We left Thursday morning and went to right to Segovia to see the aqueduct. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so cool to see such an engineering feat constructed so long ago. And there isn't any sort of filling between all of the rocks... so basically all of them fit together perfectly. And it also goes down at the perfect angle that water could travel for more than 30 km... CRAZY. It's one thing to learn about these things in class and a whole another thing to experience it in person.
Then after the aqueduct we went to the El Alcanzar which is a castle in Segovia. We had a tour of this as well.. It had so many cool details in the ceilings especially. Also, my high school profa told me that disney modeled their world castle after this. so that's pretty cool!!
Then from there we hit up Madrid!! We got there kind of late, so ended up eating dinner and then just chilling for the rest of the night. But that was needed because the next day we had lots of stuff!
Friday we woke up and went to the Royal Tapestry factory in Madrid. We weren't allowed to take pictures but it was very cool to see the process of how they make the tapestries that have been used for a very very long time. Then from there, we went to the Real Palacio en Madrid. WOW, it was huge but had the most amazing details. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures of that either. After the Palacio we had free time. We walked around the city and then returned to our hostel for a nap. The Museo Reina Sofia was free from 7-9 so we went there and saw Picasso's famous painting Guernica. It was definitely cool to see some modern art in person and especially this piece of Picasso which he painted in response to a bombing of a small town during the Spanish Civil War. We ate at 9 and then attempted to go out to a club but the cover charge was a bit too pricey for our likings. Because I hadn't felt good earlier in the day, I opted to go back and get a good nights sleep.
Saturday we had free time in the morning and a group of us decided to go shopping. We went to Nike Madrid (COOLEST STORE EVER) and a few others. Lindsey, Martha, and I scored some major deals at the store Lefties! I got 2 dresses for 8 euros :) We ate lunch at the Museo del Jamon (Yum!) and then went to our next planned activity at the Museo del Prado. This museum is ginormous and basically has every significant old painting possible. Profa could only talk to us as a group for a certain amount of time so we hit up the big ones pretty quickly and then were free to wander. After Prado, Lauren, Profa, and I decided to pay to go to the Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza. Best decision ever!! Totally worth the extra cost. This museum is one of the best private collections museums and had tons of art that I am much more interested in. I got to see a few Monet's (EEK! my favorite) and others including Georgia O'Keefe, some more Picasso, and lots of impressionists. I am SO glad we decided to go :) After that we went back and ate dinner and then we again tried to go out but Anna wasn't feeling well, so Lindsey, Anna, and I headed back to the hostel and just hung out.
Sunday morning we left and stopped at the Valley of the Fallen. This is an extremely controversial site in Spain. It was built by the dictator Franco and is also where he is buried. Some Spainards refuse to visit it because it was built by him. It is also a basilica and monastery. Other Spainards regard it purely as a Spiritual site. It was SOO cool. We had the most amazing weather and the view from the basilica is gorgeous. It's also been really interesting learning about the whole Spanish civil war and Franco's rule. Prior to coming here, I had never learned about it. I was shocked to hear how long he ruled for (around 40 years!) and the things that occurred during his reign. After that, we went and visited a Monastery ...... this was horrible. Our tour guide was kind of crazy and we were all ready to be back home at this point. But nevertheless, life goes on. And after that tour, we were on our way!
And that about sums up excursion number 1 for our Calvin group! On another note, my mom found out yesterday that she got approved for her leave of absence so my parents can COME TO SPAIN!! EEK. I am so excited :-) I was so nervous GRPS would be all silly and not allow her to come. But now that it's approved, we can start planning! This definitely gives me something amazing to look forward to at the end. I can't wait to show them around this beautiful country!