Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Temple of Debod

So today after class I went to the Temple of Debod, which is a 2,200 year old Egyptian temple currently located in a park here in Madrid. What is Egyptian construction doing in the middle of Spain, you might ask. Wikipedia has an answer that is not awful. Long story short, Spain helped Egypt move a bunch of stuff when the Aswan Dam was built, and Egypt gave Spain a temple that wasn't particularly important as a thank you gift.

I went there today because the site is small enough that I could get to it and see the whole thing between the time my classes ended (5:15) and the time it gets shut for the night (8:00). The Temple was actually quite small, I thought. All the doorways where very narrow and on the second floor my head was barely clear of the rafters. The stairs were tight enough that they had to put guards at both ends to direct traffic up and down. There was not room for two people to pass each other on those stairs, even if they were really good friends.

On the other hand, from the outside it looks pretty cool. It's in a park on a hill, so there are nice views of the city to be had from it, especially around sunset, when the locals come out to enjoy it. Everything is pretty well explained, if you can read Spanish. The English versions were less helpful. The also had a pretty nifty system of lights projected inside, which highlighted the architecture, and explained what it was. I dumped a bunch of photos into the bucket, and I think this is once case where the pictures definitely do a better job of explaining what I'm on about than I can do on my own.

Most importantly, at least to the view of this poor student, entry to the temple is free. I took the metro to get there, because I was coming straight from class and had a backpack full of books. Someone with a more touristy agenda could walk from Puerto del Sol or the Palace, or take the metro if they were feeling lazy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Arrival in Madrid

Getting set up in Madrid was easy. Getting here was a long and boring process.

For starters, I didn't get a lot of sleep on Saturday night, because I was dithering about getting everything packed, and I was excited about leaving the USA again. Then, I got up early to go to church with my parents one last time. We went to St. Nick's because it's on the way to the airport and the service time was confinent. Aside from my allergies deciding to act up during the lessions, it worked out rather well.

The frist leg of the flight was from Dallas to Tornoto. My Air Canada flight turned out to actually be on Air Canada Jazz, which is their puddle hopper/low fares service. In other words, instead of the big plane that I've come to expect on international flights, it was a little commuter plane. On the other hand, the flight was nowhere near full, so I had an entire exit row to myself. Aside from food being considered a frill, and thus not included, it was a pretty nice flight.

Then came a six and a half hour layover in Toronto. That may be the most soulless airport I've ever been in. If it weren't for the occasional advertisement for their free wi-fi service there would have been no way to tell it was in Toronto. If it weren't for the Tim Horton's and all the left-over merchendice from the Olympics in the duty-free shop, you would never know it was in Canada. The free wi-fi, by the way, was free, but it was also so unberably slow as to be practically useless. I was unable to check my email successfully, much less skype into my D&D game back in Texas, like I'd planned on. On the other hand, I used the time to write a 3 page paper for my class on Emily Dickenson, so it wasn't a total waste of time.

The flight from Toronto to Madrid, despite having a Lufthansa flight number, was served by Air Canada, with a Canadian crew, in a 767 with a giant Maple Leaf on the side. The entire thing was tri-lingual English/French/Spanish, which gets old real fast if you are at all proficient with all three languages and you just want to know what your options are for in-flight movies. I was seated in the very last row of the sterrage section, next to the window, which meant every time I wanted to go tot he bathroom, I had to climb over the sleeping Spanish lady next to me. That happened a lot, becuase I have never been able to sleep sitting up, and I was guzzeling water in a more or less successful attempt to stave off dehydration.

Getting setttled in Madrid has been painless. My Spanish is adiquite for getting a taxi, checking into a hotel, and buying a cell phone. I've finished the paperwork necissary to get a permanant resident card (now I have to wait for an apointment, which will basicly be whenever they feel like it). This will be my second day of classes, and also the day I turn in my second paper. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a real estate agent to see an appartment, and hopefully, sign a lease.

Hasta luego.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Live!

I have arrived in Madrid, and will be giving the MA thing another go. The blog shall be back for the ride, since I now have something interesting to write about. I'll write more later. Right now I'm very, very tiered because I still havn't mastered the art of sleeping on airplanes.