Sunday, June 15, 2008
Hey there everyone. Well yesterday we went to Toledo, which is famous for their blades, gold, and marzipan. It is better known to me as the city of ridiculously perpetual hills. Seriously, I think this place is built on a steep, upward hill in both directions. But in the end, it was worth it - it was really pretty and a great change of pace to be in a smaller, quieter town for a the day.
We left our place Saturday morning at 10am to head to the train station, and were pleasantly surprised to find it was only a 30 minute ride as opposed to the tear-inducing 9 hour ride to Barcelona. The view when you get into Barcelona is pretty sweet - the main part of the old city is about a 20 minute walk (uphill), but from the bottom, it looks like a huge fortress city w/ the huge stone walls. Pretty soon after we started heading for the city, I realized my digital camera was running out of battery, henceforth the lack of photos below. Sorry. I'll steal some from my roommates and put 'em up. But fortunately I did have my old-school film Canon camera, but they probably won't get developed 'til I get back.
So anyway, we basically just toured the city for about 6 hours. There's not many specific landmarks, but the city altogether is just great to walk around and take in. We went to the main cathedral, and it was pretty sweet, but it wasn't particularly mind-blowing if you've seen a lot of cathedrals - a lot that I saw in Italy were far better, and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona kinda put this one to shame in my mind, but it was still cool - plus, we got to sit down for a while.
From there, the guys and I went to the torture museum, which was interesting. It basically had about 20 or so torture devices from way back in the day - it's pretty amazing how much time and thought people can put into hurting (and usually killing) other human beings. I found it particularly interesting that water boarding was one of the medieval devices used to torture people.
We tried to find another museum that one of our tour guide books said was great and "undertouristed," but we ended up getting lost. And actually, getting lost was pretty fun. The streets are so narrow, and the buildings are so tall that it's pretty easy to lose your way, but we ended up in a very quiet residential area - there were some nice houses back there, and we ran across a Spanish-speaking parrot. There's nothing like an animal that probably speaks a language better than you can to really destroy the ol' self-confidence. It was pretty funny.
But we eventually got back to Madrid last night safe and sound, and I walked uphill so much for so long that I felt justified going to a cheap local bar and enjoying some sangria with a bunch of kids from my program - have you ever seen someone make sangria? If you haven't, don't. Just tell yourself it's made w/ diet fruit juice and protein. The reality (3 huge scoops of sugar for one pitcher?!) is less healthful, and is conducive to a big-ass...well...big ass. It sure was good though.
So today we're all just loungin' around, watchin' some tv, and attempting to study for tomorrow. Let's just say this - we're doing 66% of those things very well. Hope everyone's doin' good back home!
Atocha train station in Madrid.
Inside the train station - it was a very cool station, they had a mini-rainforest inside w/ a pond full of turtles.
The platform bay - that was our train to Toledo.
Inside the station.
Streets of Toledo - the sun shades were very cool.
Streets of Toledo.
Me and the roommates w/ a statue of some old dude. I can't remember what his name was, but apparently he was important.