Well today marked another day of adventure! I decided to return to the same area and go in the opposite direction to see some other sights, specifically El Museo del Prado. Since I pretty much have the metro system down, I figured I might as well try my luck with the bus this time. I guess I went to the wrong stop because I ended up on the wrong line. I could have sworn the map said it would go to a stop close to where I wanted to end up, but when we got to the end of the line, I got off and had no idea where I was. Because I had no where to be and all day to get there, it didn’t bother me that much. The thing I’ve noticed so far about this city is that it feels very safe. I know to remain aware and cautious and all that, but I’ve yet to feel endangered or threatened. Anyway, I meandered around some neighborhood until I happened upon a stop on what I again thought was the right line, and fortunately this time I was correct.
I ended up back at the park/garden place! Mind you this area is so huge that I was still lost, but I knew I was in the general vicinity. I wandered around for long time just observing everyone else, until I finally reached La Plaza de Independencia from where I started on route (I hoped) to the museum. I didn’t sleep very well last night which caused me to get kind of a late start this morning, so by this point I was starving. I stopped in a cafe and had a decent, yet overpriced meal (i.e. a sandwich and a coke for like $10). I actually think I found the nicest part of the city. There was some huge hotel that looked pretty fancy, then across the street was the Ritz. A little further down the road was the museum!
Now I wasn’t even really sure what this museum was, but I’ve heard it mentioned several times and Beatriz advised me to at least just check out the architecture. I decided to scope out the prices just for kicks and general admission was 14 euros, which is a little high but I hoped there would be a student discount. Turned out students were totally free!! It was actually a pretty cool building, and when I got inside I was very pleasantly surprised to see it was an art museum! I love art galleries and can pretty much navigate the one in St. Louis with my eyes closed (though that would be silly), so I immediately felt right at home. Some worker approached me and offered me a private walking tour in whichever European language I preferred for the special price of 30 euros. When I politely declined he graciously pointed me in the direction of the maps.
This place was unbelievably enormous! All four floors were packed with a seemingly never-ending labyrinth of rooms, which gave me a good opportunity to practice my cartography skills; I diligently navigated each level to make sure I saw every single piece of work in the place. I started off carefully examining every portrait and reading each full description in Spanish to maximize my time there, but then I realized it took me almost a whole hour to cover about half of the main floor. It was kind of a shame too because it turned out that those works, save for the Picasso exhibition, were of the least interest to me. Anyway, the galleries were organized by country and included works from Spain (obvs), Italy, Germany, and France. There was also a gallery labeled “black art”, which may be have been by Goya, and was rather interesting; it was very dark both in shading and content, but I got a kick out of it. One wing was full of roman and greek statues, the earliest of which dating back to 100 B.C! There were a couple of rooms that had the biggest canvases I’ve ever seen, and it was truly breath taking. Another floor had this vault where there were all these like crystal and gem things that someone had once owned…haha I don’t quite recall the whole back story (this was going on like hour 6), but they were cool to look at. Oh and perhaps the best part was seeing several paintings that I recognized from my high school Spanish book! I know I’ve said this word like every day, but it really was surreal to be there in person. Anyway, I emerged after several hours to a darkening sky and booked it to the subway station (though I ended up getting lost and having to back track quite a bit), then from the station to my apartment, and I made it inside right as it started pouring.
So far things have been pretty well here overall. We did have a slight miscommunication in regards to dinner, but it wasn’t a big deal. Beatrice doesn’t really eat at night and hadn’t yet planned to feed me for two whole days. Apparently in the grocery store on Friday she told me to get something for dinners, but I guess I missed that. It’s not like I was worried about going hungry though, I had all the snacks I’d packed for the plane which consisted of cliff bars, pumpkin seeds, and cheezits, as well as an endless supply of water, so what else does one really need? Besides that, for whatever reason, I didn’t really have an appetite the last couple of days anyway. It did however, return with a vengeance late last night so I was relieved when this morning she told me to plan for dinner at 8:30. It was actually really good. I had spaghetti with bread and a peach. Breakfast has been pretty much how I anticipated it would be, consisting of a yogurt, a piece of toast, and coffee, which is kind of weird. Its kind of like hot chocolate in that you warm up the liquid in the microwave then stir in the coffee. We definitely had a misunderstanding the first morning; I told her I take milk with my coffee, so she instructed me to first pour the milk in the cup. I put in the usual amount, thinking we’d pour the coffee in afterwords, but she kept saying how it wasn’t enough. I eventually understood and filled it the rest of the way with water and boom problem solved.
I think I’m actually doing a decent job of fitting in here too. Yesterday on the way to the metro, some lady actually stopped me and asked me where a road was! Fortunately someone nearby overheard and told her before I even had to respond so I maintained the facade of a local. Then today on the bus another lady sat down next to me and started telling me about her back problems and what not, so at least they are assuming I can speak Spanish. Its the people in the service industry you have to watch out for though.
Well tomorrow I finally get to go to my school and figure out where I’ll be spending the majority of this next year. I’m actually really excited about starting classes, but like every semester, I’m sure that will fade in a couple of days. I’m a little nervous the people in administration will be upset that I got the dates mixed up and came early, but oh well, what’s done is done and there’s nothing we can do about it now. I’m also super excited to meet the other students in my program! I guess it hasn’t really dawned on me yet that I’m actually going for my master’s and so the course load will be probably be intense, but we’ll see. With that being said, I should probably get some sleep 🙂