I returned home from Spain on Saturday night...and this time my luggage was waiting for me on the other end. BONUS! Our flights were on time, and we made our connection in Chicago with plenty of time. The only negative was having to navigate the ridiculous rat maze of the Madrid airport again, which I mentioned in a previous post that it reminded me of an Ikea. Once we checked our bags and went through security, we were sent up and down several escalators, a train, countless turns, and numerous passport checks before we reached our terminal, and of course, our flight was at the very end of the terminal. The security there was noticeably higher than anywhere I'd flown out of before (this includes Washington DC, which is TIGHT), but maybe that's just how it is in Europe. Some of those pesky Basque Separatists had been setting off car bombs in the northern part of the country the day before, so maybe that had something to do with it. I started reading up on them a little more tonight...I'm really glad that I read this article from 2006 AFTER I got home. Explains why they're a tad uptight with airport security in Madrid. Yikes.
Many of you know that I'm not a very good flier. In fact, I have to take meds to have a non-anxiety riddled experience. I know all that extra security should make me feel better, but it just makes me wonder what security knows that they're not telling the rest of us. While I was going through my 389th checkpoint, having my passport scrutinized for the umpteenth time, I started to feel really uneasy. And of course, I'd taken my anti-freak out pill much later than I normally like to, and it hadn't started to kick in yet. By the time I got in line to board at the gate, I was doing everything I could to keep it together. I sang show tunes in my head, thought about the people I was excited to see at home, chatted up my co-workers I was traveling with, whatever I could to distract myself and keep calm. But it wasn't going away, and of course, we were seated in the back of the massive A340 jet. Being stuck in the back of a plane does wonders for someone with some claustrophobia/flying issues. And when I say we were in the back, I mean THE EFFING BACK. I'm 99% sure we passed by Rosa Parks sitting in a seat closer to the front than we were. After an eternity, and another 1/2 of a pill to keep me from literally running off the plane, the doors finally closed, and we left. Shortly after takeoff, I thankfully knocked out for much of the beginning of the flight, waking up only when I smelled the food cart come by. I may have been a basket case earlier, but there's always room for free food. :)
We finished our teacher interviews on Wednesday afternoon (the day after my drunken flamenco post), which then gave us until we left (Saturday AM) to explore Madrid. Here's a few pictures from the fun we had in the city....
Enjoying my suckling pig meal on Monday night at Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records). And while it was an amazing meal, this was the last meal of pork I had in Spain. When you're offered dried, cured ham 3 meals a day, and it's hanging in every restaurant window you pass by, you tend to develop an aversion to it. I've been home two days, and I'm still on a total pig embargo. I can't stand to look at it, taste it, smell it, or think about it.
Plaza Del Sol...the city center.
The Royal Palace...over 2,000 rooms inside. What a total hole, right?
The Sunday Flea Market...a weekend tradition in Madrid. Notice the outfit I'm wearing...if you can see the stench waves coming off me, it's because it's the same outfit I've been wearing since Friday...our luggage didn't arrive until later that night.
On the bus tour of Madrid...I just thought this was pretty.
The Madrid Botanical Gardens
I know these are just dying tulips, but they looked like they were on fire....
The trumpet man outside the Prado.
The crazy drunk hobo from Plaza Mayor that tried to steal my waffle. What fool thinks it's a good idea to steal food from Jen? THIS dude...who before he came after my waffle, attempted to steal a guy's bottle of champagne (pictured below). And yes, those ARE shoe boxes on his back, held in place by packing tape. And to complete this sexy look, his fly was down too, but I wasn't lucky enough to get it in the shot.
A nun outside KFC. Because you just don't see that every day.
Our Friday trip to Toledo, the medieval walled city....
The streets are so tiny here, I could touch the wall on both sides.
And although ham and I are currently not on speaking terms, my love affair with cheese continues. I had to get a picture of this cheese-filled store window in Toledo.
And finally, the main staple of my trip to Spain...chocolate con churros. The hot chocolate is amazing...it's the consistency of cake batter. Then you dip the fried churros in the chocolate...unreal. I had it as often as I could, at every cafe possible, so that I could become an expert on where the best one was served.
Time for bed, and having sweet dreams of swimming in vats of chocolate con churros. Or nightmares of being chased by pigs. I hope it's not the latter.