Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hola Madrid!

Getting Our Bearings

After my nice snooze on the train from Granada we pulled into Madrid's Attoche Renfe Train Station right on time. We also left perfectly on-time. The Spanish train system, like most in Europe, is superb. Since the taxi fare to the hotel from the train station would have been stunning (and since Roadboy is cheap) we made our way to our hotel using Madrid's clean and efficient subway system. 

While clean and efficient, within two minutes of boarding, we encountered another pickpocket attempt. 

So for anyone keeping score; the attempted pickpocket count for Team Roadboy stands at three in Barcelona and one in Madrid

And those are just the ones we detected and/or thwarted! So for you thieves out there you have just a few hours left before the big plane brings us back to Phoenix (where we just get panhandled!)

Well first off our hotel was a thing of inner beauty. I say inner because the outside is dreck. We are three for three on wonderful hotels. This one is the Madrid Hilton and is located near the Airport, this makes for an easy shuttle on Saturday.

The interior, while beautiful, was obviously designed by somebody whose undies were on way too tight. The only natural finish in the place are the hardwood floors in the room. Everything else is a fantasy in glass, chrome, black, and white.

Executive Floor at the Hilton Madrid

Note To Self 
Glass Sinks are Kinda Gross When One is Brushing One's Teeth.....

A Fireplace Fit for Austin Powers?

I must admit this hotel has just about the most amazing breakfast Roadboy has ever experienced. A seemingly endless buffet of fruits, salads, hams, smoothies, fish, eggs, and pastry. It is Fashion Week in Madrid and this hotel is filled with runway models. I have never seen so many long legged skinny people in my life. Watching them eat a chocolate covered churro, a bite of fruit, and call it good - was actually painful.

We started our sightseeing Wednesday with another hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Those have been great for getting our bearings in each city so far. We hardly ever actually hop-on or off. We just do them the first day and then use public transportation after that.

First impressions of Madrid were very different than what I had imagined for some reason. While I had seen photos, nothing really clicked. I just kind of thought of it as another big European city.

After a morning of touring I realized it is truly one of the world's most beautiful cities. Period. 

It has broad sweeping views, a huge palace, wide boulevards, gracious plazas, cathedral's, larger than life fountains, exquisite parks, and meticulously cared for formal gardens. It has magnificent public buildings and world class food, museums, shows, and shops.

The Gates to the Wonderful Retiro Park

The Ministry of Communications Building

Hemingway Said Madrid Sleeps 
Only After It has "Killed the Night"
He Was Spot On!

The Gilt Dome of The Metropolis Building

A City With A Great Skyline!

Loved This One!

 Ministry of Agriculture

Exquisite Architectural Detailing

Public Art is Everywhere
Thursday was spent (the entire day) in The Prado. 

What a gem! Before today I must admit I was not all that enamored with the likes of El Greco, Goya, and many of the Spanish masters. During today's visit I found myself deeply touched over and over. 

El Greco's purposeful proportions and use of bold color. Goya's moving from sanity to  insanity and back. Bosch's pure insanity. And then I found works like Sorolla's 1894 painting "And They Still Say Fish Are Expensive!" After reading the backstory about the piece I had to turn away and regain my composure after shedding some tears. 

So much passion, humanity, love, hate, war, and insanity all visualized in one place. The English descriptions were so well done I felt like Sister Wendy was there next to me explaining each masterpiece.

Tomorrow is our last day. I just had to say it to make it real. 

More reason for tears.

Our three days in Madrid will be inadequate to do anything but barely scrape the surface. So much more time would be needed to fully appreciate this city and its wonderful people.  

Oh well a good reason to come back!

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

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