We arrived in Madrid In absence of any real answers to the question of what the hell was going on during that weekend and found it busy beyond comprehension or even explanation here in this humble blog. It was absolutely swarming with people and we couldn’t really see any clues as to why they were all there.
Having been to Madrid once before I wasn’t too upset in the change of plans that meant we spent one less night there and equally, wasn’t too worried about missing out on anything. C hadn’t been there before though, so as soon as we got settled into our place we headed off for some sightseeing.
We had an awesome spot, right on Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s physical and emotional heart. It had been some time since I was there so I was still in awe of the sights and stunning buildings and style in Madrid. I believe I’ve said this before, but the Spanish are so stylish!
After a bit of wandering around just to take it all in we headed to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, a gallery housing works from medieval to modern including work from El Greco, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and many more.
After the gallery we headed down to the big park, Parque del Buen Retiro and wandered around there for a few hours enjoying the sunshine and having a little rest under the shade of a tree, watching the millions of people hanging around.
We then went in search of the oldest restaurant in Madrid, Sobrino de Botín, where we were told we could find the best cochinillo (suckling pig) cooked in wood-fired ovens. After ages of walking around, trying and failing to read our very unhelpful maps, we finally found the restaurant we had decided to call ‘The House of the Suckling Pig’ only to find that it was booked out and expected to be full for the whole evening. I don’t know why we didn’t expect that this would be the case after seeing how busy the city was but we were so disappointed!!
We decided then that we needed a beer before we could face another search for ‘The House of the Suckling Pig’ – in essence by this stage C had his heart set on that particular Spanish meal so we had to choose a restaurant that was going to be able to deliver.
In the end we did find this really lovely restaurant and decided to splurge on a good meal out. We had been living most of our trip on a budget but as it was our last night in Spain and it was our honeymoon after all, we thought why not?
Our meal was delicious and the wine was delicious as well. We both made a mental note of the vineyard so we could get some shipped home but what with the delicious food and copious amounts of said wine, we both forgot by the next morning. Fail. I knew I should have taken a photo of the label! Alas we also have no idea what the name of the restaurant was either but it was gorgeous with these HUGE wooden beams on the roof, traditional wares and silverware and fine crockery so we felt like kings in comparison to some of the other places we’d been eating.
The next day we really only had until just after lunch so we headed off early on a big walk again, going past the Palace and having a quick look, around the city a bit more, down to the El Rastro, in the Latin Quarter, the most famous market in Madrid where I picked up some cute necklaces, and then headed to Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which is free on Sundays and houses a huge number of Salvador Dali’s work and, most excitingly, Picasso’s Guernica. I assume most readers know this, but Guernica, was Picasso’s response to the German bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. It is MASSIVE, more than 7 metres long and more than 3 metres high. His work has gained monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.
I was much more interested in this gallery than the one the previous day with Dali being my favourite artist and also having studied Picasso’s Guernica in school. It’s such an amazing feeling to see it in real life, to know I’ve stood in front of it, admired it and appreciated it. I never thought after seeing it in an old textbook in school that I would ever be standing right in front of it. It was surreal… and no, I haven’t got my two artists and their movements mixed up!
We tried to take some photos but it’s extremely well guarded and we were almost kicked out just for thinking of it so the only one we managed was the picture below of me in front of a Dali painting with my eyes closed. Good one! I have now seen so many original Dali paintings in Paris, Prague and Madrid something I never would have believed is possible and something I still get a buzz from. His works are incredible. I just wish I owned one, or two!
I have to admit, as much as we both love traveling and as much as we were having a great time, overall by the time we got to Madrid we were exhausted. We were a little sick of not spending more than 2 nights in any place and sick of traveling, sick of living on a budget and sick of our luggage so we were pretty keen to get to the next phase of our trip – the 10 days of luxury in a villa in Portugal, thanks to our good friend Johnny who had given us the use of his house as our wedding present. More to follow on that!!