October 1st, 2013

THE PRADO and the little gem they call Lisbon.

On Tuesday, I visited the Prado with my good friend Susan. The Prado is Spain’s main Art Museum and is located in Madrid, and houses paintings by Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez (which are two of my favorite painters, aside from Gaudi), amongst others.. The museum is free Monday to Thursday from 6-8pm so we were able to enjoy part of the museum while not paying. The Prado is MASSIVE (as to be expected), so it will take multiple trips to get through the whole museum, but I am determined to see”La Meninas” by Velazquez, which is my favorite Spanish painting. The metro stop near the Prado, Banco de Espana, is where the City Hall is located (pictured in this blog), which is so far my favorite building in this glorious city.

Thursday through Sunday night I was in Lisbon, Portugal with three friends. I now consider Lisbon a hidden gem- Not many people consider traveling there, but it was definitely worth the trip. Lisbon reminded me of Madrid due to all the beautiful architecture, plazas, and little cafes. We visited the most intricate monastery I have ever seen, called Jeronimos Monastery (pictured), and ate little custard pies at a famous Pasteleria (Pastry Shop) next to the monastery. On Sunday we visited Sintra, a small city with beautiful castles and churches 45 minutes outside Lisbon by train. We also climbed a mountain for about 2 hours in total to get to a castle known as “The Great Wall of Lisbon” in the pouring rain, which made for an interesting experience. I stayed in a hostel ¬†for the first time, and have to say, it was a positive experience- We received free breakfast, and one night ate in at the hostel for unlimited wine and tapas for a small price, plus it was a nice, clean place to stay for relatively cheap.

Two days until I am off again, this time to Barcelona!

Things I have noticed:

– I need to learn how to sit and enjoy my food. That’s probably what helps Spaniards keep the weight off, so I am willing to try that too!

-Spaniards love American music… I hear the top hits from the US everywhere I go.

-Contrary to common belief, tortillas and margaritas are hard to find.

-Even though I go to school in Chicago and am usually very aware of my surroundings, that does not mean I am off-limits to the potential to get pick-pocketed.

-Portuguese is not very similar to Spanish.

-Night buses are not ideal for a good nights rest, but are cheap and pretty efficient.

-The intricacy of almost all architecture I have seen in Europe is indescribably gorgeous. Sometimes I just stare at a building for twenty minutes to soak in all of the detail.

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