Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1:10 pm-Madrid time, in Lufthansa seat 19 F
Today we woke up at 7:30 AM, dressed, packed up our last few things, and then had our last meal in Spain. It’s so sad to be leaving!! After breakfast, we got our suitcases and chilled in the lobby to wait for the bus. During this time, the Art Boosters gave Luis our gift (a hat and a card). He really was a fantastic tour director. With him, I learned a lot about the stuff we visited as well as the modern workings of European politics and society. Plus, I didn’t get lost (except for yesterday).
We have about an hour long flight ahead of us, so I’ll use this time to catch up on yesterday’s events.
Our wake-up call was 7:45 AM and what a fantastic luxury it was! I really enjoyed rooming with just Kera. It is far easier to coexist with one of my best friends than with three other people. At 8:45 AM we had access to a wonderful breakfast buffet in our hotel. It’s quite funny to see the unusual things that European people traditionally eat for breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen bleu cheese at a hotel buffet! But then again, this hotel is VERY posh.
By 9:45 AM, we were on the bus with the local guide (a woman whose name I have forgotten). She showed us all the sights of the city and explained the significance of each. For example, the old main gate for the city of Madrid had five openings, each for a different purpose: The ones on the outer ends were for foot traffic, the ones just inside of those were for carriages, and the largest, central opening was for the King’s use only.
After our city bus tour the woman led us to the Royal Palace for a guided tour. Our whole group split into two groups. Art Boosters and the Ohio group formed one group leaving Spanish Club and the Georgia group as another.
The Royal Palace was magnificent. Our group went with a guide from the Royal Palace who was quite knowledgeable not only on the history of the Palace, but also the history of America and how it tied to Spanish history. Most of the 20 rooms we saw were done in the Rococo style which is a form of extreme Baroque decoration. It did not suit me at all, far too much gaudy design, but it was terribly diverting to look at and study! The most unique part of the palace décor was definitely the frescoes made of stucco on the ceiling. Now, I have seen frescoes before but these were very different: parts of the paintings hung off the walls to give the illusion of three dimensions! I think Mrs. Webb was as amused by them as I was.
After seeing all the stunning rooms of the Palace, we went outside and met up with Luis. He led us by foot back to the Plaza Del Sol (near our hotel which was, by the way, on Gran Villa: the Broadway of Madrid, all theatrical and posh). From the plaza, Bubba, Kera, Pelley, and I started walking towards the Museo Reina Sofia of Contemporary Arts. On the way we had lunch at the Museo Del Jamon (the museum of ham!!!) and I had some ternera, or veal. It almost surpassed the veal I had in Italy, it was that good. Yum.
We walked on and did some quick shopping, making it to the museum around 4:30 PM. We spent almost an hour and a half going through selected exhibits. The place was quite vast! There were a lot of Dali paintings that I found quite interesting. His works are so intricate and have so many fine nuances that I could have easily spent hours pouring over one painting. He used so many strange and often jarring pairings in his works that it just keeps the viewer attentive for longer trying to decipher his motive in the painting. It was a great thing that I got to see all these paintings.
After Reina Sofia, the four of us walked back to Plaza Del Sol. Bubba wanted a copy of Don Quixote in its original Spanish and the rest of us wanted an escape from the smothering heat. We headed to the book department of Corte Ingles (a HUGE department store) and achieved both things.
Then we got some sorbet.
It was then 7:10-ish so we went to the meeting place to rejoin our group. At 7:15 PM we walked to dinner. We ate at a place very similar to the Museo Del Jamon, the dinner place was a jamoneria, too. I was still full from my fantastic lunch, so I did not eat much.
After dinner and saying goodbye to the Georgia group (who were going to leave at 4:30 AM) Mrs. Webb, Carrie, Alicia, Phano, Bubba, Pelley, Kera, Jessica, and I shopped our way back to the Hotel. Oce back, Krea and I sorted and packed all our girfts for people. I didn’t get very far before I just wanted to throw everything into random bags and call it a night….which eventually I did. We were both asleep around midnight, despite the stifling heat of our room.
I cannot believe we are going home. This trip feels lime it hasn’t started yet! I am kind of glad to be going, though…it’s a mixed feeling. I miss Daddy and Tara A LOT but then again, I want to stay and see more of Spain. It’s a bitter sweet moment.
I’ll have to write more later on the long flight.

6:18 PM Halifax time- Seat 33 F Lufthansa
So, on the flight in to Europe I was mentioning the fact that I wanted to know some of the passengers’ stories because when I travel, I am immensely concerned with what everybody else is doing. So far, I know two people’s stories:
One is the story of Emily, the girl sitting next to Bethany (and two seats away from me). She goes the U of I Champaign-Urbana and was just in Madrid for a month doing foreign term. She and some other students stayed longer and toured other parts of Europe as well. She has been away from home for six weeks. She lives near Chicago and when she gets home, she and her mother are going to order pizza and watch “He’s Just Not That in to You.” She’s excited about going home.
The other Story I know is of the man from Albany, New York. He has been on at least eight flights on his trip to far, and some of them have been to places he cannot pronounce the names of. He has been in Italy for eight days on this trip and has also been to Spain. He asked if I could speak Italian or Spanish. I was proud to be able to hold a conversation with him about traveling. It’s a good feeling to have people, especially adults, be surprised about how much traveling I have done at such a young age. It makes you look wiser, in their eyes, if you can successfully explain the importance of travel and how much of a joy it is to you. It’s a really amazing feeling to be able to look at people and say, “Oh I was there.” It changes your perspective on so many things.
We have about three hours until we get to Chicago and I really don’t want to fall asleep and screw up my sleeping patterns any more than I already have. It stinks re-adjusting to time zones and such. It’s quite a process, coming home should be better because at least I can sleep.
Okay, there probably won’t be much to update until I land so I’m thinking this is the end of my travel journal for this trip. I’m so glad to have gone and seen all these amazing sights. I cannot wait to go back to Spain and show someone else the glory and beauty of that country. France…eh, maybe I’ll return the Carcassonne someday. Paris, not so much.
I can’t believe it’s over.

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