I’ve been so caught up in our weeklong vacation (and an overdose of cookies, torrijas, and cider) that I haven’t been able to overcome my writer’s block and tell you all about what I’ve been up to.
Firstly, here are some posts I’ve been working on to be published in the upcoming weeks:
- Another edition of “My Favorite Song,” based on this song right here.
- An essay about my visit to the Reina Sofia Museum to see lots of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali paintings.
- An essay about why many of the high schooler’s gearing up for graduation should take this opportunity before going to college or work to pursue a gap year.
- An essay about the future job I’d like to have.
- An essay about how solo-travel is a form of the ever-popular “self-care” movement
- A money diary! That I definitely promised a month ago, but I’m getting to it, I swear.
So be on the lookout for those!
In the meantime, here’s a look at things I’ve done during vacation, all under the umbrella of Holy Week.
Holy Week in Madrid: Sunday – Tuesday
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a national holiday in Spain, and depending on where you are in Spain, this will either completely disrupt your life or just inconvenience you. Starting with Palm Sunday, there’s Holy Monday and Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter. Catholic Spaniards celebrate each one of these days with a procession through the streets, holy sweets (yummmm!), and church services.
In the capital, it’s not entirely disruptive (we’re a capital city after all) but it’s incredibly difficult to get anything done. As teachers, all schools were closed and we had the entire week off, but we couldn’t shop for groceries most days, or handle any banking errands. Everything was closed.
I started the week with simple goals, I wanted to see a procession (Just like Anthony Bourdain (starts 12:35)!). I tried on Palm Sunday, but the floats in the procession are so heavy that the parade goes by at a snail’s pace. It started to get cold so my friend (and coworker) Gabi and I decided to go eat torrijas instead.
Torrijas are what Americans would call french toast, but it’s soaked in milk before being cooked and glazed with a wine-based syrup. They’re served cold (although I think they would be amazing warm with some milk), and you can buy them from most stores and bakeries this time of year.
Monday is a typical day of relaxation and laziness. Gabi and I have been enjoying going to Pub Trvia lately, so we got up early to buy some taiyaki, a fried Japanese pastry shaped like a fish (in this case filled with ice cream!).
We’ve hit a wall in our trivia, being exactly mediocre every match, dead center in the rankings.
Later, I meet up with my friend Anisa on Tuesday to visit Toledo.
Toledo is an ancient city no less than an hour from Madrid, where Islam, Judaism, and Christianity meet. It’s a super old city (my favorite kind), established near 59 BCE. It’s hilly, but worth the climb.
Toledo is also one of the areas that the famed Spanish author and playwright Cervantes called home, thus a statue to him near the entrance.
I came to Toledo with one goal, see the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca. It’s a synagogue created by Muslims, essentially, so the architecture is very Arab in origin. It’s emblematic of Toledo. Anisa and I had a field day taking photos.
Later, Anisa and I stopped by the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, one of the most important cathedral in Spanish history and a perfect example of ridiculous gothic archictecture.
As someone who grew up Methodist, cathedrals always blow my mind because not only are they purposefully meant to be awe-inspiring and opulent, but the idea that sculptors risked their lives to decorate a church entry with miniature saints is ridiculous!
Toledo was something else. One of my professors, highly invested in my ability to conquer as many Spanish cities as possible chided me for not going inside the cathedral. If I have time, I’ll experience more once I visit again. Til then,
¡Adiós, Toledo! Your wonderful architecture, rude waiters, and hilly hills will be missed!