More Madrid

Two months into my trip and I’m really starting to hate packing and unpacking…

I’m welcoming any distraction to keep from packing so updating my blog with my day’s adventures will be a good one…

I forgot to mention a funny story yesterday. At the Thyssen Museum, they made me check my huge camera bag. At the end of my visit, I picked my bag back up from the coat check guy who started getting really friendly when he found out I was from the United States.

“I’m starting to watch the show Bewitch-ed,” he said.

“O-kay… I’ve never seen the show before but I’m glad you like it,” I say, as I start to grab my bag and leave.

“I also like Mad Men,” he quickly adds. But he modifies it with, “Though I don’t like the way they treat the women.”

“Yeah, I like Mad Men, too, especially for the fashion,” I reply.

“Hey, you kinda look like January Jones, you know?”

Huh? Though I guess I should be flattered, I have no idea what that guy was smoking to make that comparison. I took that as my cue to leave for sure.

Anyway, on to today. I started my day off with a visit to the Palacio Real, which is still the official residence of Spain’s Royal Family. I guess it’s the Spanish version of Buckingham Palace. It was opulent, for sure! Frescos on the ceiling, tapestries and velvet lining the throne room and massive chandeliers. Oh and ancient clocks of every shape and size in every room. They even had an appropriately named “Porcelain Room” that had every inch of its walls covered in porcelain! And you wonder why Spain is in an economic crisis… But it was beautiful to view.

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Boo at the Palace

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Catedral de la Almudena, with the Palace Grounds in the foreground

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Arches leading to the royal armory

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Behind these arches is a bit of city skyline as well as the private royal gardens

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Indoor photography is kinda verboten here, but I had a take a quick pic with my iPhone to show the grandeur of this place. This is the ceiling fresco overlooking the main staircase to the palace

After walking around inside, I was fortunate enough to catch some royal ceremony going on in the front of the palace. I would almost say it was the changing of the guard, except the guard didn’t change – everyone just went right back into the palace. Maybe Spanish guards get their siesta, too?

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Standing at attention before the procession begins

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The ceremony itself was actually really cool. I wasn’t really sure what was going on since it was all in Spanish, but there was a lot of drilling with drums and a fife (?) in the background.

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After the soldiers march in, the horses follow

The excitement now over, it was time for me to move on. The great thing about the center of Madrid is that everything is pretty much walkable. So I decided to walk around and kinda get lost in the pedestrian winding streets. Eventually I wound up at Plaza Mayor, which was built in the 15th century as a marketplace, but now houses restaurants, street performers and lots of tourists…

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Really cool streets signs line the pedestrian streets

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Plaza Mayor

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Intricate painted detailing on the main building

A brief aside here…. GOOOOOOOO GIANTSSSSSSSS!!!!! I have ESPN gamecast on my iPhone right now as my only connection to the live Giants/Reds playoff game. Pablo just hit a home run! Woo hoo! 8-3 Giants! Keep it up boys!

Anyway, back to my pseudo-cultured ways…

I decided to have my first full meal in Madrid. I picked a restaurant called Tutti Mundi based on the reviews on Trip Advisor. It was packed when I walked in, filled with a good mixture of locals and tourists, so that was a good sign. I had the menu del dia (or menu of the day) where for 10.50 euros, I could have a drink (wine, beer, water), appetizer, entree, and dessert. They brought me the wrong appetizer, but I decided to eat it anyway (since I don’t know how to say “I didn’t order this” in Spanish) and it was really good – eggs and tuna baked into a puff pastry with a raspberry sauce. Next, I had a whole pork shoulder (it was huge!) with potatoes and chorizo – it was tender and delicious. Then for dessert, a slice of egg custard cake. So you can pretty much see why I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day…

After this delicious meal, I headed to the Museo National Reina Sofia, Madrid’s modern art museum. This museum is spacious and airy, but very oddly laid out. Some of the art pieces were odd and disturbing as is typical in any modern art museum, but some pieces were worth the price of admission alone. One was Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, a massive painting with symbolic ties to the Spanish Civil War. There was also a great collection of photographic works by Brassai, Cartier-Bresson (two of my favorite photographers!), Walker Evans, Man Ray, etc.

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Another fascinating exhibit in the Sofia museum. This was put together by a Brazilian artist. It’s a room full of sand, partitions resembling favelas and these live parakeets. The parakeets keep squawking which almost makes for a disturbing experience as you walk through the rooms, probably what the artist originally intended…

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A cow, a pig, and a sheep with unicorns overlooking the Madrid rooftops. Yeah, that’s weird

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Museum stairs

After this, I was somehow able to drag my tired body to the Madrid North English congregation, which thankfully happens to be really close to where I’m staying. I met some really cool brothers and sisters there. Well, now I have a congregation to return to when I come back to Madrid. I HAVE to come back. There’s just so much to do and 2 days just wasn’t enough…

Tomorrow: Sevilla!

2 responses to “More Madrid

  1. Cute story. Can I call you JJ? Glad Madrid exceeded your expectations. Can hardly wait to read your impressions of Sevilla. Game just over with a Giants win. Miss you.

    • I miss you too! Yes, I stayed awake long enough to see the win on gamecast. Here’s hoping we can also pull it off today. Got the Seville Starbucks cup, in fact, using their wifi right now. 🙂

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