Just last weekend (week of Thanksgiving) my family was in town visting for the week, it was really great to see them and awesome to spend time with them especially for the holiday. Since we all had gotten in on Sunday (I was coming back from Rome) we were all beat so we just chilled for the day and got "dinner" at Mercado de San Miguel, this big market in Madrid that sells all kinds of tapas, food, drink, and pastries. Over the course of the week we went around Madrid and I showed them all the must see sights and then some of the places I frequent. We took a bus tour of Madrid which was actually pretty cool because it took us to the southern part of the city which I don't know very well. Gotta say though sitting on the top of a double decker bus with an open roof in the end of november with only a sweatshirt on while Clare kept the window open to be able take a picture of literally everything that we passed was not my best idea.
Xmas picture in Toledo
My Dad and I went on a tour of the palace together, it was my first time going inside and the place blew me away, its got to be hands down the nicest most lavish palace/castle I've ever seen. Theres a whole room made out of porcelain and the chapel is literally covered in gold and black marble.
Paloma (host mom), Dad, and Mum
While they were here we took two day trips, one to Segovia and one to Toldeo. Since I'd already been to Segovia I was able to show them around there too which was fun and also being with them we had time to see more stuff that I didn't get to see when I was there the first time, like going inside the Cathedral for example. Toledo was my favorite of the two though, its another old town thats set up on a hill just south of Madrid. We took the high speed train there which was really comfortable and got us there in only 35 minutes. It was really fun taking a trip with them since our family trips together always get really goofy and end up being us dying laughing for the majority of the time usually because Joe and Kitty are trying to act our age. In Toledo we saw the Greco house and museum, the Jewish museum, Victorio Macho Museum, the Cathedral, and the famous Burial of Count Orgaz by Greco. The Greco painting were really cool, he has the great impressionist/distorted/dark colors thing he goes with which is really cool. So when we got back on our last night my mom and I went to the Prado, it was again my first time and we were there for an hour and a half and had to rush to even make a dent in seeing everything. But we saw the Greco's, Velazquez's, Goya's, and a bunch of other famous painters thanks to Rick Steves and it was a blast hanging out with my mahjah. It was a bummer to have them go at then end but it also meant my time in Madrid was coming to a close (a subject that has been made off limits). It was great to see them and I'll see them again soon enough.
I have completely neglected my blog yet again and I have no excuse for it so let me attempt to recap my trip to Rome.
Three weekends ago I flew out to Rome for a short trip to visit a couple of my good friends from my old school Loyola University Chicago. I was only there from Friday morning until early Sunday morning but I managed to do and see everything you can think of in that the short time I had.
It was great to see Addy and Sam since I haven't seen them since I left Loyola, and also because they know the city so well and were great tour guides while I was there. First thing I did off of the plane was go see the Colosseum with John (buddy from here in Madrid) before he headed off to Florence and I met up with my friends. It was amazing to think that I was able to walk around and stand in a place where ancient Roman gladiators fought and royal senators and emperors would sit and watch. To me thats what one of the coolest things about Europe, is just how old it is and how much history it has compared to our "young" country. From the Colosseum we walked across the street to see the Temple of Athena and one of the big, old city gates (I can't remember the name). Although there is nothing really left of the Temple it was cool to see the remains of where one of Rome's most popular and special goddesses was worshipped.
The rest of the day we walked around and saw the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Wedding Cake building, went up to this hill and looked out over the entire city from a place called the Zodiac, and saw some of the famous government buildings around that area.
View From the Zodiac
The next day we spent most of the day at Vatican City where we walked through the Vatican Museum (place is hugeee), St. Peter's Square, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Seeing the Vatican was one of the coolest and most memorable things I've done since I've been abroad, there was so much cool stuff and so much history, and its just a really special and famous place to see and now I get to say I've been there and done that. After I had the best panini I've ever had at a restaurant across the street from the Vatican and then got gelato from Old Bridge gelateria which was 3 huge scoops for only 2 euro... it was too good to be true, but the best part is it was true. That night for dinner I had the best meal I have had ever thanks to Akon, ok maybe not ever but top 5 for sure. We went to Jamm Ja', a nice Neapolitan place in the Campo di Fiori, Alex gave us specific instructions on what to get since she had spent her entire semester abroad hanging out there; so for dinner we had margarita pizza, bruschetta, pasta bolognese, wine, tiramisu, and homemade lemon sorbet... meal blew my mind in terms of what thought was possible for food to taste as good as.
Sam, Addy, and me in St. Peter's Square
After Italy it was back on home to Madrid to see my parents who were flying in earlier that morning!