We flew into Madrid on Wednesday, June 24 and stayed until the morning of Sunday, June 28th. While we were there we went to the Royal Palace, the Prado, Reina Sofia, and ate lots of good food!
|D and I after arriving to Madrid|
|At the Prado–taking a break after seeing so many great paintings|
|Gardens outside the Prado|
Madrid is all about its green space, which I love! There are beautiful gardens outside of the Prado, outside of the Royal Palace, and there is a huge park called Retiro Park in the middle of the city (similar to Central Park in NYC).
|Outside the Royal Palace|
I’ve been to Madrid a few times (this was my 3rd time), but I had never been inside the Royal Palace. It was quite incredible! Each room has a theme, and some of them were quite extravagant. There was even a room with about 4 different Stradivarius instruments which was incredible to see–each of them is probably worth about a million dollars!
There are lots of pictures from Madrid, but I think the one above pretty much sums up the experience. We spent a lot of time eating and drinking (wine, beer, and sangria). They are so social in Spain–dinner is late at night (around 11 pm), but often outside, so even though it’s dark and seems like things should be shut down, there are people everywhere out and about. We enjoyed Madrid so much!
The next stop was Seville which is where I had the academic conference that actually brought us to Spain. I don’t have any pictures 😦 because most of the time was spent inside listening to various presentations, but overall it was a good conference. I gave a talk which I think went quite well, and I was happy with the response from the attendees (lots of people came up and talked to me afterwards about it). From Seville, we flew to Santander which is on the northern coast of Spain. My adviser and his wife have a flat in Suances (about a half hour from Santander), so we went to visit them. I had never been, so I was very excited!
|Landscape in Santillana del Mar|
One of the first things we did in Northern Spain was visit the town of Santillana del Mar–a medieval town that is somewhat frozen in time. There were lots of neat things that we saw, but probably the coolest was the Cave of Altamira. There are cave paintings here that are 40,000 years old!! Unfortunately you can no longer enter the cave (because they are trying to keep it preserved), but they have made a really nice replica that you can walk through. It is about 3 km outside of the town, so we walked there and got some really great views of the countryside.
Another highlight of Northern Spain was hiking the Picos de Europa. We took a cable car to the top, and then hiked about 10 miles (mostly down, although there were lots of small, rolling hills) back to the starting point. The people who accompanied us (my adviser, his family, and several of their friends) brought several types of cured meats, cheeses, and bread on the hike, so we had a lovely lunch on the side of the mountain.
|About to take a cable car to the top|
During the hike we saw several herds of sheep, goats, cows, and even horses! It was a gorgeous place, and I feel lucky that we had people who know the area well to take us on this fun trip. 🙂 The day after the hike, we went to a cave that had cave paintings from 24,000 years ago. This cave we were allowed to enter, so we actually got to see the paintings first hand–the paintings were of deer, and although they seemed simplistic when you first looked at them, the tour guide pointed out that the artist had actually used perspective as well as several other complicated techniques. How incredible!
Before we left Spain, we spent half a day in Santander where we went to the beach and rented bikes to ride around the town. We took a train back to Madrid and had a couple days there before we left. We mostly just explored the city and made sure to try lots of different kinds of food. We left on Wednesday, July 8th after being in the country for 2 weeks. We had an incredible time and I can’t wait for our next adventure. 🙂