Madrid Day 3 (2 January 2010)

We started our third day in Madrid with a lovely walk through Jardines del Buen Retiro.

And we definitely weren’t the only ones.  The weather had improved slightly and it seemed like the whole city was out taking a stroll through the park.

The park dates back to the early 16th century and is the most popular park in Madrid.  There are beautiful fountains, sculptures and a little lake where you can rent row boats to cruise around.

Street theater, musicians, and admiring crowds were everywhere. Yes it was the beginning of January, but it was that morning that we got a hint of what Madrid must be like during the summer.

We could have stayed all afternoon and just enjoyed the weather and the slow pace of the park.  But we had to make our trip brief as we were heading to the Prado, which we knew would be packed with people.

While the line didn’t take us longer than 30 or 40 minutes to navigate, the museum itself was packed. The Prado is a lovely museum.  And we felt like we had to go because that’s one of the must-do things in Madrid and has one of the finest collections of European art in the world.  The Goyas were lovely and we had to laugh when we saw the collection of El Greco that we had seen in Budapest last winter.  And I think it was less our appreciation for 12th century art and more the crowds and empty stomachs that had us hurry through the museum.

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant next to the museums.  It too was packed to the walls full of people ordering sandwiches, which seemed to be the 2p.m eating item.  I had the calamares sandwich, which seemed to be the most popular item, and Györgyi (who is no friend to “sea creatures” as she calls them) had a chicken sandwich of some kind.  Györgyi’s Spanish is quite good, so she was right in the mess of the crowd ordering our sandwiches and cokes.  Internet, have you had a regular Coke recently? A cold one from a can?  I know that everyone is on day 11 of resolutions, but just try one this month.  It’s a real miracle.

After lunch we went next door to the Reina Sofia museum, which houses the contemporary art and of course, Picasso’s Guernica, one of the 20th century’s most important paintings.

Now see, isn’t this a nice picture of the painting?  I pulled this off of a website from Stanford.  But I could have pulled it from the 30 million other websites that have it.  And why am I even telling you this, Internet?  It’s because while seeing Guernica was absolutely amazing, the experience was nearly ruined by all of the disrespectful JERKS who were trying to take a picture of it.  If you haven’t ever seen it, it’s a huge painting.  It was a mural, remember, for the world’s fair in Paris.  It’s the size of a whole wall.  And the three or four volunteers who were trying to guard it had to keep yelling at people Senor, Senora, no photos, no photos and run to block their shots.  And as soon as they turned around, the cameras were up and snapping again.  I just found it so disrespectful, honestly.  And either the teacher in me or the fact that I am my mother’s daughter came out and I determined that if I were in charge of that exhibit I would have just  SHUT. IT. DOWN.  Or fine people.  But as soon as the desire crept up in me to start slapping cameras out of peoples hands, I decided it was time to leave.  Sigh.  I’ve been waiting a whole week to get that off my chest.  Thank you, Internet.

After the museum, we walked around town a bit more, trying to explore neighborhoods that we hadn’t seen due to the days of rain.  We walked up a few side streets and found another little plaza that was starting to bustle with people.  As we walked, we spotted an open window table in a small taberna and decided to sit down for some tapas and a few drinks.

I had the house beer and Györgyi had a sangria while we decided what little bites we wanted.

Olives, shrimp, calamari.  Fresh, simple and delicious food.  It’s what Spain is known for, and in the reputation did not disappoint. Györgyi ate and even liked the shrimp, even with their little dead eyeballs staring at her!

We lingered for a while, had a few drinks and talked, before heading out into the night to a long walk back to the hotel.

The lights in the city center were absolutely beautiful.  I didn’t even mind the mass of traffic and people walking around because it seemed like everyone was also out to enjoy the rain-free night and holiday lights.

Castles, sculptures and potato chip vendors.

And children playing in the lights of a map of Christopher Columbus’ conquests.

And because it was our last night in Madrid, and we couldn’t leave without one last indulgence:

Flan!  The perfect end to a marathon day and night in Madrid.


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