Thursday, July 26, 2012

El Escorial

On Saturday, June 23, 2012, Beverly and I took the train to the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 28 miles northwest of Madrid. El Escorial is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.

We traveled by Bus 32 to Atoche Renfe train station and then took the cercanía ("near-by") train to El Escorial. From there we took a taxi to the Valle de los Caídos, a Basílica and monument in the Sierra de Guadarrama. Conceived by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to honor and bury those who fell during the Spanish Civil War, it was also claimed by Franco that the monument was meant to be a "national act of atonement."

Valle de los Caídos, Basilica of the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen:

Closer-up view of the huge Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen on the hill above the basilica:

 Archway, Basilica Valle de los Caídos:

After our half-hour stop at the Valle de los Caídos, our taxi driver took us to El Escorial:

Another view of El Escorial (photos inside the monastery were not allowed):

A wedding had just taken place in the basílica of El Escorial:

A picture of some of the wedding party in the basilica courtyard:

A Rolls-Royce awaited the newly married couple:

A view of El Escorial from the other side:

A closeup of the monastery garden:

Our final view of El Escorial as we walked back to the train station:

It was an enjoyable day in a wonderful part of Spain.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Toledo, Spain

On June 22, 2012, Scott and Beverly took the Renfre train from the Madrid Atocha station to Toledo, Spain. This is the notice for the Toledo train leaving from Atocha:

We arrived in Toledo about 8:50 (30 minute train ride from Madrid) to this station:

This was our first view of Alcázar fortress (now a museum), the Alcántara bridge, and the Tajo River:

 This is a closer view of Alcázar on the hill in the old walled city of Toledo:

Here is another view of Alcázar and the Río Tajo:

 Beverly stands at the entrance of Alcázar after we had gone through the museum:

Scott was not happy that cameras weren't allowed inside the museum; however, they were allowed in the courtyard:

After visiting Alcázar, we went to the wonderful art museum--Museo de la Santa Cruz:

Wonderfully, this museum allowed photography inside and out. Here is the inner courtyard of the art museum:

 This beautiful painting is La Verónica con la Santa Faz by El Greco:

This is an example of a panel of azulejos (patterned ceramic tiles), made in Lisbon in the 17th century, on display at the Museo de la Santa Cruz:

Our next stop was shopping on the way to the Catedral de Toledo, shown here at the end of a narrow street (with Spanish flags on display):

This is the main façade of the Catedral de Toledo:

Inside the Catedral was this famous painting by El Greco, Disrobing of Christ (El Espolio), 1577-79, located in the Sacristy:

Next we went to the Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca, which at one time was a Jewish synagogue but long ago was converted into a catholic church:

We took a trip outside the old city to a viewpoint, from which we could see the Río Tajo and the entire historic center:

The trip around and outside the city was in this little train:

We loved Toledo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We Are Official Spanish Residents

Today we made the trip (two hours round trip by subway) from the Pavones metro station near our apartment to a government building (near the Aluche metro station) where we picked up our Permiso de Residencia, which officially gives us Spanish residency. It's a restricted residency; it does not allow us to work (at least not for money!) and lasts only one year (after which time we have to renew the cards).

Our residency cards (names and signatures removed for security reasons)
We're excited to have these cards because now we can have free entrance (for Senior citizen  residents) to the wonderful Madrid museums!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Birthday Party for Sister Eastman

Tuesday, June 10, 2012, was Sister Teresa Eastman's birthday. Sister Eastman is in charge of decorating the doors of temple missionaries on their birthdays, so Beverly and Miriam thought it would be nice to surprise her by decorating her door and holding a party for her.
Beverly, Teresa, Miriam

Beverly prepared a fruit pizza, a fruit plate, and ham sandwiches. Miriam baked and decorated a cake, and brought a watermelon and salted almonds:

Nearly all of the temple missionaries came (there were 24 people present), including President Tenney and his counselor President Payá, and their wives:
Pres. Tenney, Sister Eby (standing), the Lloyds, the Payas, and Sister Eastman
We even had a short impromptu recital and sing-along, thanks to David Eastman:

Everyone said it was a great party!

