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2May
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 4:40

Downtown Madrid

Downtown Madrid
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2006-04-30 19:59:21
Exposure
1/250
Aperture
f/11.0
ISO
200

A church in Madrid located near the famous Prado Museum. I don't know the name of the church.

On Sunday, Nenad, Dima and I ventured out from the comfort and safety of the residence building to go to Madrid. The goal was to take a look at the Prado Museum we had heard so much about and if time permitted, wander around the city a bit. Of course, like most days, it was a slow start and we didn't leave until after 17:00. After spending around 40 minutes on the subway, we emerged into the heart of Madrid.

It was here at the metro station where we ran into a tourist from London who was trying to find the museum as well so she joined us for the short walk from the station to the entrance of the museum. She must have been on a much more hurried time table than we were because she made her way through the museum much quicker than we did. Apparently Nenad is a bit of an art buff and so we spent a great deal of time going through the museum — it's a big place. We didn't finish in the 2 hours we were there. But I did get about one hundred photos of paintings or Nenad standing by paintings. At some point in the future we will have to go back and view the other floor we didn't see.

After the museum we emerged onto the streets of Madrid at about 20:00 and still had a bit of time before we had to head back if we wanted to catch dinner. So we went to Parque de Resito which is quite large (1.4 km2) and enjoyed the sunset there for a while. While there, we came across and event which I think is best described as a hippy rave. If any of you are familiar with the second Matrix movie and that scene in Zion with the dancing, then it was something like that, but on a smaller scale. At this point it was getting late so we started heading back to the subway station.

However, at this point, the subway was pretty busy — not the station we entered, but the next train that arrived was. It was full — too full. But the three of us crammed in anyway. Long story short, when I got off the train, I noticed that I was a bit lighter, or more to the point my cellphone was missing from my pocket. Also missing was my brochure from the museum, but that isn't as important. Fortunately, my wallet and passport were safely tucked away because I was expecting pickpockets, but I neglected to consider my cellphone because I use it so rarely that I don't even realize that I have it. I blame most of this on the crappy small front pockets that my shorts have and also clearly on pure carelessness on my part. Fortunately, the thieves didn't get much, my phone was many years old and the battery wasn't great and it had a broken face plate — unfortunately the phone wasn't really mine. Val and Terry, I don't think I'll be able to return that Nokia. :/

Despite ending on a bit of a low note, the evening was very nice.

2May
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 16:24

Bull Fight

Bull Fight
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2006-05-02 19:38:23
Exposure
1/200
Aperture
f/10.0
ISO
400

Bullfighter engaging the bull with a capote.

On Monday (May 1), when a few of us from residence here got together in Nenad's room, Daniel mentioned that there would be a bull fight the next day, but he didn't have many details. Nenad and I decided that it was something that we needed to do at least once in Spain, so we would go regardless of price.

The next day arrived and we didn't hear anything from Daniel or anyone about the fight. We met Q at lunch and he said that the others were in Madrid and we would meet them. We still didn't know exactly when or where — two critical factors needed to meet someone. So to keep this story moving, Daniel, Pablo and Marco (a friend of ours from Italy) returned and we had about 3 minutes to get ready to make it to the bullfight which started at 19:00. We took the subway into Madrid and emerged at the station which is right in front of the Plaza De Toros De Las Ventas. And that is when the scalpers swarmed. Apparently we were too late for the box office, and these scalpers (who by the looks of it did this for a living) were quick to “come to the rescue”. So we spent 10€ each on tickets that would have cost 4€ otherwise, but hey we were late and I had been expecting to pay 25€ anyway.

Of course, tickets normally that cheap mean the nose-bleed section — and they were — at the very top. But we could see the action, and that was the main thing. Thankfully when taking 8MP photos even distant objects can show up fairly clear and I took about 100 photos of the bull fight. The thing about Spanish bullfighting (as opposed to Latin American or other European countries) is that at the end of the fight, the bull is killed. In essence that is the entire point of the match. I wasn't aware of this until on the way to the fight, since the bullfighting I'm more familiar with is the Latin American version where the bull isn't killed. Personally I don't condone the public killing of animals even if that is what they were raised for. But when in Spain. Apparently the 20,000 in attendance felt differently about that notion than I do. And while it was a necessary experience it really wasn't terribly spectacular and I most likely won't be going again.

