Thursday, September 11, 2008
Many the Hail?
The day before yesterday we had rain off and on during the afternoon. Then, at one in the morning we had hail. That's Ana, my house mom, holding a piece that she saved in the freezer. Freak storms aside, it's still hot and un-airconditioned here, only now it's uncomfortably humid as well.
This is the view out of my window looking to the left, towards Puerta del Sol, and this is looking to the right, towards the Opera House. Puerta del Sol is the center of Madrid containing city hall, "Kilometer Zero" (the marker from which all distances in Spain are measured), a statue of King Charles III, and a bear and a tree (which is the city's symbol).
In front of the Opera House is Plaza Oriente. King Philip IV is in the center of the square. The gardens around it have statues of other (dead) kings. The first night I was here we went down to the square for a free performance of songs from "Beauty and the Beast". We were in the back of the crowd, so we could hear, but not see. Instead we had a better view of the back of the square, which is defined by the back of the Royal Palace.
My room mates and I took the tour on Saturday, but photographs are only allowed on the outside. Inside, there is a over the top baroque/rococo interior. It's all carefully designed to show off the wealth of the inhabitants, but mostly it's just gaudy. On the far side of the palace is the Cathedral. It's new construction, only finished within the last century. The exterior is neo-classical, to match the palace, but he interior is neo-Gothic. At least, that's what I've been told. I haven't actually been able to get inside it yet as every time I've tried it has been closed for no apparent reason. We also took a short walk through the palace gardens, and they got some nice photos of the palace lawns and a peacock. I got nothing, because it was at that point that my camera batteries decided to die on me.
On Sunday we took a longer trip to Plaza Mayor* which has been the home to many things in Madrid's history: a market, bull fighting, carnivals, futbol fans, tourists, and the Inquisition. Now it houses a coin and stamp market on the weekends. Just down the street from Mayor is the beginning of el Rastro - Europe's largest flea market, held every Sunday. I brought my camera, but left if in my purse, because the market was just to crowded to justify the risk of taking it out.
Sunday afternoon, I split off from the group to go to the Museo del Prado, the largest and most important of Madrid's art museums. They don't allow photography inside either, but here's a statue of hometown favorite Goya from the park outside. I just made a quick tour. I need to go back sometime when my feet aren't hurting to enjoy it some.
Tuesday was a state holiday, so we had a day off from classes. Emma and Renee went to Toledo, Megan and I stayed home and did a whole lot of nothing. Also it rained and there was a hail storm during the night, see above.
Classes continue a pace. Spanish continues to go well, although two days in a row now I have been told that I'm pronouncing things like an Italian. Linguistics is coming along nicely as well, although there is a lot of homework. The professor has a contract to write a textbook on the subject, so we are the guinea pigs for her draft of the book, meaning that we have to do all of the little exercises that might otherwise be skipped.
This early in the semester, working in the writing lab means sitting quietly in the corner under the stairs and knitting.
In addition to going to Berlin for the GRE in November, I'm also going to go to Rome for a weekend in October. I may try to go to London this semester as well, but that all depends on how cheap of a flight I can find.
P.S. click the link in the side bar to brows a few more of my
*5 minutes walking, if you walk slowly and stop frequently.