Guests from the United States

Scott, Beverly, Randall and Gayle Jones (Gilbert, AZ), Miriam de Schweinitz, Mary Martínez (Mesa, AZ)
Randall and Gayle Jones of Gilbert, AZ, have a son who recently received his mission call to the Peru Lima East Mission. When they searched for information on their son's mission, they found our previous blog, which led them to our current blog. What a coincidence that their first son was serving where we are serving now (Spain) and their second son will be serving where we served before (Peru). The Jones emailed us that they were on their way to Spain to pick up their son from his mission so we invited them to our church meetings and to dinner afterwards.

We also met a young woman at church that day, Mary Martinez of Mesa, AZ, who was studying in Granada, Spain, on a semester abroad program. She was staying a few days in Madrid before returning to the U.S. so we also invited her to dinner.

And of course we invited our close friend and fellow temple worker Miriam de Schweinitz.

We had a great meal and and chatted for a long time after lunch. Best wishes to the Joneses and to Mary!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spain Treats Its Senior Citizens Well

We have two types of cards that allow us to travel in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain at discount rates. The Abono Tercera Edad Transportes  ("tercera edad" starts at age 65) is an ID card that gives us unlimited transportation throughout Madrid via bus or metro (subway) for 11 euros per person per month. Because each round-trip bus ride is usually 3 euros per person, and we take 12-20 bus or metro rides per month (36-60 euros), this is a good savings. One day, we took an 8-euro bus ride to Chichón, with nothing more than our Abono.

The other travel card is the Tarjeta Durada, which allows us to travel on Renfe trains outside of Madrid for a 20-40% discount.

With these two cards, we can go just about wherever we want without spending much money.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening)

One of our "callings" is to be in charge of the Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) for the temple missionaries and for other Senior missionaries in Madrid. The FHE is held at 3:00 pm on the first Monday of each month in the Comedor (eating area) of the hostal in our building.

Today was our first time doing that assignment. We selected the theme of Pioneers (because we celebrate Pioneer Day in July in Utah), and made decorations accordingly. President Tenney, who is the featured speaker at all of these events, spoke on the theme, "We are all pioneers."

We sent out invitations a few days in advance, an example of which is shown here:

[A point of humor at our expense: We followed an example given to us by the couple who had previously had this assignment. We found out later they hadn't used it because it contained an error, assigning some of the couples to bring "un plato" (a plate). It should have said "un plato principal." After we gave out the invitations, two of the Spanish couples said, in jest, that they were going to just bring a plate, with nothing on it! We'll know next time to use the phrase, "'un plato principal."]

Here is the centerpiece (of green and tan wheat) that we used on each of the six tables:

And here are some of the other table decorations:

From top to bottom: table number; pioneer logo placed above each person's plate; event logo on which we placed the table centerpiece. At right: The silverware setting on a brown paper table cloth.

We had fun creating the various items, although it was lots of work with no budget and no car to get around (for example, paper plates are very expensive and difficult to find).

We look forward to our Noche de Hogar next month.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sister Missionaries to Dinner

We invited two of the young sister missionaries who work in our ward to join us in our apartment for dinner on Sunday, July 1st. We also invited Sister Miriam de Schweinitz, who has become a good friend. Here are the five of us:
Scott, Bev, Sister Kristianna Wright, Sister Eva Piedade, and Sister de Schweinitz

Sister Piedade is from Lisbon, Portugal, and has been serving as a missionary for 13 months. Sister Wright is from Sandy, Utah, and has been serving for only two months. Sister Wright attended BYU before her mission and Sister Piedade is hoping to go to BYU after her mission. After dinner, we enjoyed hearing Sister Piedade and Sister Wright share a scripture and their testimonies.

These are excellent sister missionaries, who are having success in teaching and bringing people into the Gospel.