El Escorial

Madrid Travel Blog

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Today I woke up a little later, about 9:00. I went downstairs and had the same breakfast as yesterday. I met a man from Georgia who had just found a job in Madrid teaching English. We talked for a while. He had lived in Mexico for four years and said that Cuernavaca is as beautiful as I've been told. Today I heard from Nadine (the Mexican family) who would like to speak to me on the phone and then will finalize the arrangement.
After breakfast I went to my room to get ready. I decided to head to El Escorial, a monastery which houses the Basilica. It is an hour train ride from Atocha Renfre.
I found the train with no problem although I had a lot of trouble buying a ticket. The machines did not take my credit cards and I did not have small bills so I had to stand in line and missed the train that was at the station then. The next one came in about 20 or 30 minutes and it was really a blessing I missed the first one because two guys from my hostel ended up in the same car as me. After some awkward looks, like "are you really the person from the hostel?" we started to talk. They are from Belgium and traveling for a few days vacation. I ended up spending the whole day with them and it was great because the town was a little hard to navigate and I would not have had as good a time by myself.
When we got off the train we were a bit confused but we finally figured out we had to take a bus up to the monastery.
When we got off the bus we didn't know where to go as the signs were not very clear. We found a nice plaza and sat outside and enjoyed two cups of cafe con leche! Yum....I don't even know how Americans stomach our watered down version of coffee. It was a beautiful day outside and we sat and shared stories about our countries and such. It was very relaxing and also interesting to talk to someone from a place I know nothing about.
After coffee we tried to find a place ot buy food but we unable as everything closes at odd times in Spain. (I'm about to butcher spelling but his name was prounounced Yan) Jan had some cheese so we ate that and headed into the monastery.
El Escorial is very large. It houses many paintings from the kings' collections. Many of them are very beautiful but all are religious and without Johannes explaining about the painters and such I would not have enjoyed them as much.
It was nice to be able to share it with someone. We weren't sure if we would be able to go to the Basilica because there was a part that was blocked off to us since we hadn't bought the guided tour. However, we got there and it was beautiful. The ceilings are painted and there are paintings everywhere. I couldn't imagine attending church there.
The tour took a couple hours and by then we were starving so we headed to a cervezaria I had a Manchego cheese sandwich. It is the cheese I liked from my professors house. It was three euros for a half sandwich filled with yummy cheese. We shared a bottle of red wine which was also very good. At ten something we headed back to the bus that took us back to the train station. The next train was not coming for another our (the last train). We probably should have planned the return ahead of time but it's ok (which I learned today came from war when they had 0 kills). We went to the bar right outside the station and had some beer. It was good, though I don't know what it was. They gave us free fried anchovies and little empanadas with some sort of tomatoe-y fish sauce maybe. They were both very good.
We got back around 11:30 and I took a shower and came downstairs to charge up my computer and write this. So that was my day.
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415 km (258 miles) traveled
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photo by: vulindlela