Europe Snapshots: Day 23

On Saturday BreeAnn and I, along with the Merrill’s (our hosts while staying in Madrid) took a trip to Toledo, Spain.  Toledo is about 30 minutes away by train and was the old capital of Spain.  Overall it was a beautiful city and nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a day.

Tip Top

Tip Top

Recreation

Reenactment

Ceiling

Ceiling in the Toledo Cathedral

Storefront

Storefront- Photo by BreeAnn

Vespa

Vespa

Coupe

Enjoying the scenery

The streets

The streets

Views

The Tagus River wrapping around Toledo

Roof Tops

Roof Tops

Bridge

The Alcantara Bridge

Palace

The Alcazar of Toledo

Restaraunt

Restaraunt- Photo by BreeAnn

Toledo Door

Toledo Door

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arts and snacks

on day 19, we had an excursion of the arts. our first goal was to get inside the sagrada familia. in the morning, we took the metro and stood in a lengthy line (which thankfully, moved very quickly) snacking on some yogurt before getting inside the awe-inspiring cathedral. my favorite part of the building may have been the first thing we saw – the huge, modern depiction of the passion of the christ. it was so unique and full of emotion and thought. we admired it for a long while, before entering inside. the sagrada familia is still being built, so the sounds of hammering and drills echoed through the high ceilings. it felt like a breezy forest inside, and i was amazed by how different this space was from all the other cathedrals and churches we’d visited. we couldn’t stop craning our necks and looking up.

we enjoyed the completed nativity facade for awhile before taking an elevator up into one of the towers. we peeked out of small windows and took in views of barcelona before following hundreds of winding stairs back down to the ground floor. we saw the museum and gaudi’s crypt below, taking our time to study the plaster models of the unfinished glory facade. then, we exited and took some photos in a nearby park, loving the sunny day. lunch was some delicious falafel that we ate in our apartment, while we plotted our next move.

for a late afternoon snack, we finally indulged in the chocolate con churros we’d heard so much about (dipping some deep fried churros into a cup of creamy chocolate). it was a yummy treat, but we decided not to drink the leftover chocolate (which, apparently, may people do). then we got inside of the santa maria del mar, built in the 1300s. it was a massive church that we’d walked by a few times, so it was good to see the spacious interior.

last but not least, we decided to go to the picasso museum, which was surprisingly enjoyable. it was interesting to see his style progress through different stages and experimentations. it was a well thought-out space and we enjoyed being able to spend so much time to learn about his life and works. the museum was inside of 3 old, renovated mansions that had been connected together, and we liked the atmosphere of it.

dinner was in the plaza real, where we met up with brad and rachel again to sample some sangria and paella. we had a great dinner full of good conversation and laughs. we actually closed the place down, and were the last ones to leave. we are lucky that david got to connect with her on facebook before we arrived. they definitely made our experience a memorable one.

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Europe Snapshots: Day 22

We started our second day in Madrid with the Reina Sofia Museo, one of the top art museums for modern art.  After walking around the city and hitting a few more sights, we capped the day off the way we finished, with another art museum.  This time we went to the very prestigious Prado Museum.  After a bit of research we found that it was free for two hours a day.  It was easily my favorite museum yet.  I only wish I had more time in it.

Reina Sofia Museo

Reina Sofia Museo

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

Standing in line for the Prado

Standing in line for the Prado

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Europe Snapshots: Day 21

Our first day in Madrid.

Park

Parque de Retiro

Park

Parque de Retiro

Peacock

Peacock at Parque de Retiro

Thing

Plaza Independencia

Old Post Office

Plaza de Cibeles

Thing

Metropolis

0 Meters

The Center of Spain

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Europe Snapshots: Day 20

For our last full day in Barcelona we took it easy and  enjoyed a few more sights.

Safe Spot

Safe Spot

La Catedral- Photo by BreeAnn

La Catedral- Photo by BreeAnn

La Catedral

La Catedral

Human Carne Protest

Animal Rights Protest

Buildings- Photo by BreeAnn

Buildings- Photo by BreeAnn

Gaudi

Casa Batllo- Photo by BreeAnn

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Europe Snapshots: Day 19

Tuesday was one of my favorite days of our trip.  We visited the Sagrade Familia and the Picasso Museum.  Both places were huge highights for me.  The more I see of Antoni Gaudi’s work, the more I’m convinced he was a genius.  He thought so far out of the box.

Passion Facade at the Sagrada Familia

Passion Facade at the Sagrada Familia

Peter's Denial

Peter’s Denial

Stained Glass

Stained Glass

From the back to the front

From the back to the front

High above

High above

The forest

The forest

Barcelona from the Sagrada Familia

Barcelona from the Sagrada Familia

Enjoying the Sagrada Familia

Enjoying the Sagrada Familia

Door of the Sagrade Familia

Door of the Sagrade Familia

Trying out this whole hat thing.

Trying out this whole hat thing.

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in search of the modernisme movement

our first full day in barcelona was a great introduction to the neighborhood and the city. we took in a lot of sights. in the morning, we started with a walking tour of the “old city,” taking in the narrow alleyways and maze of plazas and side streets. we ate at a hippie little vegetarian restaurant, enjoying the healthier, lighter fare and choosing the set menu that concluded with a brownie and some rich flan. we walked on the famous, tourist-heavy ped-street called la rambla before ducking into the mercat de la boqueria, a huge market full of legs of jamon (cured ham) and other parts of miscellaneous animals. we then walked over to marvel at palau guell, one of gaudi’s early buildings, then into placa reial, a plaza with some light posts designed by gaudi, then we really got into the maze of the barri gottic, as we gawked at the gothic masterpiece the catedral, saw parts of old roman walls, and looked at the eglesia de santa maria del mar, another huge gothic church.

next up was a gaudi-filled afternoon (antoni gaudi was an artist and architect who embraced the modernism movement at the turn of the century in barcelona and is world-renowned for his innovative design genius. also, a devout catholic and catalan nationalist). we visited the casa batilo and the la pedrera, 2 buildings gaudi was commissioned to redesign. we could only afford to go in one, so we chose la pedrera (the quarry), a huge building with a flowing facade and a rooftop full of fantastical figures complete with swooping, curving walkways. we were certainly amazed by the thought and brilliance he put into every space.

last but not least, we made it over to park guell, a green space gaudi was commissioned to turn into a miniature garden city of houses for the wealthy. the project was eventually abandoned, but not before gaudi created over 3 kilometers of roads, paths, and public areas. we saw his sala hipostila, which was meant to be a market, guarded by a famous, mosaic-covered lizard. we also enjoyed the banc de trencadis, the tile-covered curving bench that wraps around the roof of the market. we also hiked up to tibidabo, the highest hill in the park, where we watched the sun set and tried not to get blown off by the strong gusts of wind.

walking back from the park, we predictably got lost, following one path to another in the growing darkness. we finally emerged into a small, run-down neighborhood that we hurried through, searching for bigger and bigger streets until finally finding a main thoroughfare. what vacation is complete without the compulsory getting lost phase, right? to reward ourselves (and to rest our weary legs) we found a low-key taverna in our neighborhood (near the catedral) called babia. it was crammed full of locals, and our waiter helped us pick out the good tapas (we’re loving patatas bravas, croquettas, and the sweet sausage that i can’t name in spanish right now) which we devoured and washed down with the cheap-as san miguel. classic spain. we wandered home in the bustling night, full of families and groups of young people just starting their evening. the city is buzzing at all hours, and it’s thrilling to feel a part of it, even if it’s only for a brief moment.

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