Sunday, May 6, 2007
March 18, 2007
Last night I couldn't sleep, so I laid in bed reading out of two different books and completing the crossword puzzles in the back of two People magazines until 3 in the morning. I told my mom to wake me up at 8:30 because Sheri was supposed to be at our hotel at 9:30. She didn't show up until 11, so I took advantage of her procrastination and got an extra 90 minutes of rest.
We went to el Rastro, the huge Sunday morning flea market. When I lived there three years ago I bought myself peacock feather earrings, a giant poster of flamenco dancers, and a suitcase to bring all my accumulated European treasures back home. This time around all I could think about was leaving. It was unbearably crowded, and this older man with a giant lens on his camera kept turning around and taking pictures of my face. I think he thought he was being sneaky, but it's hard not to notice something like that. My sister got mad when I pointed him out, took my camera out of my hands, made sure the man was looking at us and took pictures of his face, the whole time with a defiant look in her eye.
Here he is:
And here is one of my favorite photos from the trip. I'm not sure if all pictures are worth 1,000 words, but I am sure that this one could provoke quite a conversation:
No one bought anything at this time. I think we were all anxious to get away from there. We hopped on the Metro and got off at the Bilbao to go to lunch. We went to Isla Del Tesoro, my favorite restaurant when I lived in Madrid. I approached the huge glass door cautiously this time, careful to not smack my face into it like I did almost exactly three years ago to the day. The bulls eye they put up a week after my accident was still there, although the red, white and blue cocentric circles had faded, and the thing as a whole looked rather weathered. It was still at the height of my nose. I guess I haven't grown.
[if you want to read the story of the mis-hap and see the original bulls eye, click here]
The food was just as good as I remembered, especially the bowl of chickpeas drenched in a thick, creamy garlic sauce. While we awaited our main courses, I borrowed Sheri's phone and went out on the street to call Maria Luisa, my Señora I used to live with. I had to psych myself up as the phone rang, preparing myself to not fully understand everything she was going to say to me in Spanish. At first she kept saying, "Quien??" I wasn't sure what else to answer besides my name, and my use of Spanish in the past tense isn't great, but eventually she figured it out when I explained that I used to live with her. "Oh bonita!" she exclaimed. She continued to tell me that she had a really busy week coming up and to call her in a few days to make a definite plan. "Bueno. Hasta luego."
Post-lunch activity: trip to the Thyssen museum. One of my collarbones itched, right on the bone that juts out. "Ew!" my sister exclaimed. "There's a big white spot right where you're itching! That's so gross!" As I sat on a bench outside of the museum's entrance debating whether I wanted to go in, I took digital snapshots of my collarbone and then in playback mode zoomed into the white spot so that it took up the whole screen. That was a bad idea. Then I got paranoid that I was housing bugs inside me and had unbearable flashbacks of when I contracted Chiggers and my Señora thought her house was infested with fleas because of me.
I tried to ignore the bite and decided to join my family in the Thyssen, even though it didn't rate as one of my favorite places when I was here last. We saw the special exhibit: "The mirror & the mask: Portraiture in the age of Picasso," then we all went to the third floor to start checking out the permanent exhibits. Ok, I understand that religious art was pretty much the beginning of art, but I can only look at so many bloody Jesus-es before I start rolling my eyes completely uninterested and just plow through rooms like there's nothing on the walls. Which is exactly what I did. I saw all of this three years ago, and I still didn't like it. Second floor, impressionism and cubism...getting better. The ground floor, though, made the re-visit worthwhile. 20th century contemporary art. Still some of my favorite pieces to date.
My family couldn't believe how quickly I plowed through the entire museum, when they found me sitting on a bench in the lobby writing in my notebook. I told them I was exhausted, plus I'd been there before, so it was nothing new.
As we walked back to the hotel, I thought, This just isn't as exciting...maybe because I feel like I've seen everything already so it just seems as though I'm in any urban setting..and people just happen to speak Spanish.
We all took a nap before dinner. Then we met Sheri's best friend and roommate abroad, Stevie, as well as their new friend, Ashley, at an Italian restaurant. I ordered "vegetarian mash" pizza, which came with a runny egg oozing on top. Mmmm....not. Their version of sangria, which I got both my parents hooked on, was disappointing. All oranges, no other exciting fruits.
On our retreat back to the hotel, I tried calling Lindsay back home to wish her a happy 24th birthday, but the stupid pay phone cut me out right as I was about to leave a message. One Euro down the drain. "It's the thought that counts," my mom told me as I slammed down the receiver. But I'm usually not satisfied with just thoughts.