Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bye Bye Madrid!

 Our last few days in Madrid were spent doing some last minute shopping, visiting our favorite parks, saying bye to friends, eating yummy tapas and finally (for me) going to the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony (or Goya's church as I like to call it)

This little chapel is where Goya is buried. It is one of my favorite things I saw while in Madrid. Even though it is tiny the art work inside (by Goya) is beautiful and so tasteful.  In most of the churches we've been to here although they are amazing either because of the size, age or detail this is so different, I loved it and am glad I was finally able to see it.

Here are our friends Stephanie, Silvia and Kieran

This is the elevator to our apartment, I had to get a picture of the kids in it because they were obsessed with it the whole time. This is for sure the thing that they'll miss most  about Madrid.
Here are some things that Nick and I will miss from Madrid:

The Milk- so much better than in the states.
so good and cheap


need I say more?

Random accordion players on the metro, I will also miss hearing the man playing the violin outside the palace while we're playing at the park.

Old women pinching the kids cheeks and tousling the kids hair

Everyone loving the kids/ and always trying to help me with them

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bull Fights!!!

Jamie: I am a little horrified that I went to a Bull fight but we figured that since we were in Spain we should take in all the experiences we could. All I can say is that I felt so sad, not only the bull but also the horses. The poor horses are blind folded and later I found out have had their vocal cords cut so they can't scream, at least they have armor on...

Nick: We decided that in order to get our full Spain experience we would have to go see a bullfight. The decision to go wasn't necessarily a hard one to make - neither Jamie or I are animal rights activists or anything of the sort. But we weren't exactly super excited to go see one, either, just due to the nature of the thing. But as we left the kids with a babysitter (a friend that Jamie had made via the Facebook group "Americanas en Madrid". Sadie was kind enough to vomit on the living room floor just as we were about to leave, but that's another story), we ound ourselves eager (to get the heck away from the kids for a night) and very interested (in what we were about to experience).

When we bought the tickets I had to ask the guy what kind of clothing people wore to these things. I had no idea! (Apparently its very casual, FYI.)

The building that the bullfight takes place in is very impressive, and we tried to get a few shots of it. After getting ripped off by an old lady hawking some treats (I think we paid €12 for a few handfulls of crappy, stale candy. Seriously) we made our way in and discovered that our seats, while smack in the middle of the sunny section (it was probably close to 90℉ or so that afternoon), were about as close as you could get as a normal oberver. This gave us a very good view of the spectacle that we were about to behold.

The whole bullfight thing was completely new to us, although apparently I knew a little more than Jamie did (she didn't know that the bull was actually killed in the fight until we had sat down). Here's some of what we learned:

A bullfight consists of:

-multiple bullfights ("corridas"). This means that you watch one bull fight a matador ("torero" more approprately) and his team, and when that bull dies they "reset" the ring and do it again with another bull and another torero and team, etc. If I remember correctly we saw maybe 6 bulls that night, shared among 3 toreros.

-Each corrida has specific stages. After the bull is released into the arena, maybe 4 members of the team take turns making the bull angry by waving the cape thing ("capote") and dodging it, frequently running behind a thick wooden wall that protects them from the bull.

The next stage involves two men ("picadores") with lances, mounted on armored horses. The bull charges the horse and as it is busy trying to bowl the horse over (which did happen once!) the picador thrusts his lance at the bulls neck and back.

The following stage is quick and involves three teammates ("banderilleros") taking their turns at stabbing arm-length spikes ("banderillas") into the bull's shoulders. These are the colorful things that you usually see hanging from the back of the bull if you've ever seen photos of bullfights. These men have to dodge the bull usually as it runs towards them, jumping out of the way and stabbing the bull at the same time.

The last stage is the bull and the torero, one on one. To me this seemed the most symbolic stage, the most prideful - it seemed like it was a display of "man over nature." It was during this stage when you really get to notice the difference between the toreros - which ones are good, which ones are new, which ones are more graceful or more brave. The dance between the bull and the torero was really quite exciting and the exchange between the best torero and the most lively bull (you learn that each bull has its own personality) was quite spectacular. In probably 4 of the 6 corridas the bull actually managed to topple the torero, in which case the other teammates rushed to his aid and drew the bull's attention away from the downed torero until he could stand and regain his composure. On his first appearance of the evening, the youngest torero took a very hard hit that knocked him to the ground and during the short scuffle that ensued before the bull could be drawn away, the torero's buttocks were exposed (much to the ladies' delight!) after the bull managed to tear off part of his pants. Impressively, the torero took it like a man and finished the fight with one cheek almost completely exposed.

The abrupt end of the match, with the torero ending the bull's life with (ideally) one perfectly placed thrust of the sword through the bull's shoulderblades, down to the hilt of the sword and presumably into the bull's heart, almost ruined the experience when juxtaposed with the beautiful choreography of the bull versus the torero. The good torero could kill a bull with one thrust (which had the crowd on its feet and waving white handkerchiefs as a sign of praise), but the youngest torero took half a dozen, maybe ten attempts until the bull fell. This last part was almost always very gruesome, as blood would start to pour out of the bull's mouth in large amounts and if not felled quickly, the bull would begin to sway and stumble until finally falling to its knees and eventually dying. On one occasion the sword thrust was placed so well that the bull just stopped in its tracks and fell over dead, almost cartoon-like.

After the bull died a team of horses was brought out and the bull was hooked up to it and dragged back through the gates, often leaving a dark trail of blood on the bullring floor that was swept up by another member of the team.

Jamie had to look away several times during the whole production, and I almost had to a couple of times. The crowd appeard to be mostly foreigners, although there were several audience members that seemed like season ticket holders. All in all we were glad that we went but we definitely do not feel the need to go see another bullfight again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homeless Sadie

This summer Sadie has developed a new love for park benches, door frames, side walks and metro station stairs. It is usually cute and sometimes disgusting but it happens so frequently that I have made an album in iphoto dedicated to this, it's called Homeless Sadie. I thought that I'd share some of the best captured moments.

Spainish Architecture

Here our some of our favorite shots of the architecture we've seen while we've been here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Sunday we woke up in Seville to Sadie with a fever.  Our tickets coming home were full price so even though our train back to Madrid wasn't until 7:30 we had the option of going on any train as long as it wasn't full, so we decided to go ahead to Cordoba and play the day by ear.

Poor baby was a trooper and did great although we ended up taking the 4pm train home. I love Cordoba. Not only was it so pretty but it was probably a good 20 degrees cooler than Seville which made a huge difference.

We walked around town, went to the Alcazar (the highlight of this was definitely the gardens), and the Mezquita which was amazing.

Old Roman bridge. We were confused for a second but if you look over the side you can see the old bridge, this is built right on top.


Andrew directing me where to stand for his picture.

Another Andrew shot

These kids would have been happy to stay all day watching the water go from pool to pool. 

Avenue of the flowers

The kids laying on the floor of the Mezquita to get a better view of the ceiling.

Another shot by Andrew

A Cathedral built in the center of a Mosque, they have held mass here everyday since 1275

This is in the court yard of the Mezquita, the beams hanging on the wall are the originals from the ceiling. they had to renovate it in the late 90's. The craved detail on the the wood is beautiful.