Time for my final installment on our trip to central Spain, as well as a short update on what's been going on here at ESDES. 

After leaving Segovia, we piled into the bus for a few stops before we actually arrived in Madrid. ESDES does a really good job of using every minute of our time spent traveling while still allowing us free time, but sometimes it's just too cozy on the bus to want to get out and see yet another rich person's castle. Our next stop was the Granja, another palace outside of Madrid with lots of over-the-top furnishings and super-intense NO FOTO rules. As usual, my favorite part was the light fixtures and I was quite disappointed that I couldn't take photos of the flowery chandeliers that hung in several rooms. Our guide was not particularly lively and seemed to hurry us through with a separate guard behind us because heaven forbid someone sneak a their iPhone out. 

They allowed us an hour to roam the gardens which was a bit excessive considering it was a blustery day and nothing was blooming. However, instead of sulking around, my friend Beth and I went for a stroll and enjoyed some time talking and reflecting on the year that's almost behind us, and the unknowns of Life After Spain. I'm so glad we had that time together and I appreciate Beth so much for her maturity and encouragement she always gives me. Plus, she gave me this great blog title and I wanted to give her credit! For those of you that don't know, Real Madrid is the fútbol (soccer) team of Madrid and, depending on who you are a fan of, Spain. Since I know a fair portion of my readers are my family and we know nothing about these athletic events called sports, I thought it could use a little explanation. Also it's pronounced "RAY-al" meaning "royal" as opposed to "real." Ok, I think you get the idea.

At last we arrived at our hotel in Madrid where Rachel and I shared a room with our friend Sara. We lucked out on this trip getting corner rooms with more space, and the tree of us settled in and then met with friends to find food. I ended up with a group that headed out in search of Taco Bell, one of three in Madrid but the only three in Spain. Personally, I miss lots of other food more that TB, but I do miss its prices, free refills, and most importantly, ice. We used the metro and arrived in no time. Walking in, it smelled like home, which is when I started getting excited. The regular "bean burrito" was a bit different than what I'm used to, but it was good and only a euro, so I splurged on a drink which I could fill with as much ice and coke as I wanted. We stopped at a gelato shop after, and, caving to peer pressure, I got a small cup of chocolate and café. 

Back at the hotel, we chicas were getting a little chilly in our room so one of us who will remain unnamed decided to turn up the thermostat (hint: it wasn't me!). Still not knowing anything of the centigrade system, we had a good laugh the next morning when we woke up to a sauna and a room at 30 C (that's 86º F). We told Cristian that dormimos en los trópicos anoche! He told us that appropriate temperature for indoors was about 23 and we decided to try that the next night.

The next day the bus drove us about an hour away where we went to the Valle de los Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen), a memorial to those who died in the Spanish Civil War. Here there is a huge basilica carved into the side of a mountain. It's actually larger than the one at the Vatican, but only part of it has been consecrated to avoid conflict. There's also a huge cross that can be seen from miles away. Driving up reminded me a lot of being at a national park in the States and the scenery of the Black Hills of South Dakota. We spent an hour or so looking around and then boarded the bus to go to an Escorial Monastery. 

The Escorial was extremely cold inside with all-stone floors and, of course, no space heaters. I don't know how anyone could stand being in such cold, empty palaces so long ago with no means of keeping warm. We saw the sepulcras of many royal family members below the Escorial. They told us a little more than I wanted to know about exactly what remains get stored in the chamber, and with that we continued above ground for the rest of our chilly tour. 

Once again, that night we had more Adventures in Temperature. Cristian came in for room check and as he left we asked him to set the thermostat at a comfortable 23 centigrade. Ryan left to go to bed shortly after and we asked him to check that we were at the right temperature, and then the three of us rolled over and went to sleep. Thanks to some trickster (I'm still not sure which one it was!) we spent the night in a 16 centigrade room (that's 60º F). So from one night to the next we went from the tropics to the icecaps and back to Spain again. By the time we got the silly system figured out, we came back to ESDES where we don't actually have air-conditioning and our heaters have been turned off for the season. Luckily the weather has been extremely pleasant and sleeping with the doors open has kept us quite comfortable. 

Sabbath was a day almost free of activities; we only had church in the morning and an optional tour of the city that evening. I headed to the park with Seth, Jon, and Justin to do a little slacklining (more on this later!) and went to Wok to Walk for dinner that night with Justin and Shannon. We arrived back at ESDES Sunday evening and had Monday to recuperate and finish our journals. Now here we are with only seven weeks and couting and a monton of homework. But no pasa nada, I'm determined to finish it all AND enjoy these last weeks in this lovely place. 
Sheri Seibold
4/21/2013 09:04:06 am

Shelby, you are so the acorn that fell from this oak. I'm totally getting your TB appreciation of ice rather than food, and thanks for the explanation of the sports team in Spain, ha ha. Great title, as I now know the sports connection. love ya goo, mom

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