Tuesday, May 23, 2006

El Escorial.

Day tripped to El Escorial today, which is a huge monastery/palace/mausoleum built by king Felipe II back in the late 1560's.

What was really neat about the visit here was the really nice exhibit in the museum of architecture, which documents how the complex of El Escorial was built. It has some really neat plans, section drawings, and models with topographical studies and everything. The architect and civil engineer's paradise. It was also pretty neat to see the models/reproductions of old 16th century cranes and all sorts of tools used for construction: these folks had a very intricate knowledge of engineering. One way cool feature of the monastery is the "flat vault" of cut stone--it is perfectly flat on top but from the inside it looks like your usual round cupola, and no cross bracing. Neat!

Anyway, along the stroll through the monastery I made a friend from Argentina, who as it turns out was heading to Budapest tomorrow to live there with family for a year, so who knows, maybe I have a pal to grab some drinks with in a couple more months when I cross by Hungary. {shrug}

On the way back to Madrid we stopped for dinner at the "Museo del Jamón", which is this bar/delicatessen/restaurant specializing, of course, in ham and all sorts of pork cured products. Really delicious stuff, and cheap! So next time you're in Madrid, make sure you stop by and try all their specialties. Yum.

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