Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 11: Madrid

Daniel, Lacey and I had an early morning start for our trip to Madrid.  We were supposed to take the high speed train (which I was actually looking forward to) but there was a last minute strike so we somehow managed to get plane tickets that morning for the 25 people going.  The 40 minute flight went well and, in typical European fashion, was delayed.  On arrival we were picked up by our guide and bus before immediately starting a city tour.  I'll be honest; I don't think anybody was overly impressed by the guide.  She had a lot of great information but the delivery style wasn't very effective.  Besides this, all went pretty well.  The first stop was the famous Prado Museum.  We got a guided tour and spent a good amount of time looking around.  It's filled with the work of Spaniards and has a lot of space devoted to Greco, Valasquez, and Goya.  We went to a "typical Spanish restaurant" for lunch  near a plaza with a cool Neptune statue.  The food was good, and it was all fish (not really a bad thing but seems to be a common theme for Spain).  I wish I remembered the name of the tapas but it was essentially pureed fish stuffed inside peppers.  After lunch, there was still plenty to see.

Madrid is filled with really interesting plazas, each with some sort of statue or fountain in the center.  We drove through a number of the well known plazas and one thing I noticed in Madrid as well as Barcelona is the lack of corners at intersections.  We were told it's to conserve space and it does make for an interesting variation in traffic flow.  We passed through the Modern District including the Picasso Tower and some really interesting buildings surrounding Castillo Square.  The main soccer (futbol) stadium in Madrid is enormous; it rivals many major US stadiums.  Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to walk inside due to preparations of the screening of the big Spain match that evening (more on that later).  We continued to the Arena for a photo-op.  Bullfighting still happens on a weekly basis in Madrid but, as I mentioned earlier, it's quickly dying.  The Gran Via was buzzing with activity as it contains some of the major buildings and stores.  A stop was also made at the Royal Palace and the adjacent cathedral before proceeding to Sol, the city center of Madrid.  The "old Madrid" section of town has a distinctly Spanish look to it and as we were driving through there were already preparations for the big game later that evening.

After arriving and settling into the hotel we didn't waste anytime before heading out into the city.  The bus ride was nice but I wanted to get a better feel of everything by walking around a bit.  We walked down to the Gran Via for a little while and back to the hotel to meet up with some other SASers.  One girl who has family in Spain and is fluent in Spanish organized a group to take the Metro (underground) to Sol (the geographic and cultural center of Madrid) to watch the game in a restaurant/bar.  I was expecting the whole atmosphere of the city to be really insane.  It wasn't quite as bad as it could have been but was still pretty wild.  We were in a minority not dressed in Spain jerseys and when Spain scored you could hear cheering down the whole street.  We had a lot of fun, it was a pretty cool cultural experience.  After the game we made the trek back to the hotel to watch a Tonight Show episode from the 90s on the only English channel and get some much needed rest.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you had a such a great time in Spain! Love reading your adventures! We are having a BBQ tonight and Jon is serving an Italian beer in honor of your next port!
Love, Weezie, Jon and Luke

Karl Stutelberg said...

Glad to hear you are having a great time! I see you are living on the wild side...drinking iced coffee...what will be next? :)
Love ya, The Sutels

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