Saturday started nice and early as we met up for our weekend trip to El Escorial, a monastary and El Castillo De Manzanares El Real, a castle. Yep, I was pretty stoked. The forecast called for rain, but it stayed nice and sunny throughout our first trip. It's been such crappy weather here for the last week or so, and it isn't supposed to get any better this week :/ great. I definitely under packed in the winter clothes department.
El Escorial was really cool, old, and I wish I could remember more about it, but I couldn't understand a thing coming out of the tour guide's mouth, so you'll have to just go there yourself. It's a monastary, royal palace, cathedral, crypt, library, yeah the list goes on and on. At one point in our tour we went down a set of stairs, and the next thing I knew I was basically surrounded by lots and lots of dead Spanish royalty in a FREEZING marble room underground. It was a little creepy, but a lot of cool. When the tour was over I was a bit stealthy and snapped a couple pics of my favorite room, and then we saw some of the beautiful gardens/scenery outside. Those monks knew how to garden!
After El Escorial we were supposed to go to El Valle De Los Caídos, The Valley of the Fallen, which is the home of the largest cross in the world, plus the tomb of Fransisco Franco, but we couldn't because they government has closed it for an interminable time period. This monument was built by Franco during the La Guerra Civil in the mid 1900s, and is a pretty big deal, but since the current government doesn't agree with the Francoists and fascism, it's been closed. I did, however get a pic from the bus.
Our last stop for the day was El Castillo De Manzanares El Real, a castle near Madrid. It was built in the 15th century, and has been reconstructed since. Our "tour" was not by a guide, but by a theatrical performing group, masquerading as royal husband and wife as they showed us around the castle. It was so cheesy but the inside was SO COOL! The best part were the tapestries. They covered entire walls, and had such color and intricate details! However, again, no pics.... guess 15th century tapestries are sensitive to light, or something. :)
After our tour, we took a look outside the castle, went in the turrets, and I was pretty impressed. Except there was no draw bridge. That was a major let down. By this point it had started raining and being really windy, so it was nice to get back on the bus, take a little break, and go back home to Alcalá.
However, that break didn't last long. When we got back home, Fransisco and Pilar's son +wife and daughter were there visiting. Wow that kid had a lot of energy. She was the craziest 7 year old I'd ever seen, but called down a bit as we played tres en raya (tic tac toe) ate churros con chocolate, and spoke English, because her parents wanter her to practice what she'd learned in her biligual school with us. It was hilarious, to say the least.
Saturday night was party time. Roberto's novia, Belén, was having her birthday party, and that's right, I got the invite. Oh how hilarious that Spanish party was. First off, it didn't start until about 11:30 at night. These Spaniards are night owls! Right when we got there I was offered cigarettes, (no fumo, was my response) the cerveza and Sangría ran like... water, and as they got tipsier and tipsier they got louder and louder. I loved it. Me and Natalie tried our best to make out conversations and answer questions as our questioners blew smoke out of the corners of their mouths, ate far too many nachos, and basically consumed this whole flowerpot full of oreo "biscuits" and nata ice cream. Around 1:30 Roberto said he'd take us home, but the party was definitely not over, and I have a feeling we missed out on much more festivities.
Sunday came early. We missed the bus again, so it was another walk to church day. However, at least this time I didn't come clad with my tourist map in hand. Church was good, and it passed really fast, probably because I was trying to translate the whole time. When it was over we missed the bus AGAIN, so it was another walking trip. Have I ever said I suck at public transportation?
When we got home, it was almost time for lunch. Yes, it was yet another day of scary eats, so I made sure to eat lots of trail mix (yet another food I brought from home, haha) beforehand so I wouldn't be lying when I told Pilar (finally figured out her name!!) I was full at the end of our meal of Paella. Oh Paella. This dish has a couple main components: clam things, shrimp, other weird fish, and rice. I was able to eat the rice and the veggies inside alright, but I spent a lot of the time playing, "hide the scary things in your napkin while no one is looking". It was successful.
After eating, it was siesta time, (best part of the day) and then we went back to church for a fireside. Oh, and on our way to church after sitting at the bus stop for 10 minutes, I finally had some guy come up and tell me the bus didn't even stop there on Sunday. Yeah. I'm learning. On the way back we completely missed our stop amid all our talking, so we had to stay on that crazy bus for about 45 minutes until our stop came around again. One day I WILL figure out this bus system.
Well, now it is Monday, and I am just sitting here in the kitchen, waiting for my laundry to be done. Again, I am trying to be stealthy here and get it done before Pilar gets home. She offered to do it for me, but I don't exactly feel comfortable with her hanging my underwear all over her outdoor clothes line. Am I crazy? No. Anyways, right now the alien washing machine sounds like it's about to take off, and I'm not sure if I should be worried or not. Meh maybe I shouldn't have turned the knob to "intensa".
Have a great day, and I will think of you as I am at the Reina Sofia critiquing those "pornographic Picasso paintings" as my professor calls them. Haha love from Madrid.