Sunday, January 25, 2009


Wow! So...Madrid, feels like it was a while ago, sorry bout that - I was feeling sick yesterday so I missed classes and starting my job. I am starting to feel better this evening and getting back on track.

Going to Madrid was really fun! The trip was one of our two big overnight trips for the 8 of us arch and design students with the CIEE program. Our resident director for the architecture and design program, Magda, led this trip accompanied by another CIEE staffer, Laura. Magda is extremely nice and helpful and teaches a few of the courses at CIEE. I'm sad I don't get to take any with her! After her tours I was really amazed at how knowleadgeable she is about everything!

If you go to my pictures link there is a new album for Madrid - so check that out for more about the places I'll talk about.

On Friday after we checked into the hotel we went over to the Caixa Forum of Madrid. La Caixa is the second larges bank in Spain, they have Forums all over which serve as exhibit spaces/community center type things - or at least that's what I understood from the Spanish movie! There's one here in BCN that I haven't visited yet, I think we're going there with one of my classes actually. Anyhow, the C. Forum in Madrid had an exhibit on Japanese contemporary art I think, I was really paying more attention to the building. It was done by Herzog & deMeuron so it was pretty jazzy. I really liked the big green wall by the plaza outside, I should find the name of the landscape architect that designed it...

Next was the Matadero Madrid Cultural Center - an old slaughterhouse that's been turned into another exhibition/cultural center space. We came at a great time, they had an exhibit on all diferent kinds of design, really out there architectural ideas, fashion design, graphic design, books, industrial design, furniture design, film installations, etc. All very interesting, we definitely didn't have enough time to do the exhibit justice and were all rather exhausted by then anyway. They did a nice job revamping the building, they tried to keep all of the materials used in some sort of raw state, so lots of exposed joints and unfinished surfaces while still showing the older building in a state of disrepair. Below is a funky little felt purse in one of the exhibits.

Friday evening some of us went to a tapas bar called "El Tigre" where they give you free tapas with your drinks. It was all very tasty and cheap, though pretty crowded. Kaitlin pushed through the crowd and found a nice table at the back so we were able to chill for a couple of hours. After that we tried to get to a discoteca but were rejected because of our shoe choice. A man in a very white suit had to come out to discuss with the bouncers and Richie (a guy we met at El Tigre who worked there) our shoe choice, but we decided to go back to the hotel and get some sleep instead.

Saturday morning was time to go experience chocolate con churros! They were pretty tasty, though I can't believe that is actually considered breakfast. It's way too greasy and the chocolate too much to ever really eat. Fun though!

Saturday afternoon was a guided tour of Old Madrid, walking down the streets of the old walls from the Moors and then the Christians. It was interesting hearing about all of the different people that had been there over time, crazy to think that there could be so much history in one spot! Kind of sad also that so little was left of anything medieval. I liked all of the pretty tiled street signs.

After a wonderful lunch at a Mexican place (I miss spicy food so much!) we went to the Reina Sofia Museum. It's an old hospital that was turned into a museum. We got to see Guernica by Picasso, I hadn't really heard much about the painting. Getting to see it actually in Spain and hear about all of the crazy and terrible stuff going on around it was pretty amazing, Magda did a very good job of explaining it. Also, some of the Dali stuff was really interesting to see, especially with Magda's explanation about his life and the significance of different things in the painting. This weekend we're going on a day trip to Figueras to see the Dali museum that he designed, seeing more of his stuff will be interesting! He was such a weirdo.

Sunday morning we went to the Prado Museum, got to see some cool stuff by El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya. Our guide had some interesting info about all of the royal portraits they were doing and how that relates to Spanish history, etc. so that plus the fact that these were the kinds of things you see in art history books made it pretty sweet. It's odd walking into a room and recognizing something that you remember learning about in some class and thinking it should have some significance. Then you have to listen to the guide and you figure it out and then get to be awed again, this time actually at what made the painting famous in the first place! So now that I've thoroughly exposed my lack of knowledge about art... I think Goya was my favorite, his dark stuff is so insanely full of emotion, it's really pretty disturbing.

After that, it was back to the airport and home to Barcelona! It was good to be back on familiar ground, learning a new metro system and not having the sea and mountains to orient yourself was a pain. The people were nicer and more friendly in general though. We picked a good weekend to go away. Barcelona was very windy while we were gone, thankfully we avoided the accidents that happened here. Time for bed now! Updates on classes, internship and more pending.

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