Friday, March 31, 2006

Madrid; Day Two

Outstanding day today, simply outstanding. We began the morning with a 10a.m. breakfast in our hotel, prior to setting out for a day of sightseeing. First things first though. I've been here now for almost two weeks and I've neglected to mention one critical thing - the Spanish lifestyle and me were made for each other.

Specifically, I'm talking about the hours these folks keep. Man, every night here I'm eating dinner at 9:30 or even 10:00 at night. I'm not talking dessert here folks, I'm talking about ordering my meal and finishing around 11 or so! Our first week on the Costa del Sol was a bit earlier, apparently the English and German retirees there are bit more like their American peers who tend to eat early, but since we've been in the city the hours have been much more to my liking. I've never been an early riser and it is difficult at home to adapt to a in by 8 out by 5:30 sort of lifestyle, particularly when my family typically eats dinner at 8 or 8:30. So for me it has been like finding my long lost bretheren. Tonight we have reservations at an arrozeria (Paella and Sangria baby!) at 9:30.

Getting back to our day today, as I said we had a late breakfast in our hotel and then set out to the Prado directly afterward. I knew the Prado was well regarded, but I really didn't expect to see the sheer amount of art that we took in today. It was fabulous; Rafeal, Goya, El Greco, Carravagio, and many more. There was so much it was frankly a bit over whelming.

We've been doing these self guided audio tours at the museums and I have to say that if you have the chance to take these at some point, by all means do it. They're generally well presented, allow you to proceed at your own pace, and provide some balance and perspective to what can otherwise be an overwhelming experience.

Still, today, after about four hours in the Prado, my brain was in pain. Seriously, at some point viewing all the paintings and sculptures if you are not used to it, and I certainly am not, becomes a full sensory overload and you just have to give up.

So we packed it in, and went out for a sandwhich (bocadillo) and drink in an effort to regroup. Our next stop was at another art museum that I hadn't ever heard of - not that I generally would. It was the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. This was a smaller place, built off of a private collection and in some ways it was even better.

The collection is largely built in date order and begins with the "Italian Primatives" from the 14th century and moves sequentially up through the early 20th century. In a way it is an art history course on three very large floors. The cool part of the experience was when I began explaining my new found education to PD1 about how the art we were viewing began with the gothic and started taking on differenct aspects over time. PD1, very politely, tolerated my lecture for about 5 minutes and then made it clear that at 13 she already knew all this, and in fact was able to explain even more to me! I'm a proud dad.

We're back at the hotel now and will be leaving for dinner in a half an hour or so, so time to run. Tomorrow we link up with some Spanish friends who live in Madrid. They've warned us in advance not to have breakfast because they're taking us to "the best Tapas place in Madrid".


How cool is that?

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