I know this has been a long time coming but I was waiting on photos (my camera battery died on karaoke night and I didn’t take ANY of the city at all!) But, still only some photos of me in front of the palace so I will plough through and maybe add some in later.
So I housesat for Reg in La Latina for two weeks, and had the quietest holiday EVER until she came back with her sister, best friends and Susi from their roadtrip to Portugal. I spent everyday wandering the city, eating tapas and drinking huge amounts of coffee, and visiting every art gallery under the sun. There are MILLIONS in Madrid, and they are amazing. I love Madrid so much, I think I told you that last time, but have decided it is not the best city in the world to be alone. Or maybe I’m just not very good at not having people around, I don’t know. The language barrier was intimidating, but ok, and I kept trying to speak French (I guess in reaction to “this is not English.”) Almost two weeks was quite a challenge since I actually am a wee bit shy. It’s funny how different places let you travel alone. Kathmandu was easy, and London will let you dissolve into the city, but Spain is so lively and everything is centred around the social – Madrid isn’t built for an observer.
The weather was FANTASTIC the whole time, and I came back with a lovely tan that London summer had declined to give me. I read a dozen books, and lay in the sun in the stunning Parque de Retiro.
El Rastro Flea Market is on every Sunday until 3pm just round the corner from Reg’s and I’d heard it was one to tick off the list. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to go to be honest – it was mainly imported cheap junk from China, some fearsome looking knife displays and then a handful of leather stalls selling beautiful bags and sandals, but which can be found all over the city on any given day. Maybe London’s markets have spoilt me, or maybe flea market doesn’t quite translate, but it’s fairly average and absolutely heaving.
The Thyssen was amaaaaaaazing, huge art collection ranging from 6th century to post-modernist pieces. I was really hoping to see Antonio Lopez’s temporary oil exhibition but alas, it was sold out until the end of its run.
The Reina Sofia is housed in a fantastic building – an old 18th century hospital. Huge vaulted ceilings and smooth flagstones on the floors.The collection is impressive to say the least. All the temporary exhibitions were closed for some reason, but the extensive Spanish art collection was open, including a great deal of Spanish civil war works. And best of all, I got in free! Madrid is great for student discounts and under-25 concessions. I spent hours wandering the four floors admiring or ignoring Picasso, Miro, and Man Ray. (I think I offended someone who asked me what I thought of Guernica… note: don’t shrug.) The fourth floor was my favourite – a veritable maze of 20th century artwork from a collection of international and Spanish artists. Other pieces that took my fancy – Benjamin Palencia’s collages, Man Ray’s Indestructible Object, Lumiere’s film The Serpentine Dance, and Lygia Pape’s Magnetised Space.
I actually skipped the Prado this time. I went last time and spent hoooours there. I went a couple of times to get tickets then changed my mind due to the vast braindump the other galleries had performed on me.
Everyone returned for my last weekend in Madrid, and Beth moved from London too! Beth and I checked into a hostel for the weekend – Cat’s (a great, big, friendlyish but slick outfit.) It was all go – straight to the jamon shop for cheese, ham and cava, via the bar for a quick beer (3 euro for a a bucket of 5.) Then on to tapas bars in La Latina for a quick bite and wine, and karaoke – the most unlikely of Spanish evenings. Saturday morning spent quietly reflecting on the joys of alcohol and hostel awakenings. Beth moved into her hostel for the next few weeks, mad jealous Fabrizzio Guesthouse overlooking Plaza Mayor. Definitely my next hostel if I can’t crash at friends in Madrid!
Sunday brought amaaaaaaaaazing paella at Costa Blanca in Quevedo, and last but not least, a bull fight.
I have lots to write on the bull fighting. Will leave it for another day so you aren’t actually reading a novel. I promise to put lots of photos in my next posts to make up for this one!
La vida loca, besos!