Its been a busy month of so here in Reus with me, and I’m sure its been the same with you wherever this finds you. Everything seems to happen at once! After two lots of visitors, whose company I enjoyed so much, I was left with a few days of Easter holidays to recover! Easter is a big thing here in Spain, as you are probably aware, and everybody gears up for the big solemn parades over Easter weekend. But the weather didn’t smile upon them and there was a lot of disappointment with cancellations due to heavy rain. I was caught unawares on the Friday as the shops all closed-it hadn’t even crossed my mind! And I was on short supplies of the important things like matches and toilet roll (yes, eeek!) but I managed to survive!
I spent Easter Monday with some friends who invited me with the usual crowd of family and friends to spend the day in their ‘country house’ as they call it. Erase the image ‘country house’ brings to your mind, nothing grand like we would think, but a little cottage 5mins outside of Reus. We had a great lunch/dinner of seafood Paella and many ‘Monas’ fro afters. ‘La Mona’ is the Easter cake that comes in varied forms and is eaten on Easter Monday with family. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed being in the company of other, and the food was yummmmy! Plenty of photos, as usual on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/peigi_pest/
During a trip to Barcelona a couple of months ago, I noticed some posters advertising ‘La Bella y La Bestia’ that is The Beauty and The Beast broadway musical in Spanish. I got quite excited at the thought of it, so I snapped a photo of the details, and looked up the details online later on. Two of my Uni friends who are in Barcelona quite liked the idea of going as well, so I checked out availability, prices etc and we managed to get a good deal. It’s a great show, even in a ‘foreign’ language! We really enjoyed it, the singing was amazing and the dancing and effects just as good. I made a Barcelona trip out of it, staying with Erin on couch cushions on her floor (actually more comfortable than my bed in Reus!) and we went out fro dinner after the show. I spent the next day in Barcelona with Erin, doing some shopping (I need to stop that) and we went to the Chocolate Museum! Yes, there’s such a thing! Neither of us had been before, so we thought we might as well! And they accepted out student ID so we got a discount. I thought it would be bigger, and have some kind of tasting, but it was very interesting, and amazing to see what sculptures can be made from chocolate. And our tickets were little bars of chocolate, so I shouldn’t complain!
That brings me up to two weekends ago, the May holiday weekend. We were off school on the Thursday and Friday, and Erin and I had made plans a couple of months back, with our friend Nicki from Uni, to go and visit her in Madrid. Well, she actually lives in Alcala, just outside the city itself (a lot closer than Reus is to Barcelona).We had found cheap flights from Girona to Madrid, but we could have caught the AVE from Barcelona and been there in a couple of hours. The AVE is the high speed train in Spain. It would have been good to try it out, but you don’t turn down cheap flights! I wasn’t very chuffed at having to go to Girona airport again, I’m fed up with it and Ryanair, but it worked out okay in the end!
We had a great couple of days in Madrid. On the Thursday night, Nicki took us around Alcala, the birthplace of Cervantes and so plenty of statues of himself and characters from his writing such as Don Quixote. Alcala has a major University, and is full of students. Maybe a bit like the equivalent of St Andrew’s in Scotland. We stayed until Sunday morning, and fortunately Nicki’s school also had a holiday so she could be our guide. But unfortunately, most places were closed on the Friday, so we saw a lot of places but couldn’t go inside! There was also a protest marching on the streets, which allowed some interesting photo opportunities, especially in being able to wander in the middle of the road with no traffic! The weather was beautiful though so we made the most of it in the parks. In El Retiro park there’s a small lake, or huge pond really, where you can hire a rowing boat for up to 5 people for 45 minutes. Great fun, once you get the hang of it! We went back on the Saturday when some of our plans didn’t go…as planned! Everywhere was so busy! I think it had the equivalent of two days tourists after the Friday holiday, and also a lot of Spanish tourists with it being a national holiday. We had planned on outsmarting the crowds and going to the Palace for the tour first thing in the morning, but it turned out we were either pretty dumb, or everybody else had had the same idea! Not worth staying in the queue in the blazing sun for hours we decided. We did go into the Cathedral beside the Palace however, which was great. I’ve never been in a Cathedral wuite like it before, the colours and patterns are so unusual. You’ll see what I mean if you look at the photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/peigi_pest/
We had a similar problem when we went back to the Reina Sofia art gallery, but with an added problem. When we arrived the queue wasn’t so long, and we were quite pleased, especially when it grew quite quickly behind us. But, alas, we soon found out why! Moments before we reached the door, we realised that it was past 2.30 and that it’s free to get into the Reina Sofia from 2.30. So, it was packed! A lot of rooms were being worked on as well, so a lot of what we wanted to see was closed to the public. And the queue for Guernica was nearly as terrible as for the Palace, and when you reached it you probably wouldn’t be able to see it for people anyway. Shame to pass on that too. NB to all, go when you have to pay and not on a holiday! But we went upstairs to the other permanent collection, with more recent pieces of work. I quite enjoyed wandering through there, although some of the exhibitions were just scary, one with come panda costumes in particular. I always wonder who decides that something is ‘art’ rather than just rubbish? Where do you draw the line? Is there even a line? And if there is, should there be one at all? It’s especially tricky, I think, for places like the Reina Sofia, where they have ‘special’ collections. The one who decides what ‘special’ is has some weight on their shoulders! I really enjoyed a collection of old black and white photographs of Spainish life from maybe the 40’s/50’s, (not sure, but around then). Maybe I appreciated them more as I recognised some of the streets of Barcelona! I really liked them anyway.
We had a great trip anyway, and Madrid is very interesting, such grandure, and amazing Parks. But I think I prefer Barcelona! I’m biased I know, but Barcelona seems to have so much more to offer, and such a range in one city-you can be on a mountain one day, at the beach the next; walking along narrow streets in the Gothic Quarter, or rambling along the broad modern streets; you can go back in time in Cathedrals or Modernista buildings or make the most of the present at the Zoo, the Aquarium or the Fair. But in saying that, both cities are wonderfully different and I wouldn’t want them to be the same. Another place in Spain visited anyway!
So, I’ve begun counting down the weeks until hometime-I’ve booked my flight at the end of June, Thursday the 25th of June to be precise. Which leaves me with 3 more weeks of working, and then nearly four ‘free’ in June. They’re not really free, but I won’t be working! I’m looking forward to a variety of visitors and hopefully getting to explore some more, and of course, get to the beach! Erin, Nicki and I were talking about how we feel pressured to come back to Scotland with a tan! After al, we have spent ‘a year abroad’! But we didn’t have much sun during the winter!! They both burnt a little in Madrid, even with cream on the second day. Guess what, I didn’t even get a hint of change! Zip! NADA! I don’t understand it! All I have is a slightly browner face and hands from walking to school all the time! So, I’ll have to work on that, if the clouds would go away this week.
Sorry for keeping you ages with this, as they say, it never rains but it pours with words from Peigi!