Friday, June 20, 2014
Thursday June 19, 2014 I was so lucky with my timing on coming to Spain. While I was on the camino, Juan Carlos announced he would be abdicating the throne. His son, Felipe VI was next in line, and today was his coronation! I talked to Susana (my friend who I rent from) last night, and their apartment is under construction (they're remodeling her twin girls' bedroom/bathroom), and today was also the twins' 13th birthday. We decided that we would figure out where to go, and we could all go out to eat together, or something to celebrate both the coronation, and their birthday. We were just going to watch the whole event on TV. Then when I woke up this morning to helicopters buzzing around, it hit me how big an event this is, and there's no way I was going to just watch it on tv, especially when it's going on within walking distance of me! So I got ready, and called Susana. She said she'd just been thinking about me. I told her I really wanted to go out, and then she said she'd love for the girls to go too, but she couldn't leave the apartment because she had workers there. Anyway, I volunteered to take the girls with me, and we had a great time together! I didn't really know what to expect at all. I'd read online the general outline of the day, so I knew they were going to be inside the palace during the morning, and then in the early afternoon there was going to be some sort of parade. I figured everything would be really congested, and that we wouldn't be able to see much, but I just wanted to at least head down there and be able to be a part of the atmosphere in general. I hadn't even made it to the royal palace before at all, so other than a quick glance at a map before we left, I didn't really know where we were headed. Susana said that “Sol,” the main downtown metro stop, was closed, and we should get out on the one before. So we just took the metro about three stops (that's how close I am!) and got out. It wasn't hard because we just followed all the people. I could see the Royal Palace pretty quickly after we got out of the metro. We were just about a block west of it, and the police had put up a lot of barricades, so we just followed everyone. They had us walk around the Plaza del Oriente, where the palace is, and then before I knew it, they were sending us through a security checkpoint and we were in! We made our way pretty close to the front and towards the middle, right along the side of a little garden. It wasn't even super crowded when we first got there (around 11:30am), but it was filling up fast. We had no idea how long we would be waiting because we didn't even really know what we were waiting for! We thought maybe the parade would start there. The girls were getting hot, thirsty, hungry, and tired. They played with my phone for a while. My Samsung 2 is a huge hit here. Guess they haven't realized yet that the 5 is out... Anyway, we took pics and videos of ourselves, played games, looked at the pics in my phone, and chatted. Well, they did. A lot. They never stop! I loved it. They were so cute! Then at 12:30, out came the king and his family! They came out onto the balcony and waved and the crowd went crazy shouting “viva el rey” and “Felipe VI.” It was so exciting! People were waving flags, wearing flags, chanting, and signing. It was great! We'd had a really good view when we first got there, but as the time went on, and as people pushed, we ended up with not quite as clear of a shot. People weren't supposed to be in the garden, and at first the police were really on top of things, kicking them out, but then towards the end there were just too many people. So everyone around us started yetting “fuera” to the people in the garden. There were some not nice words exchanged, but overall, I was surprised that it wasn't really so bad beign there with so many people. I think the fact that there were no cars helped a lot. We heard later on TV that 70,000 people were there! At one point we passed a cute young couple with a little girl who was wearing a Burger King crown. The girls (since it's their birthday) asked the couple if it was the girl's birthday and they said, “no, she's the new queen!” They loved it. It was really cute. Anyway, after the king went back in, the crowds started to disperse, and since the girls were dying of thirst and hunger, we found a little cafe that wasn't too overcrowded. I saved a table outside while they went in to get something. Their mom had given them money, and like the 13 year olds that they are, they each came out with a Coke and a huge piece of chocolate cake! They were so happy to sit at that cafe. We were there an hour, and I was ready to go. They didn't want to go yet, so I left them there and went and walked around the Royal Palace some more. There was a military band there playing, so I strolled around, just enjoying the atmosphere for a little longer. Susana came and met us later, and we went to yet another cafe since the girls were actually hungry for real food by this time. Susana and I dropped them off at the movies, and then she went with me to yet another cafe where I could get a salad. I was STARVING, and all there is to eat is bread. This country is obsessed with bread and ham. Or pork, I should say. And potatoes. They should call them “spanish fries,” not french fries... Anyway, I ate my salad, and then we strolled around one of the cute neighborhoods in the area. We picked up the girls from the movie and then I left them all to visit their grandma (who lives in my building, right below me), and have their little family birthday party. The girls really wanted me to come, but Susana said her mom isn't doing well right now and would be humiliated to have company see her. So I headed home, which I didn't mind at all. By then it was about 8:30, and I was exhausted. And starving again. I just can't wait until 10pm to eat dinner! I'll just put pics on Facebook.