Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spain (part 1)

Planes are uncomfortable. I'm 6'3". I'm not a small dude. Aisle seat or not, its still nearly impossible for me to sleep on a plane. So I just stayed up. Since we left Thursday afternoon and lost 7 hours in the flight, we arrived Friday morning in Madrid. Brittany slept around 5 hours and I slept none. But its hard to be in a bad mood when you just stepped off a plane into one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The rental car? A VW Polo (which I referred at as the "Pollo" all week). I didn't realize how fast I drove it all week since everything was in kph instead of mph. Turns out I was driving that tiny little car around 100 mph on most of the interstates. But I digress...

We spent our first two nights in Madrid at a hostel. I know what you're thinking: A hostel? We didn't share rooms. We did share a large common room and bathrooms, but we had private sleeping quarters. It was nice--(fairly) clean and in a great location. We went out the front door and down the block to the metro station and could get anywhere in the city in less than 15 minutes. We went to the Prado museum and it blew me away. There were paintings from Goya and Velazquez and El Greco and Raphael and Botticelli and Rembrandt and Carvaggio. There was so much to see it was overwhelming.

In Madrid we also visited the Royal Palace (el Palacio Real), the Retiro park (Parque del Buen Retiro), Plaza del Sol and Plaza Mayor. There was lots to do and lots to see. We talked... a lot. I had bought a pair of Chaco sandals before we left and wore them the entire time. They do what they promise. My feet stunk at the end of the day, but atleast my knees didn't hurt.

On Sunday we made the 6 hour drive to Barcelona. Brittany slept a lot. But the countryside was lovely and the drive was quite nice. We had rented an apartment for the 3 nights in Barcelona and that was a decision we did not regret. The place was amazing--extremely modern, chic and simple (it looked like it came right out of an Ikea catalog). The property manager was German and moved to Spain a while back so he spoke 7 languages and was really informative when it came to things to do.

Barcelona was my favorite city. It wasn't as huge and fast paced as Madrid (which reminded me of New York) but there seemed to be more to do. The Sagrada Familia was a few blocks from our apartment. We went to take some pictures and had dinner our first night there on a terrace right beside it. The Modernist architecture alone is worth a visit to Barcelona. It influenced so much--from hospitals to apartment buildings to churches to parks. In Barcelona we toured the Cathedral (amazingly huge), the Palace of Catalan Music, the Church of the Sagrada Familia, the Picasso museum, and Parc Guell. The Picasso museum was incredible in that none of his most famous works were on display there. It showed Picasso's works from pre-art school all the way up until his last pieces. There were charcoal and pencil sketches, early landscape paintings, Blue period, Rose period, pre-Cubist and Cubist paintings, copper plate etches, posters, magazine doodles, and pottery. It was really interesting to see the scope of his talent. The Parc Guell was designed by the same guy who designed the Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudi. There were mosaics and curvy lines everywhere. He built these two houses at the bottom of the park and inlaid them with colored mosaics and spires --they looked like life-sized gingerbread houses. The whole park was eye candy and was one of my favorite places.

More to come soon... (as soon as I quit being lazy and write it all up.)

PS-I'll add pics and such ASAP.