of people were walking the streets with signs and chanting. I'm not exactly sure of the details of the whole thing but it mainly had to do with service workers. From what Carmen, out tour director said, sometimes they could get out of hand, so we avoided it as much as we could.

Our next stop was the Prado museum home of epic works of art by famous Spanish painters. It just wasn't the same without Kate as my tour guide for that one. Angela wasn't so into it either, so we went outside to see how the strike was developing. The strikers were supposed to meet in the Plaza del Sol at 6 pm, and it was just about that time, so the streets were filling up. After everyone got their fill of art, the walking tour continued. It felt like hours went by before we got to the restaurant for dinner. By this point we were all getting very tired, but we powered through a dinner of some amazing asparagus with bacon, fish, and ice cream for dessert. Then there was more walking back to the hotel where I crashed (it was not a good sleep though). No time for blogging, no time for jet lag.