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Published: October 13th 2010
We are now en route to Barcelona. Sitting here on the fast AVE train, smiling from my Spanish wine. Madrid was great, the city itself isn’t that impressive as European cities go, but the city as well as the hostel we stayed at (Flat 5 Madrid) was excellent. That is I have to say the best hostel we have stayed at (coming close behind the hostel we stayed at in Selcuk, Turkey last year). Clean and friendly, the staff spoke great English and we spoke very little Spanish! Ok so back to Madrid. The city itself wasn’t architecturally brilliant nonetheless we had a fabulous time exploring the city Centre. On Monday we went to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) to find it closed. And it was to be closed the nest day so we went to the Cathedral next door - Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena. As Lonely Planet describes it in the Spain guidebook ‘Paris has Notre Dame, Rome has St Peters’, and just about every European city has a signature Cathedral - not Madrid’. And true, the Cathedral, completed in 1992 is not brilliant. The structure itself once inside the cathedral is impressive with arched roofs but the painted ceilings, stained glass windows and basic painting it was a bit of an eyesore (compared to other great cathedrals within Europe of course). Very late 20th contrary not much imagination kind of thing.
After that, since the Palacio Real was closed (Bill wanted to see the Armory of course to tickle his interest in swordsmanship, I too was interested in seeing it) we went for lunch and a walk. Then I went shopping while Bill went to the hotel to wait. My favourite European clothes shops were waiting!
The nest day we ventured to the Museo de Prado, and art Museum. On the way we went to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiza, an art gallery of which the collectors the Thysen-Bornemiza’s collected these precious artworks over 2 generations. The exhibiton of art nouveau left much to the imagination, with the ‘green on mauve’ piece (literally a green square on a mauve background) left us shaking out head yet again in wonder at the new generation of art! The artworks were impressive but I'm not much if an artist and find most impressive art depicting lively scenes from rooftops or of a communal square rather than portraits. Afterwards, we went and saw a temporary exhibition of a Peru photographer, basically was semi nudes of supermodels and actresses. Ok……!
Afterward we went to Museo de Prado, which again were just artworks. Some marble and iron statures which I tend to find more impressive for their craftsmen ship as well as artistic work, and the biblioteca showcasing books on art from centuries past. The museum was free as it was Spanish national day which was great! Have to make an entry about dinner last night. We are being very Spanish and are having dinner between 9-10pm. So we went to a cheapo chain place and the, what we assumed to be the security guard out the front constantly was hocking up phlegm and smoking like it's going out of fashion. One had to be there but weird, gross and hilarious!
On the way to the train station today I had a lively conversation to the taxi driver, who couldn’t speak a word of English. This consisted of him going on about crazy taxi drivers in Madrid, and me nodding my head saying ‘si’ and laughing occasionally. Some words are close enough to French of which I can understand others I just furrow my way through and of course the taxi driver miming as well helped!
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