El Escorial – 27/2/2015

Fear is such a peculiar feeling for me, perhaps because it differs from person to person (and because I find it fascinating that emotions are by-products of chemical reactions.. so in the movie theatre of my mind, my brain looks like a miniature chemist conducting experiments aka emotions).

There are so many various fears! Some people are scared of being alone, others of losing loved ones, and still there are a great amount of souls that terror in face of spiders or enclosed places. Fear is a colorful spectrum ranging from abstract to factual, from death to heights; it has no boundaries, some explainable and some irrational.

Generally, I hardly find myself fearing many things. Maybe my mini me chemist is out of ingredients.

However, there are moments when I am lovingly embraced by this emotion, and it is normally when I have been in a city for far too long; I am scared of living in the same place while I’m young because the world is so vast and there is so much to experience. And it’s these moments I welcome fear as a teacher, allowing it to push me out of my routine.

Thus my ambition to take a day trip out of Madrid to the beautiful and picturesque El Escorial with a few of my favorite people.

It’s situated northwest of Madrid, about an hour away by bus.

The only word that comes to mind when I think of El Escorial is charming. There were tourists, but mostly we were surrounded by local Spaniards enjoying a Saturday afternoon. It was refreshing to be away from the hustle and bustle of Madrid. Time just seemed to not exist here.

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This statue was one of my favorites. Check the facial expression and sassy hand pose.. had I been alive in his time, we would have definitely been amigos.

So the Royal Palace, which currently serves as a monastery, museum, and school, was constructed under the guide of King Philip II (an attempt at countering Protestantism). He hired an architect by the name of Juan Bautista de Toledo, who was known for his expertise and work on the basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.

However, Juan Bautista died before completion, and so the task was left to his understudy, Juan de Herrera.

So props to both Juans on constructing the Royal Palace (if I remember correctly) in a little over 20 years.

Taking a few pics outside of the Palace.

So the picture above is the huge puerta that allows entrance. Unfortunately, pictures inside aren’t allowed. But…

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I may or may not have taken this picture of the replica of the Royal Palace. Such mysteries will stay in El Escorial, buried with the royal family.

After about 3 hours of looking at art, we went outside to the gardens. They were closing as we got there, so I lack pictures of the landscape.

Exiting the Palace from the opposite side of entrance.

Although I wasn’t able to get many pictures of the garden, I was pleased to find that there was a great view still left to be seen behind the Palace.

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So day trip to El Escorial was a complete success and completely renewed my restless spirit.

On our bus ride back home, Oda and myself were definitely in need of some wine. So before we headed back to the bus stop, we walked around looking for a mercado or alimentacion to buy some cheap wine. While we were crossing the street, an older gentleman stared at me for a long while (obviously because of my good looks).

Actually, as I’ve come to learn, staring is just part of Spanish culture, and what is considered to be rude back home, is simply a normal behavior here. But me being the Texan I am, engaged him in conversation. He turned out to be very pleasant, and helpful! He directed us to a mercado, where we were able to find appetizingly cheap wine (yay ofertas). We waved goodbye, and thanked him many times in his native tongue. I will probably never see him again, but I will always remember him for his generosity. It’s simple acts of kindness like this that keep me going, that keep me hopeful in humanity. Traveling has taught me so much about people. And sometimes I need that reminder.

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