The Royal Palace
Friday, March 13
Friday marked the seventh full day of this incredible immersion trip. During the week, I had the opportunity to tour Madrid on several occasions, make a day trip to Barcelona, visit El Escorial, walk through the Prado Museum, and see where the renowned Spanish playwright Lope de Vega lived, among a myriad of other experiences. Today, however, was unique in the fact that I was able to see the official residence of the current King of Spain, Juan Carlos I. I figure the Oriental Palace, as it is also called, was going to be elegant, but in order to truly understand just how over-the-top this place is, one must see it firsthand. The tour started with a walk up the marble staircase to the second floor. The stairs are unlike traditional ones because they were constructed with less distance between them in order to accommodate the need for royalty to walk straight ahead without looking down. Once reaching the top of the stairs, I was taken aback by the massive fresco above (A fresco is essentially a ceiling painting). If I remember correctly, there was a fresco in almost every room we saw and an Italian painted each. We walked through various halls, dining rooms, throne rooms, silver and yellow rooms, a string instrument room, and even a cinema room. When done with the official tour, we also had the opportunity to visit the armory (No, it did not have a 24-hour computer lab). We were able to see around 15 rooms and although they were only a mere fraction of the more than 2000 total rooms, they sure did make you wonder how a Palace as big as this one could have so much luxury packed into each one. The exquisite detail, excessive decorations, and entertaining tour guide made the tour something I will surely remember for the rest of my life.
After the Royal Palace, Drs. Jaén-Portillo and Rogers, Jorge, Michael, Mitch, and I had lunch at a suggested fried bacalao (cod) restaurant. Like the previous Spanish dining experiences from earlier in the week, I was not disappointed as the food was top notch. Then, following the Spanish tradition, I took my siesta (nap) for the day. Well rested, I then took in the extensive shopping opportunities Madrid has to offer. Later, some of us met up to have some sweets and go to a chocolate shop where we sipped on chocolate and played Spanish card games. Dinner for me was a salami bocadillo (sandwich) and then it was off to bed in order to prepare to do it all over again the next day.
-Andy Leshovsky ‘09