A meeting all day and homework to do, but Madrid awaits, so Trudy and I take off for a walk around our hotel to get fresh air and stretch our legs. The hotel is in the business district but its not a ‘sterile’ area, there are pleasant cafes and bars lining the streets along with large London Plane trees, providing pleasant green patterns against the buildings. The Real Madrid Stadium is a 20 min walk away and we wind our way up and down a hill which leads to a church before arriving at what is a very modern, not unattractive concrete celebration of football (soccer) – it reminded me somewhat of a modern colosseum (appropriate perhaps, and I’m sure it has been said before). Soccer fans were taking tours and buying tickets for the next game. I hear there is intense competition with Barcelona……
In the evening we all went to the Plaza Mayor – a huge square, cobbled and worn down by 500 years of foot traffic – surrounded by impressive buildings – sadly renovation and scaffolding in evidence on two sides, but impressive none the less. The drive there was great – all the Spanish out and about, shopping, promenading – the city comes alive into the night after siesta in the afternoon. The evening was balmy and we ate tapas and drank wine and solved the world’s problems – with more and more conviction as the wine and food eased the day’s concentration.
Homework completed over breakfast, we presented it this morning and completed set tasks by lunchtime, so a free afternoon! I didn’t want to waste time and had forgotten to get myself a map, so hailed a taxi and in pathetic Spanish asked for the Prado Museum. Lovely drive along the main street – it really is a very attractive city (at least the parts I saw) – gracious old (and new) buildings, no significant high rise, wide streets, trees, parks and a sophisticated ambience.
The Prado has been completely renovated since I last visited. I heard one of the tour guides say that it contains 22,000 works, but only 1500 are on show at any one time. What works there are! Rooms full of Goyas, Velasquez, El Greco. There are Heironymous Bosch triptychs, Rubens, Greek statues, I saw a beautiful sculpture by Michelangelo, multiple Caravaggios and so many more……it gets a bit overwhelming after a while so time out for a coffee break and a quiet sit. I love the Velasquez royal portraits, especially, but I find Goya’s ‘black’ paintings fairly horrific – dark and sinister.
Sated with art, I remembered that my taxi driver on the first day said that the 27 bus would take me to and from my hotel to the Prado, so found the bus stop, paid my 1.10 Euro and hopped on. Not sure I would recognise my destination, I aimed for the Stadium, knowing it was close and then counted stops – I thought there were 10, but I was actually 2 short, so walked the rest of the way, checking with passers by, that I was heading in the right direction toward ‘estadio’ . So, now as I wait for a ride to the airport, I can say how much I have enjoyed my time in Madrid.