Madrid

Madrid had more Burger Kings than anywhere else I’d traveled. It also had a lot of awful street performers — and by street performers, I don’t mean people playing music on the street, but rather people doing bullshit like dressing like shaggy dog and crawling around on all fours in the hopes that a few euro would come their way.

Near the Prado, a person stood on a box dressed as Edward Scissorhands and pretended to snip at the hair of people passing by. But the worst was the baby imitator where a person with a face painted to look like a doll’s and wearing a bonnet would be crouched behind a stroller, resting their painted adult face above a doll’s body in the seat of the stroller. Beyond having to see a painted adult face making crying faces, the person made a terrible squeaking noise that you could hear for blocks away.

Also in Madrid? Prostitutes! Right between a main plaza and the Gran Via. On a side street, one sat with her blouse open, her aged tits hanging out.

All of this is to say that Madrid is a classy place.

Unlike Barcelona, my first impressions of Madrid weren’t very positive. We’d walked through much of the city center on our first day and hadn’t found much that caught our interest. But I figured that we just had to try a little harder in Madrid, that what made Madrid special was less obvious than what made Barcelona special.

We set out to explore different neighborhoods like Chueca, Malasana, and Salamanca, and since we love seeing local food markets, we went to both Mercado de San Miguel and the Mercado de San Antón — both mercados seemed a bit  like SF’s Ferry Building in that they had more restaurants and prepared food vendors than fresh produce. But depite our efforts, nothing really stood out.

The one exception was the architecture. I loved all the buildings with boxed-in glass-and-wrought-iron balconies and I thought that perhaps if I were looking out at Madrid from an enclosed balcony rather than muddling through its streets, Madrid would seem more appealing.

My mom pointed out that museums and parks can be a refuge in a city and that certainly held true for Madrid. I’d come to Madrid in part because of its museums and the museums were the best part of my time there.

The Reina Sofia museum was my favorite (we went twice). I learned so much about Spanish history from the exhibits, but the highlight of the museum (and of my time in Madrid) was seeing Picasso’s Guernica. We’d arrived at the museum in the early evening and we got to see Guernica with only a handful of other people — such a stark contrast to seeing the Sistine Chapel.

Jeronimos church, taken from the Prado

The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum was a good lesson in art history. It’s laid out chronologically so the exhibit starts with early religious art and ends with modern art. The Prado was probably the least interesting to me, but I loved the Retiro Park, just behind the Prado. In October, the trees were begining to color and it was a lovely place to walk.

If you’re going to Madrid, my advice is to keep your visit short (we stayed four days which was WAY too long for me). Stay near the museums, see as much art as you can and then get the hell out.

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One Response to “Madrid”

  1. marinachetner Says:

    good to know about Madrid. I definitely need to do my homework before going as I love Barcelona! I just posted on Park Guell and want to go back…! Thanks for sharing this!

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