“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.” -Dave Barry
The Lipman family spent Halloween 2011 without decorations, candy, costumes, parades, etc. I actually completely forgot it was Halloween until I was standing in the hour long line outside Madrid’s El Palacio Real and happened to see someone walk by with a Halloween balloon, a rarity in Spain where Halloween has only begun gaining popularity within the past few years.
Although not very Halloweeny, I had yet to actually see the inside of the palace and I thought it would be fun to do with the family. Once we finally got to the front of the line (who knew there would be so many people there at 10 am on a Monday morning?), we decided to do a group tour.
The tour guide couldn’t have been more informative. She took us into areas of the palace that are closed to the visitors who enter without a tour. We saw many beautiful tapestries, exquisite architecture, and impressive paintings. The palace actually has 2800 rooms! Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed, but I happened to take these before I actually knew that.
We had special dinner plans that night at El Restaurante de Carmen! In other words, my señora Carmen invited my parents over for a delicious dinner of gazpacho, tortilla española (the omelette/quiche thing I’ve previously mentioned), and fish. My parents couldn’t leave Spain without understanding why I constantly rave about my señora’s cooking.
Carmen doesn’t know any English and my parents don’t know any Spanish, so I had a chance to practice my translating skills. We actually managed to have some great post-dinner conversation and it was nice to know my parents had finally met the amazing woman I had been living with all semester.
My parents planned their trip around November 1, All Saints Day, because I knew I would have off from school and therefore would be able to spend more time with them. A great part about Spanish public holidays, besides that there are so many of them, is going to El Rastro, Europe’s biggest flea market that I previously discussed here. I got a pair of purple boots, a purple scarf (I was having a purple day), and flowery “genie” pants, which are really popular over here.
New camera anyone?
After our flea market escapades, it was time for the awaited paella. We went to a restaurant called Marina Ventura near Sol. We lucked out being able to snag a table without a reservation because by the time we left, it was packed! We forgot that people actually celebrate All Saint’s Day here.
Mom and Dad with the bowl of paella mixta. So. Good.
With our tummies satisfied, we took the metro to Arguelles to ride El Teleférico!
El Teleférico is a gondola/mini cable car that goes from the outer edge of Madrid to a huge park known as Casa de Campo.
Here’s a taste of the beautiful views.
A sign of autumn in Spain!
We hung out in Casa de Campo for a little while to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
You can see Madrid’s amusement park above our heads.
Too soon, the day was over and it was time for dinner followed by goodbyes because my parents had to leave early the next morning. We had a great extended weekend together and I am so thankful that they were able to come experience a bit of the country I have been living in for the past three months. I can’t wait to see them again when I get back to the U.S. in just a few weeks!