Published: March 21st 2012March 21st 2012
our hotel room
casual priceless art in the room. you knowww.
I was invited to meet a close family friend in Madrid this past weekend, and without thinking twice, took advantage of the opportunity. Mary Fran was in Spain for a week before volunteering as an “Anglo” in an intensive program where Spaniards come to converse with native English speakers to become more fluent in English. She explained that the Spaniards were businessmen or doctors who wanted a closer relationship with their English speaking clients so they took time off their high paying jobs to attend this program. She told me no Spanish was allowed!
I’ve never traveled alone in Europe before, so I printed out tons of maps and wrote down phone numbers of everything. I was prepared. I took at 9am bus on Friday March 16 to Rome, and then flew to Madrid. When I got off the plane, luckily there was a Metro station right in the terminal! And by “right in,” I mean I probably walked 5 miles through the airport to get there. But still. I hopped on, switched twice, and got off at Seville. The Metro was spotless and very easy to navigate. I was impressed!
After getting off I asked about 4 people
for directions. They were probably all correct, but I had no idea what they were saying so I called the hotel to ask. Basically I just had to walk the opposite way I was going and I was set. Success!
Mary Fran booked us a room in the beautiful 5 star Hotel Urban that was basically a hotel, museum, restaurant, bar and night club all in one, it seemed. Our room was huge and we were welcomed with strawberries and a note telling us to enjoy our stay. I got there around 6pm-ish, maybe earlier, so we chatted for a bit, got a drink at the bar downstairs, then headed to dinner.
La Capilla De La Bolsa was like nothing I have ever seen before. It was huge, with mirrors, mosaic tile pictures on the wall, a live piano player, and a delicious looking menu. Waiters brought us cosmopolitans, water and white wine. Our glasses were never empty! We had salads, paella that was prepared in front of our table, bread, and I had a main course of lobster lasagna. Definitely something I would never be able to experience if I was just going to Madrid with friends.
We walked around to digest that huge meal and ended up in a bar to watch a tennis game. We didn’t get home until after 3am!
Mary Fran had the next day all planned out for us. After a giant breakfast (scrambled eggs and bacon!) we were on our way out at 10am. She hired a guide to take us through the Museo Nacional Del Prado- or the Prado Museum. Our guide, Ester, explained almost every work of art to us. The artist Velazquez, who I have never heard of before, seemed like the main attraction. After that, we took a break from museums and got a cab to the Royal Palace and toured the inside! That was my favorite part of the day. I wish pictures were allowed in there, because it’s impossible to explain in words. Every room was a different, vibrant color, and some walls had porcelain figures or silk wallpaper on them. It was beautiful. We said a gracious good bye to Ester, grabbed a quick, but good, lunch in the café above the gift shop and headed back to the Prado, this time to walk through the Hermitage.
The Hermitage is on a
year “loan” from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. It has “ancient gold objects deriving from the archaeological excavations …in Russia,” more paintings and Fabergé items(according to the booklet/map). Here I also saw original paintings by Monet, Picasso and Rembrant! I felt so artsy.
At this point, we were pretty worn out. Running on little sleep and walking around all day was catching up to us. The next choice was to go back to the hotel for a nap, or go out for tapas! We chose tapas, just so I could have the full Spain experience. Basically for this daily Spanish activity, you go to a tapas bar, pick things that are on the counters that you want to eat, and you enjoy them with a wine or beer. There are a lot of fish items to choose from, or lots of different toppings on slices of thick bread. This snack was great. Why don’t we tapa in the US??
We headed back to the hotel and I got to lounge on our couch and watch TV (in English, yayy!) while Mary Fran went out to look at movie times at the cinema a few blocks
over. We freshened up when she got back and went to the movie theatre where I bought us a huge container of popcorn. I have seriously been deprived of that here. We saw “My Week with Marilyn” which was really good and in English, too. After that we strolled around and headed to an outdoor café we saw the night before. It had sort of a log cabin theme, with outdoor heaters and fluffy coverings on the chairs. We had a drink and some snacks then went back to the hotel for our dinner reservation at 10:30, which was early. Yes, in Spain they eat even later than in Italy.
We had a great dinner and celebrated by using our tickets for 2 glasses of free champagne. We ate everything then immediately passed out. The next morning, after another really great breakfast, it was time for me to go. My flight was at 12:10 so we said our goodbyes and Mary Fran put me in a cab to the airport. As if my weekend wasn’t luxurious enough, I found myself sitting in 1st
class on the way back to Rome. I don’t know how I pulled that one off,
but I definitely must have picked that option by accident while booking my ticket. It was worth it though, believe me Mom and Dad!
Last night Carrie made us dinner with the help of a friend and it came out great! With the end of classes approaching, my work load isn’t even funny. I have too many papers and projects to name. But this weekend I’m going to Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum with my Roman Civilization class so I’m pretty excited for that. Ciao for now.
There are more photos below