Yesterday I said a sad good-bye to Frenchie, his family, and my parents to catch a flight to Spain. From this point on, I’m completely solo. Though with all the running around I’ve been doing lately, it’s nice to finally be able to go at my own pace.
My first solo stop is Madrid. I was fortunate to find a room for rent through AirBnB. The owner of the apartment, Ana, is super nice and her apartment is beautiful, all newly remodeled. It’s really nice to start off in Spain with a room of my own. Ana was super helpful with great suggestions and recommendations about things to do and buses to take. She also gave me a lengthy warning about pickpockets. Apparently since the economy is doing poorly here and unemployment is at a high, pickpocketing is becoming a profession in itself. I’m pretty paranoid and vigilant about watching my stuff as it is, but this warning has made me kick up my vigilance an extra notch. The good thing (I guess) is that most of the crime is non-violent, so at least you guys don’t have to worry much about my personal safety.
Anyway, away with the negative stuff and onto the good. Despite the warnings, I’m really loving Madrid. I had such low expectations of Madrid, thinking it’d just be a typical city with great museums. Well, it does have great museums, but the architecture of the surroundings buildings is beautiful as well, very European with the iron balconies and intricate detailing. Also, I wasn’t aware of it previously, but Madrid is a very “green” city. Which means that there are a lot of tree-lined streets, parks, and beautiful fountains in the roundabouts. As long as I can keep my wallet, I’m really liking Madrid!
Today was 84 degrees (too hot for my SF blood), so I appropriately spent it in 2 of Madrid’s famous (and more importantly air-conditioned) museums. The first one was the Museo Thyssen. Museo Thyssen has one of the largest private collections in the world. I really appreciated how the museum was laid out – in chronological order – from early renaissance work to impressionist and post-impressionist works by Monet, Sisley, Degas, Gaugain, Toulous-Lautrec and Van Gogh, to more modern works by Rothko and Litchenstein. A very user friendly museum and a lot to learn about the evolution of art throughout the years.
After spending about 3 hours at the Museo Thyssen, I walked across the street to the Museo Prado, which is the national museum of Spain, containing one of the world’s finest collections of European art, from the 12th to early 19th century. To be honest, the minute I walked in and saw the huge large paintings, I remembered that I’m really not a fan of classical European art. (I’m really more of a fan of late 19th century to modern art.) Although it wasn’t my cup of tea, I was able to appreciate the massive works by Titian, Rembrandt, Raphael, Goya (though some of his stuff was a bit disturbing), and Velazguez.