We flew out of CPT international on September 5th after staying the night with the infamous Justin Hawkins. Of all visits with Justin this was the most mellow. We arrived, hung out for a little, went out to a casual dinner at a wonderfully delicious Thai restaurant, and fell asleep watching the paraolympics. Which by the way were amazing if you did not get a chance to watch them. Watching a one-half armed man beat everyone in the 100 meter freestyle was badass.
Unfortunately this trip was not on business class, like our flight to CPT. Since we had to purchase one of the flights, as we did not have enough frequent flyer miles to pay for them all, we flew on Turkish airlines with an 8-hour layover in Istanbul. We had hoped to be able to check out Istanbul during our layover but after our hellish hot and uncomfortable flight, all we could do was sleep on the benches in the halls of the airport. Though Turkish airlines has free tours of Istanbul if you have a long layover, the tours do not start until 9am and end at 3pm. We arrived in Istanbul at 6am and left at 2pm. :(
Though the temperature on the flight to Madrid was cooler, there were no private monitors for movie watching. They were showing Snow White and the Huntsman, which we both really wanted to see, but we were seated directly below the monitor and could not see the movie at all....ipad to the rescue! We watched a few episodes of Forbrydelsen (The Killing), a show that Colin and Jen turned us onto.
We arrived in Madrid with no problems. We received a new visa upon entry and BOOM, we were admitted for three more months to the EU. Two minutes after our exit, Erin and Matt arrived and off we went to navigate through the metros of Madrid to their amazing flat.
They live in the western portion of Madrid, between Arguelles, Moncloa and Islas Filipinas (three different metro stops). You can get to anywhere in Madrid pretty easily; it usually takes 10-20 minutes to any part of the city. We laid pretty low during our first few days there, as we were tired from traveling and climbing in SA. We then began to get back into our groove; however, as Erin noticed, my groove is getting slower and slower as I get more and more pregnant. I am not quite as motivated as I usually am. Though my energy level is supposed to be back to normal, carrying the extra weight and sleeping a bit more fitfully is definitely sapping my energy.
After a few days of rest, we began to actually see the sites of Madrid. We got our museum fix on; we visited the Prado twice, the Reina Sofia, the Thyssen for a special Hopper exhibit and the monastery in el Escorial de San Lorenzo.
Of course food is a huge part of Spanish culture, with lunch being the most important meal of the day. Most of the days we cooked, well, most days Matt cooked, but we also went out for some meals. Matt is becoming quite the Spanish cook; his tortilla con patatas is amazing, as well as his preparation of sea bass and liver; we definitely enjoyed the food in Spain. Mid-way through our stay, we were invited to have dinner with Fernando, Erin and Matt's landlord. Fernando is Claudia's father, a good friend of Erin's who I climbed with last time I visited Madrid with Frederique. Fernando is a professor in Barcelona but also has a couple of apartments in Madrid, which he still considers his home. He is also an amazing cook. He made us a chilled soup, similar to Gazpacho but a little tangier, a hake dish with baked egg on top, as well a black sausage with a tasty green sauce (can't remember the ingredients). For dessert, we had whole cream and peaches. The evening's conversation revolved around American politics, the election and the media that presents it.
Our time with Matt and Erin was relaxing and exciting. We did more than eat and visit museums however. Stay tuned! -Corinne