Skipped a week, sorry! The third weekend was spent in Madrid. Went to see the Prado museum and I got a personalized tour from my friend, Rachel, who did her senior thesis on de Goya. It was pretty awesome. Got to walk by the royal palace, but didn’t go in. Saw a lot of things from the outside. It’s difficult trying to visit a place in such a large group. Several of us stayed in Madrid for the night and did some shopping before enjoying some excellent Thai food. The others went out to party but my feet wouldn’t let me. I got 9 hours of sleep though! The next day we walked around a lot, but it was soooo hot and they were all too hung over so we ended up laying down on the grass in the shade until it was time to catch the bus back to Cuenca.
The week before we visited a gothic Cathedral in Cuenca – Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Gracia (“Basilica of Our Lady of Grace”). It was quite impressive. One of my favorite pieces was a life-sized sculpture of the last supper. There was much, much more though. The church was gigantic and it is amazing how much detail went into the art. Construction of the cathedral began in 1196 and finished in 1257. Can’t believe it’s 800 years old.
Yesterday, we went to Toledo. The city was beautiful. We saw the El Greco museum and his house, which was built near the end of the medieval period. El Greco was a painter from the Spanish Renaissance. He was born in Crete, but ended up in Toledo where he produced some of his most famous paintings.
We also toured the Sinagoga El Transito – the ceiling of which was absolutely stunning. It was made of wood, which was intricately carved by hand. It also housed many Jewish artifacts. We also got to see the outside of The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (Spanish: Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo). I did view some pictures online and wish I could have gone inside. Toledo is also known for its dessert, Mazapan (marzipan). I wanted to buy some, but at 45 euros for ½ of a kg (that’s almost $60 dollars a pound!) I passed it up.
When I was tired of shopping, I went and had an awesome hamburger with some fries. The foods I am going to eat almost immediately when I get home: Fried Chicken, directly when I leave the airport. Then a steak from Longhorn. At some point, wings; and finally, Chinese food.
Two weeks left. Then I can return to the U.S. The Spanish government is very corrupt. I know the U.S. government is too, but not as much as here, or at least here, everyone knows it – it’s kind of in the open. The unemployment rate here is around 50%. I can’t get over that. I can’t figure out how people are surviving. It’s weird. Ha! I learned in class this week that if you steal something that is less than $300 in value in Spain, and you do it without violence, you don’t go to jail. You go to the police station, get a good talking-to, and go home. If you get someone in a bad mood, you might get a small fine. Let’s see, that could be 20-30 bottles of wine….. just kidding.
Well, next week we go to Valencia. I’m not staying overnight. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.