In the morning, I met up with Jenny, a friend from church who goes to SMU. She's studying in Madrid this semester. We all spent the morning at Rastro Market- the largest market in Europe! No lie, it is as big as a neighborhood, and you could find almost anything you've ever wanted there.
By noon it was extremely packed (as Madrid often seems to be!) so we headed to the enormous, beautiful Parque Retiro for lunch and helado. It had a gorgeous pond with people lazily rowing boats and enjoying the sunshine.
(And again, the ridiculous street performers...props to Mickey and Minnie, standing outside and taking family pictures like we were at Disneyland, haha.)
We found the beautiful Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), a pastel pink and glass structure next to a pond. We relaxed in front of the palace on the bright green grass for a good while, enjoying strawberry ice cream and the calm, cool air.
After much debate, I mustered up the guts to attend a bullfight with Jenny, Kaitlyn, and Kathy. Let's be honest. The only knowledge I had of toreadors came from a VHS clip of Goofy Goof as a bumbling, kindly matador. So I was a little shocked when Jenny explained the show to me. I'll tell you a little about it, but I won't chronicle the graphicness- you can read about it here. (This is Las Ventas, one of the best known arena for bullfights)
First of all, there are different groups of people that stab the bull before the toreador even comes out into the ring. Second, they kill the bull at the end. I am glad I went, because it was an eye-opening cultural experience.
I could understand appreciation for a talented and graceful toreador, but at the same time it wasn't the romantic, subtle dance I was expecting.
When Jenny headed back to her host home for dinner, the rest of us were hoping to catch a flamenco show, but once we arrived at the venue (early, to see what it would be like) the area was a little too seedy for nighttime, so sadly we missed out on this. We did however want to indulge in a tradition: churros y chocolate.
These aren't your creepy Six Flags Grandpa's churros! And the chocolate is thicker than a cup of hot chocolate. It's quite rich.
We enjoyed the friendliness of the waiters who spoke a little English, and then headed back to get some sleep.
Oh yes, I can tell you about a dinner experience we had (not sure what night this was) that finally makes sense to us now. We had a friendly but non-English-speaking waiter one night. Our table was in the basement area of the restaurant, and as we left, he passed us with wide eyes. "Besitos, besitos!" he cried and also looked like he was going to cry tears of joy. ("Little kisses" in Spanish). We were utterly speechless as to why he would lavish such praise upon us. You see, this whole time we had been leaving a tips at restaurants. But Jenny keyed us in to the fact that in Spain, no tip is necessary...you just ask for la cuenta and go on your way! Glad those besitos had a basis!!