Afterwards we swarmed out with the masses and into the plaza in front of the bull ring. Instead of going back into a packed subway (I've done that.) we strolled up the street to take in a bit of the sights of Madrid. Considering it was getting to be close to dinner time, we were starting to get hungry. Nenad had wanted to return to residence for dinner, but the rest of us, who included two people who didn't live in residence wanted to eat somewhere in Madrid. So as we walked we eventually came across a Museo del Jamon (lit. Ham Museum). This is a restaurant/food chain in Madrid that specializes in — surprise — ham and related products. So we sat down and ordered various sandwiches — I had a bacon and cheese sandwich — along with a couple plates of patates bravas. Dinner was a pleasant affair and after we paid we wandered back out into the street. At this point it was dark out and as we continues down the street Daniel and I took a few photos of lit structures. Then we came to another plaza near the Centro Colon where a very huge Spanish flag was flying over some other exotic looking stone structures. We spent the better part of an hour wandering around taking photos of each other. After our photo taking episode we stopped for ice cream (some of us) at a Häagen-Dazs store and continued on towards the subway. We were heading for a station on the number 10 line that takes us straight to the MetroSur line (12) which is where we live.

By the time we got home it was well after midnight, but it was a good night — a very successful trip.

6May
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 6:35

Tengo veinticuatro años

Tengo veinticuatro años
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2006-05-09 22:45:35
Exposure
1/60
Aperture
f/4.5
ISO
1600

My birthday gift from T.G.I.Fridays — some sort of chocolate mousse cake.

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was certainly a unique one for me. This is the first birthday I've celebrated outside of Canada, and the first one to celebrate without my family present in some capacity. However, given those adjustments it was still a very good birthday. For starters it was probably the warmest birthday that I've ever had — coming in at around 28°C during the heat of the day. It's even warmer today, but I've already whined about the heat here. But despite being over 4800 kilometers from home, I was still able to celebrate.

The day started normally enough: breakfast, school, lunch, school. But after returning home for the day, Daniel and I joined Nenad in his room (because, among other reasons, it is cooler) to try to decide where we/I wanted to go to dinner. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a student's budget, we decided to head to CGrand Via in Madrid where there were many restaurants. We knew that there was a T.G.I.Fridays there and we had that in our mind as our destination. We planned to leave around 20:00 and each went our separate way.

Shortly before 20:00, I was ready and went down to the lobby of the building and sat in one of the wing-back armchairs down there. In no real rush, I waited until the others were ready. Thanks to a load of laundry in the dryer belonging to Daniel, that ended up being closer to 21:00. So at that point, Nenad, Daniel, Pablo and I took the metro into Madrid and getting off at the Plaza de España, found that T.G.I.Fridays was right there. Dinner was great — a nice break from the residence food, and except for a little misunderstanding about how cooked Nenad's hamburger should be, everything went off without a hitch.

However, at this point while we were contemplating dessert, the staff snuck up behind me and start popping balloons — startling me, and most of the others as well. They brought out the dessert pictured above and then got me to stand on my chair and be led through some sort of birthday dance that Pablo and Daniel tell me is from Latin America. Later, no one would admit to telling them it was my birthday, but I have my suspicions that it was someone whose name rhymes with hablo. At least I didn't have to wear an oversized Viking hat this year.

After dinner, we walked about in Madrid for a while — until just after midnight and then headed back to the residence. It was a beautiful warm evening — the perfect ending to a very different, yet very enjoyable birthday. To everyone who wished me well yesterday thank you very much. Muchas gracias!

10May
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 13:55

Lightning

Lightning
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2006-05-11 23:43:56
Exposure
9/1
Aperture
f/29.0
ISO
1600

One of several bolts of lightning that crossed the night sky outside my room.

