Monday, November 22, 2010

Balint's visit

So in the first week of November (was it already that long ago?) Balint came to visit me here in San Lorenzo.  I'd been looking forward to his visit for a long time; he almost never travels and yet loves everything new, so it's great fun to see new things with him.  For being 31, he has so much more of a sense of wonder than I have, gasping and pointing at things, being amazed, taking a million pictures.  It's a beautiful thing to see and it reminds me a little bit to chill out and stop and look around me as I run through this crazy life of mine.  Beyond that, it was nice to have someone with me here in my pueblo... it made things less lonely.  But most of all, it was just good to see my Balint, who has become so very dear to me, and spend time with him and get to know each other better.

I was honestly just really shocked when he actually bought his ticket and came to Spain.  Pleasantly shocked, of course.  We have a friendship where I'm never actually sure if we are friends, because I know virtually nothing about the guy, and because he is just so unneedy and happy being alone.  I, on the other hand, demand constant love and validation.  We're just opposite personalities, and I don't always know how to react to or interpret his personality.  I'm sure he feels the same way!  His actually coming to Spain made me sure that we are friends, though, which was the best part about the whole visit.

I miss his face.  Also, take that, popular opinion: I love a man to tiny little pieces, and we're actually friends. 

I lent him my camera, so all pictures are his.

I picked him up Friday night from the airport and we talked and mostly I just repeated "I'm so glad you're actually here" until he was embarrassed.  Saturday we were up pretty early for some sightseeing in Madrid.  Here he is in Plaza Mayor.

Me in front of the Cathedral de la Almudena.  This is one of my favorite churches, because the inside is so different from what you would expect from the outside.

Inside the Cathedral, it is all painted in bright rainbow colors, and the light falls through the stained glass windows and lights upon the floor, the pews, and the people inside in technicolor swaths.  I sat quietly and said some prayers for the many sick and injured people in my life, while Balint ran to see every angle.  Then we sat quietly for awhile together.  So I said a prayer for him, too, and then we headed out into the sun.

Me in the Plaza de Espana with Quijote.

I included this photo because Balint and I had a huge discussion about these two buildings.  He insisted the one on the right was taller.  I insisted that he was a crazy person, and obviously the one on the left is taller.  I was right.  After this we wandered for a bit more and then had dinner: tortilla, croquetas, and patatas bravas.  It was delicious, and Balint fell in love with croquetas.  Then it was off to meet my friends for a bit, then sit in a smoky bar and watch the Real Madrid match.  That's right: Balint sat in a smoky bar.

The next morning it was up early (for the second year in a row forgetting about daylight savings time on the way) and off to the Rastro, where I bought myself a pair of earrings and Balint bought himself all sorts of Spain goodies, including presents for his parents and the coveted Spanish national team jersey.  When I couldn't take it anymore and was on the verge of an agoraphobic fit, we had chocolate con churros (yum, and also my first during this visit to Spain) and then headed up to Plaza de las Ventas to check out a bit of traditional Spanish culture, at least as much as my soft heart will allow.
Unfortunately, there was some sort of beer festival going on, so it wasn't the most traditional of moments at the bull ring.  So Balint ran out to do his own mini San Fermin, and then we went and had lunch.

After lunch we took a nice walk through the Salamanca district and ended at the Retiro, where we chilled on a park bench.  I think this was my favorite moment of the visit.  It was very calm at the park, we could talk and relax, and I was happy.

Then it was off for more sightseeing!

Including Plaza de Cibeles and El Banco de Espana.

We checked out Temple of Debod...

and caught the awesome Madrid sunset.

On Monday we went to Toledo.  Now, I like Toledo.  Most people like Toledo.  Balint, though?  He loved Toledo.  He took so many pictures, and giddily almost pranced from one sight to the next, even when Toledo invariably got us lost in its winding streets.  He was totally entranced and amazed and infatuated with the city.  And now I think I love Toledo a little bit more.

The back of the Cathedral, which we went inside after lunch when I was a little tipsy from my menu-included wine.  Nevertheless, I remembered all my art and Spanish history and gave many many details on the architecture, culture, and so on.  Balint accepted my tour-guiding like a champ.

The front of the Cathedral.
This is absolutely not the best picture of me, but it's still cute.

Balint in the Monastery de los Reyes, in front of an orange tree.

itty-bitty doors

the mandatory Lauren-and-Weasel picture

the courtyard of the Monastery

A gorgeous pink sunset over gorgeous Toledo... there is a saying that if the red clouds float in a purple sky, you will achieve that which you most desire, but at a price.  I wonder what will happen to me.

On Tuesday a very tired Balint (not used to my epic fits of walking through cities) slept in while I went to work.  After work I made us lunch, and then we headed to Alcala de Henares to check that out.  He loved the storks.  But then again, I love the storks.  Storks are good luck, and are so encouraged to build their nests atop old buildings.  Storks also mate for life... the male comes back to the nest in the winter, and waits for the female.  When she arrives, they repair their nest and then raise their young.  Storks are mostly silent, but if their pair dies they sit in the nest and cry for days.  It's a heart-wrenching sound.
Plaza de Cervantes, who grew up here.

my university's building

After wandering Alcala, we headed back into Madrid.  We had dinner at El Almendro, which was of course delicious.  Then we sat around for a long time, talking, me drinking manzanilla wine, and I taught him some Spanish.  The waiter even brought over extra placemats for me to write on.  It was a lot of fun, just a great dinner.  And on the way home we walked through the longest metro tunnel ever.  It was a little bit creepy.

On Wednesday Balint came to work with me, which was awesome!  It was seriously just so great to have him there in the halls with me.  In Hungary, whenever I was exasperated, and I think when he was too, we would just make eye contact and immediately smile at each other.  I did that at one point during the day, and my heart almost broke with it.  I didn't realize how much I really missed him until just then.

We went for a walk around the park and then hung out in the evening.

On Thursday Balint climbed the mountain above my town, getting me lots of awesome photos.

Apparently he thought it was a pretty epic hike, too.

Then while I was in class he went by himself to Bernabeu stadium, where he took about a hundred photos, mostly of photos...

and he went to Plaza Castilla...

and he walked up to the European towers, which are cool because you can see them from San Lorenzo.  Then we had dinner and a beer with Carisa, and headed home.

On Friday Balint took himself to the monastery, then I made him lunch and took him to the airport.  I did not cry until he was through security, at which point I must admit that I did.  Not much, though, since it was only three weeks until my visit to Budapest!


Dad said...

Good friends are like wine, they get better with age. Glad you guys had fun. Love ya xoxo

LL's Mom said...

I am so glad you two had a great time. Love, Mom o0xo0x0

Anonymous said...

glad your friend came to visit and you had a good time sorry so late reading your blogs but you know me better late than never love you xoxo grandma