Day 2 was dreamy. When I think back on our day in Aranjuez (pronounced Aranwaith), I get a little homesick for our trip. Aranjuez is about 35 miles away from Madrid, and Travis served there for about 7 months of his mission. It was far and away his favorite area, and right after getting off the bus I understood why. Aranjuez isn't a very touristy city, so while we were there I was able to see how people really live there, and I was smitten. I mean, completely and utterly smitten. And Trav's excitement to be back made the day even better, it was like Christmas for him.
We first made our way to the city plaza. When T served there they had days where they would lug a big old table to the plaza with a display and try to get some new investigators. The plaza, as you can see, is full of locals just roaming around, enjoying the day. I learned a little bit about life in a small city in Spain while we were here. Like the building in the picture below, is the market place. Each morning the women go and buy there fresh meat, bread, and veggies, and go home and cook till there lunch, which usually isn't served until 2:00. Then at 2 the whole city really shuts down for there mediodia (middle of day). The stores close, schools shut down, and everyone goes home for lunch, and a little nap.
Yes, a nap every day.
Now in Aranjuez you didn't see many of the women walking in the city, most of them were home cooking when we got there, but we saw plenty of old men. While the women are home cooking, the cute old men are out window shopping. Seriously, they browse the same shops every day. They walk with their hands either in there pockets, or clasped together behind there backs, and they stroll the beautiful cobblestone streets all day long. And they are always dressed in slacks and a cardigan, and look mighty dapper. And of course, many of them are wearing cute little bowler caps.
Travis said he would see the same old men each day, doing the exact same thing day after day. And they push their beautiful little grand babies in strollers while they walk. We saw some very proud papas while we were there and it melted my heart, and made me miss my babies. A lot.
The main building at the plaza.
After we found the city center, Travis was on a mission to find some old friends. They own the 2 laundromats in the city, so we went to the first one, and they weren't there, and with directions to the second we made the trek through the city. We ran into this church on the way, built in the 17th century.
Trav was so excited to see his friends and be there, that I kid you not, he turned into a 19 year old missionary again, and I had to practically run to keep up.
Then we found the laundromat and met up with Maribel and Angel. Travis met them 15 years ago while serving there. He was the first missionary to contact them, and they became very dear friends, but never converted to the church. While he was there they were 'that family' who really took in the missionaries, feeding them, taking them to town functions, and just became very close to them. When Trav and his family went back 13 years ago they made them dinner and Trav really holds a special place in his heart for them.
I think he was a little nervous they might not remember him because it's been a LONG time since he's seen them. We walked in and Maribel was at the front desk on the phone, and she just stopped, and pointed, and said in her cute accent "Kidman!" They both came running up and gave us kisses. They were so excited to see him again. It was seriously the best moment of the trip listening to Travis speak Spanish with these people and watching him catch up. Angel and Maribel had beautiful Mormon pictures of Christ in each of their laundromats so Trav was a little excited when he saw them, and finally asked if they are Mormons yet. Angel just laughed and said "No, are you Catholic yet?" They are still very close to the missionaries, and they have just given them the pictures through the years. Angel told Travis that he was the 1st Mormon he knew, and now he knows 50 Mormons, all the missionaries who have befriended them. They are really amazing people.
Maribel was excited when she heard that we were from Logan, because she watched the Extreme Makeover home edition that was filmed here.
It was seriously fantastic.
After meeting up with Angel and Maribel, we went back to the plaza and found some lunch, where I tried my first Spanish Tortilla sandwich, and we sat outside, enjoyed the perfect weather and watched the people mill around the city. It was a perfect moment.
Next, we headed to the palacio real de Aranjuez. This is the palace that the King and Queen used to summer in, and it was beautiful.
Surrounding the palace are the most stunning gardens I have ever seen. The princesses gardens. I kept remembering my many books where the women go to 'take a turn' around the garden, and could totally picture them walking in their gorgeous dresses there.
I know, I'm a nerd, but seriously I could see it.
This is the very back of the palace, surrounded by the canal. Again, "Why am I not a Queen?" WHY!?
T and I thought this was very 'Alice in Wonderland'.
After strolling through, and falling in love with, the princesses gardens, we made our way to the Princes gardens a ways away. His gardens are equally amazing, but totally different in design. They were much more masculine.
Then we walked over to the Convent of San Pascual, where rumor has it there is an underground tunnel where the nuns used to sneak out to see the priests, and some of them ended up pregnant. Now, who knows if that's just a rumor from those silly 19 year old missionaries, or truth, but still....beautiful place, right? ;)
We left Aranjuez feeling so light. It was just one of those days that everything felt so perfect. I loved that city, and loved seeing where T used to live. Amazing day.
That night we stopped at the Plaza De Toros, where the bullfights are held in Madrid, and took a gander. I wish I would have taken a full scale picture. The place is huge! I mean, really, really big. Then we were off to bed so we could explore another city tomorrow.
Next up: Segovia.
2 years ago