I love lightning. I'm not nutty about it like going out into fields during thunderstorms, but I really enjoy the visual spectacle of it as well as the energy that it adds to the air. There is nothing quite as electrifying (sorry) as when the pressure drops quickly and a quick storm rolls in. This is what happened earlier today shortly after Nenad, Nebojša and I arrived back at the residence around 19:00. It rained really hard for a while and you could see lightning and hear the thunder for a while. Then the rain stopped, but the lightning is still going on now after midnight. I was sitting here reading on my computer and thought, I bet I can get some shots of this lightning. So that is why I am currently sitting in the complete darkness (I love a backlit keyboard) with my camera on a tripod pointed out my open window. When I first started, I managed to capture about 6 bolts out of 30 pictures, but now the frequency had decreased and the lightning also seems to have moved over the horizon, so I still see flashes, but I don't really see any more bolts. But I got some good ones, which is nice. Enjoy.

11May
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 18:36

Gardens and more

Gardens and more
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2006-05-14 18:39:48
Exposure
1/100
Aperture
f/5.0
ISO
100

Flower in the botanical garden in Madrid.

This past weekend (which just ended for us) was our last long weekend of the term. I guess that we have been pretty spoiled with respect to days off so far this term, but I'm not complaining. One thing that I am excited about is the fact that the air conditioning is finally being turned on in the residence today. And about time, with temperatures reaching 40°C this weekend, it was getting pretty desperate.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. On Sunday we pried ourselves out into the heat — Daniel, Dima, Nenad, Nebojša and I and headed into Madrid. It was Nebojša's last day in Spain and we had a few more items to tick off the list. Nenad wanted to go back and finish up at the Prado Museum and then they planned to catch a bull fight. So after a bit of time at the museum, we split into two groups with Dima and I staying at the museum and the others going to see if they could get tickets for the bull fight. Having had quite enough of the museum, Dima and I decided to head to the Botanical Gardens of Madrid which happen to be right behind the museum. Our student cards got us in for only 1€.

Inside it is a bit like the Public Gardens in Halifax (for those who know it) only a lot bigger with a larger diversity of plant life. While the Public Gardens are designed to be visually appealing — and they are, this garden is like a botanist's wet dream. In addition to the large plot of outdoor land with a large number of flower, tree and other plant species, there is a climate controlled building that contains several separate bio-habitats ranging from desert to jungle. I must say that it was all pretty cool and while I'm not especially into the botany or biology of it, I am into unusual and unique subject matter for photographs. I've always said that I prefer plants for my photographic subjects, and so it was a useful excursion. Plus it generally smells nice being surrounded by thousands of flowers.

As per our arrangement, we called the other group to see whether or not they had been successful in procuring tickets — as there was some doubt as to whether they would. As it turned out, they weren't able to get any tickets, so they wanted to meet up with us again. We decided to meet in Puerta del Sol which is the center of Madrid (the zero kilometer starts there) which meant a 15 minute walk for Dima and I. We made it without getting heat stroke so I was happy. We connected without any problem and decided to head towards Plaza de España. However, we zigged when we should have zagged and we ended up at Plaza Mayor. At this point Daniel vanished on us to return to talk with his father. The remaining four of us headed on and eventually saw signs directing us to Plaza de España. Along the way we came across the Palacio Real and the Catedral de la Almudena. We stopped and took photos as usual.

Eventually we ended up at the Plaza de España and took more photos. At this point it was getting close to dinner time and we submerged into the subway and whisked our way back to the residence. All told it was a very rewarding trip — at least for me.

17May
Location: 2.1.C17, UC3M @ 13:02

What Now?

Well, it would seem that for the most part, my Europe Adventure is over. It has been an amazing time. Now, I am reviving the ailing colinbate.com and going to make a go of it over there. All the best.

Times

Nova Scotia, Canada
5:19 (Dec 2, 2020)
Reading/London, United Kindom
9:19 (Dec 2, 2020)
Thessaloniki, Greece
11:19 (Dec 2, 2020)
Madrid, Spain
10:19 (Dec 2, 2020)
Guatemala, Guatemala
2:19 (Dec 2, 2020)

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