Madrid stories

Trip Start Apr 22, 2011
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11
Trip End May 08, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Friday, April 29, 2011

Incredibly speedy train from Barcelona – just over 3 hours with speeds up to 300 km per hour! Very comfortable with meals and drinks just like on the plane!  Premiero classa esta sweet! 

Oh my goodness, the Westin Palace is a true palace and after meeting Alvaro we were treated like absolute royalty!!!  Hardly wanted to leave our gorgeous room!  But off we went to explore Madrid.

First stop was Plaza Mayor which was disappointing esp. with greasy calamari and diluted sangria in an expensive cafe in the plaza.  Not to worry – trotted off down another street to Plaza Santa Ana where we'd had a great glass of wine earlier and this time stopped for dinner and more vino.  It had been sunny so foolishly had left warmer clothing back in hotel – was chilly sitting however warm Callatlan soup and wine braised oxtail soon warmed me up – first carne (meat) in a long time!  Fell into bed for a great sleep.

April 29th – Chuckles  is 66!

Just had to catch a glimpse of that wedding dress!  And then had to hear a bit of the Royal Wedding ceremony, hear a few parts and just have a morning chill time in our hotel room.  Museo de Prado next stop (after yes, have to confess, a Chai latte at the Starbucks around the corner) to primarily see that infamous painting that inspired Picasso to paint 50 renditions/interpretations: Velenquez’s Las Meninos and it was worth the stop – absolutely magical.  This Museo is filled with old Spanish Masters’ work – huge and huge and more and more until we were so saturated we could no longer see straight.  Stopped for a fab lunch of quiche and salad – excellent Museo cafe for much needed sustenance – one tends not to have breakfast here.  And of course we had to purchase ticket for temporary exhibition and then had to see those too.  Is there any way to not have sore feet after walking in these marble floored museo’s??  Rich fell for Velenquez’s Los ' Drunkards’ – one of the refreshing paintings of peasant men drinking with the muse of vino! Yup, he bought a print (cool way to order digital copies which they print right at the museums) for his wine cellar. So many paintings of Christ on the cross, religious themes or portraits done of the rich and rulers.  Found their eyes often all the same in a painting and staring, staring, rarely smiling. 

Back for a rest then off to see if we could find a shop which a contact of Chuckles informed him of – good for die-cast.  A picture of our routing will tell the story of getting a bit off route but it’s always fun to get slightly lost in a new city – found an incredible park and amazing architecture on route and finally Calle to Barquillo and the delightful little shop called Machininnio with Carlos’ birthday present waiting there for me.  As we have found frequently with the Spanish, at first it appeared that the owner didn’t want to have anything to do with us.  However, after a bit of my stumblng Espanol and indicating our keen interest in his great little shop and me finding just that one “moy especiale” vehicle for my brother’s “Cumpleano” he was just so nice.  He even was comfortable with me taking his picture with it and then suggested a second one would be good too :).  Mission accomplished and another great adventure in honour of Carlos’ collection. 

Off to another picturesque plaza, Plaza de Sol, found a funny little cafe for paella and good sangria this time – quite enjoyable watching the Disco club begin to open  just next to us – after 10 pm opening and I’m sure it would continue until 4 or 5 a.m.

Another good day.

April 30th

Relaxing start then off to our final museo – Reine Sofia – to see what is touted as Spain’s most famous painting - by Picasso – Guernica and it too was as incredible as all that it is described to be.  With his cubist style he had captured so much of the feelings of war, of the town of Guernica being bombed by Hitler as sort of a “practice” arrangement between Hitler and Franco.  Many disturbing paintings of those times throughout the museo . Enjoyed the metal sculptures of Picasso and actually some of Dali’s work more.  Dali’s “Endless Enigma” will always  be a joke with Rich and I – he’d purchased a hand mirror for me in Barcelona with this painting on it saying that it reminded him of me – his endless enigma HA!  How true! The painting actually needs further study by bha. 

Rain off and on today for first time – no worries – rested a bit then headed out to do some shopping – really for the first time this trip.  Soon remembered that we don’t like big city shopping – each found a pair of comfy shoes and that was enuf.  Stopped at an old tapas bar on way down Jeronimo street to our hotel and had grilled asparagus and iberic ham and monecho?? cheese croquettes – gad this stuff is soooo good!  Needed a second rest today – particularly after R’s wee mishap with spilling a glass of wine on his wiff :).

Cervantes restaurant, 3 minutes from the hotel for the best meal in Madrid!  Wound our way back to the very back of the restaurant, wondering where the heck we were going, past the washrooms etc to another little area.  Only locals here and we soon knew why – no English menu, we laffed and worked our way through to order Iberic ham with wee bread sticks that we wrapped the ham around and munched, gambas in garlicky olive oil and then when we indicated we needed una mas dish, trying to understand what one was, she finally said baaaaa and we laughed together and then proceeded to devour incredible mini lamb chops.  Wine only in bottles it seems :) so waddled home after a great hug/kiss on the cheek from our darling waitress when I thanked her.  On  the way back we bumped into our wonderful Alvarro who was having a smoke break (so embarrassed that we saw him smoking!).  Learned how to say Malaga and Andralucia properly and chatted a bit and headed into the hotel.  Waiting for the elevator who should appear at our elbow but Alvarro, asking us where we were staying next so that he could call ahead and make good arrangements for us there too.  Amazing!!  But we will be well taken care of in a wee inn in a tiny town in the country.  Fitting ending to a lovely visit in Madrid.

Very much looking forward to getting out of the big cities and into the countryside.  Off by speedy train in the morning.

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