Tuesday, July 31, 2012

El Escorial

This is Nick! Jamie decided that I should contribute to the blogs, so here I am. Isn't she swell?! 

On Tuesday the 31st it turned out that I didn't have to go in to work (my morning assignments having been indefinitely postponed due to August vacation and my afternoon assignments having been indefinitely postponed due to... well, August vacation) and we decided to take advantage of the free day and try to make it to El Escorial again. This time we had success! (The first time we tried we learned that the train wasn't working from a certain train station and so we went to Aranjuez instead.) 

Some interesting tidbits on El Escorial, from Wikipedia:
The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial... It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.
A short bus ride (45 minutes? An hour?) had us there in no time. The tiny city that is home to the huge building sits halfway up a mountainside, which affords a great view of the valley and the surrounding areas including a lake and lots of pine trees. As soon as we arrived we headed straight for the El Escorial, which is where we spent most of our day. 

View from the entrance side

Andrew showing off his new fighting moves at the entrance to the monastary

View of some towers from one of the inside courtyards
A courtyard garden and the valley in the background
More gardens on the other side of the building, and some of the mountains
A view of the entrance to the basilica from a courtyard.
This thing was HUGE (Jamie's in one of the archways)
While Jamie took a look inside the cathedral, the kids and I hid from her in the courtyard.
This was when we spotted her finally exiting the building!

Just gorgeous!

This was just the cover of a magazine that I liked and decided to drop it in here

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos of the interior which is a shame because we saw some gorgeous wood inlay doors and an incredible underground, marble and gold round room that holds the remains of several monarchs called "Panteon de Reyes."

After the self-guided tour we grabbed a bite to eat at a forgettable restaurant
that was fortunately located right next to this pretty little plaza.

And look at that, there's a geocache 375 feet away from our lunch!
Thank goodness for free city-wide Wi-fi! 

A street. Wow.

Aaaand that's a wrap.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Saturday we planed on going to El Escorial, but when we got to the train station we found out that they were working in the tunnel and we wouldn't be able to go (at least from there) for another week. We looked up at the departing trains and saw that in 4 minutes there was a train leaving for Aranjuez, I was pretty sure I saw something about that place in our travel book so we jumped on the train.  Thankfully we had brought our Spain book with us, so while we were on our way we quickly read up on the town.
It was a short 45 minute trip on the commuter rail (you can't beat $3 train tickets) and it was pretty country side so the ride went by quickly. When we arrived we decided against taking the bus into town and walk. I'm happy we did, the streets were lined with tress and there was a nice breeze which made it a really pleasant walk (plus Sadie fell asleep, which is always a huge plus).

**In 1178, the area was acquired by Ferdinand and Isabella, they converted Aranjuez into a royal site.

The palace (built in the 1500's) is the first thing you see as you walk into the town. It is known as the Spanish version of Versailles, although I'm sure it is not half as big. But it is beautiful, and we probably could've spent all day walking the gardens had Andrew not been asking for food the whole time. We didn't make it inside the palace because every time we'd get close to the entrance Andrew would protest.
It sure is different traveling with toddlers, although you don't see as much of the actual "sights" as far as going into every museum and into every place in the guide book, I feel that you experience more of the everyday life and really are able to get a feel for a place that you can't get from the tourist sights.

We then had a fabulous lunch at a place just off the river where the waiter gave the kids bread to feed to ducks right from our table.

After lunch we made it onto the "big white train" as Andrew called it (even though it was quite small). It takes you for a tour of the city while telling you about the different sites. It was nice but a bit on the long side for me. We ended the day with getting some of the towns yummy strawberries to bring home with us.

It was such a great day, nice and relaxing while still getting to see a lot of sights.

He was loving having open space to run around!

They are having a rock throwing contest

Add caption

*photo by Andrew

*photo by Andrew

Trying so hard to stay awake

He lost the battle
I couldn't handle this. It seriously looked like he was dead.

Plaza Mayor


The Teleferico is a tram/cable car that takes you up and over the city of Madrid and into the Casa De Campo, a park of over 4200 acres west of Madrid.The Cable Car speaks to you as you travel through the air, pointing out interesting views or giving a quick history of monuments visible from the car.

The kids loved it.

*Most of the pictures are courtesy of Andrew

(Unsuccessful) geocache hunting

On our walk to the playground Andrew ran ahead, and when I caught up to him this is how I found him... peeing.