July 2005


Madrid I

The first thing I have to say about Madrid is that it was really hot.

How hot you ask?

I arrived at my hotel at 11 in the evening, grabbed a quick shower, and headed out for a walk. I emerged out onto a crowded Grand Via and spotted a bus-stop which informed me that it was a comfortable 32°C—roughly 90°F. The coldest I ever saw it was 26° (81°F) at 8a.

Wednesday Evening

Eventually I decided that I wanted to visit what appeared to be a big nearby plaza, Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. To get there I looked at my map and headed down Calle de la Montera, which on the map looked like a reasonable direct route.

Not only was it a direct route to the Plaza, it was a direct route through Madrid’s whore district. Lots and lots of whores. I managed to not look at any of them until near the end when I made the mistake of making eye contact with a girl, who slapped my ass and said “Why you lookin at me, you wanna fuck me?”

I didn’t stop, but in retrospect I should have said, “You can’t afford me.”

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol was bustling with people at midnight and I wanted a snack. So I stopped at a café just off the plaza and watched people wander around for awhile before paying for my food and heading back to the hotel.

While in Prague I’d made the mistake of not buying a Madrid guidebook, so I was fortunate when I was able to find one in English for sale at the Frankfurt Airport. Unfortunately no sooner than I had purchased it than a woman on her way home to Chile started talking to me, and I never got a chance to read more than 10 or 15 random pages before arriving in Madrid.

I’ll cover the flight in a separate post later.

Museo Nacional del Prado

Thursday morning was spent in two separate Museums—the first was Museo del Prado, which is perhaps the most famous one in Madrid. I realize that I am about to sound like a heathen, but it wasn’t really for me. I can only take so much of religious artwork before I am tired of it—even if it was painted by another famous artist.

Which reminds me—could somebody please tell me which Biblical story features a woman squirting breast milk into the mouth of a man a short distance away? I noticed that this is a popular story to depict—presumably because it features an uncovered breast.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the first special exhibit which was featuring a restored “Venus, Adonis & Cupid” by Annibale Carracci. It was magnificent.

The second special exhibit was also magnificent, The Palace of the Planet King featured art from the reign of Philip IV. I lost a great deal of time in the first half of the exhibit, before I suddenly realized that I could use a toilet. I ended up speeding through the last half before consulting the map and finding one upstairs.

By far the best part of the Prado was the basement, there was an incredible crystal collection, the Treasure of the Dauphin. I visited these rooms first, and regretted having checked my camera. Much of the work is incredibly intricate and beautiful.

Museo Nacional de artes Decorativas

Skip the Decorative Arts Museum. I went there because I usually like these kinds of museums. What I found was a curiously and oddly arranged museum with poor lighting. I couldn’t see many of the displays.

Thursday Afternoon

From the Decorative Arts Museum I headed down to the Botanic Gardens where I found a shady bench and wrote a couple of postcards, including one to the Designated Recipient. It was clear that at the botanic gardens most people where sitting in the shade, and that the further from the entrance you got, the fewer people you encountered. After relaxing for awhile, I walked up a busy street toward my hotel and eventually taking a siesta.

My evening plans consisted of meeting my sister and her colleague for dinner. On the way there I ducked into a little shop to buy a bottle of water. While I was in there I listened to an Amerikan buy two cans of Coke, and then ask for straws, at the top of his elderly lungs. Later I was sitting on a bench killing a few minutes and watching the people pass and the eldery man and his wife sat down next to me. They were criticizing a local who was jogging in the 37°C (~100°F) heat.

“Where are you from?” I finally asked, hoping to break their patter.

“The United States.”

“That part’s obvious. Where in the United States?”

It turns out they were from Boston. They continued to criticize the jogger.

The rest of the trip, coming soon.

1 comment to Madrid I

  • ChrisC

    They elderly couple was criticizing the jogger?

    Would I be correct to assume it was probably because the couple together made a perfect double-zero? 😉 For clarification, I’m saying that if one of them stood next to Lance Armstrong or Calista Flockhart they would make a perfect 10.

    Oh, and leave it to you to come up with an appropriate response to that rude prostitute, even if it was after the fact. I like that! I’ll have to remember it in case I encounter a situation worth of a similar response.