Skip to main content

Escorial

Following lunch we boarded the bus and drove about 45 minutes to see El Escorial, a 16th century palace - the most important palace in Europe from that era.



It is enormous - and was built in just 21 years.  Today it serves as a school, monastery, offices, etc.  Originally it also served as a major scientific research center.  The hand drawn maps of all areas of the globe were most impressive.  Seeing the rendering of what they created as a map of the Americas (just 60-70 years after Columbus sailed) was incredible -so much accurate detail!

The style here is in stark contrast to the Royal Palace of this morning - but equally impressive.  Some features include:  16 courtyards, the traveling chair room (and yes, the chair is still there!), the room showcasing the rice paper maps, tombs of Spanish royalty and then areas where their families are entombed, and a spectacular basilica.  The church here is at the highest level of the grounds, except the king's room which is 11 steps higher (and has a view of the main altar) - showing his importance in relation to God --- God being the highest, then the king, then the church, then everything else......  very self-important kings here. :)

We then boarded our bus and returned to downtown Madrid for a sightseeing tour by bus.  Our local guide Jose (who returns with us tomorrow) was great - very knowledgeable and a fun sense of humor.

Don't worry -- even with all this touring many found time for shopping. :)

Tonight we head out on our own for dinner in Madrid.  Thanks to the research of Esther and Cindy - several of us plan to watch the Patriots game tonight (perhaps not all of it - the start time is 10:30pm here).

We then have an early start tomorrow as we depart Madrid for Cordoba, with a stop in Toledo.

PS - Last night we were joined by Madrid native Fatima Velez '90.  She was wonderful!!!!!  She shared so many insights and fun stories over dinner.  She even typed up a list of tips for us in Madrid!  Several of us then headed out for a walk with her after dinner.  As the night went on some of us called it a night and others stayed out late.  We wondered into an outdoor wine tasting event - and Fatima got us in for free!  Then she took us to the area she termed 'the jungle' where the young people hang out.  What a great way to spend out first night in Spain!  Thanks Fatima - we thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and look forward to catching up when you are on the Cape this summer!!!!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Granada - Dos

We next drove to downtown Granada where we checked into our hotel and had some free time.  Several of us met up with some special guests later while others explored the city on their own and enjoyed some of its finer offerings.

Our special guests were from the University of Granada's GRIIS Program - the one Stonehill has a partnership with for our students to spend a semester.  Amalia and Teresa work for GRIIS and they coordinated a lovely walk down the Avenido de Constitucion with Jessica '14 and Elyse '14 as well as Sara '12 (who has returned to Granada for a year after graduation to get post-graduate work done).  All five of them were welcoming and informative.  We saw some of the university and heard some history of the city, and some current facts as well:  300,000 people live in the city but 100,000 are students!!  This was apparent as the whole city has a college-town feel to it.

Check out more about the program:  GRIIS Program

We all gathered for dinner and wer…

Barcelona - Dos

Day two in Barcelona has been fantastic!

Jose gave us lots of information on the artist Gaudi - not born here but arrived in 1852 to attend the university.  His artistic style and influence can be seen across the city.

We stopped at Park Guell which was an amazing outdoor area Gaudi designed near the home he lived in.  Inspired by nature, fairy tales and classical legends the park is beautiful.  With its kissing benches, 'candy house', salamander and plaza with the longest bench in the world it is a work of art in itself.

Some of us made the walk up to the top where the three crosses are - and found even more breathtaking views of the city.

From there we headed back downtown for a short walk to La Sagrada Familia cathedral.  Design by Gaudi and still not yet finished, it is very unique and ornate.  Just walking around the outside, Jose had enough informatiion to share about its intricacies that it took some time.  The line for entrance was nearly wrapped around the church.  Jo…

Cordoba

First our morning started with an alarm - or a lack of one; as Mary Jane and Pat's room never received a wakeup call.  So everyone else was on the bus ready to go when they finally got a knock on the door.  What troopers they were, though!  In 15 minutes they were on the bus with everyone and not long after they were able to laugh at the 'chaos' of it all.

Our local guide Isabel was just delightful - and clearly has a love for her city.  She tells us that filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is from here as we begin our walk.

First we go through the old Jewish center.  Nearly all of the city's buildings are white-washed (originally by the women we hear).

We stop at an old Jewish synagogue and learn some history of the area.  Then we stop at the statue of a famous rabbi (can you name him?) which legend is that by rubbing his foot and then touching your own head you will get taller and wiser.  most of us did that - some hoping for extra height, others for a bit of wisdom!



Esther wo…