We returned from Spain almost a week ago and what a great experience we had!
I intensely navigated through this forum and I used all the resources given by the experts to help make this trip more enjoyable. Therefore, I would like to honor their commitments to this forum. Thank you Holakjs, BennyMalaga, Revulgo, and all the others, for your time and dedication to help the rest of us, “in need” of information.
I can’t help but mention first and foremost the lively, enthusiastic and helpful Madrileños. Their joy of living, their willingness of helping everyone, their hospitality, stands up before the greatness of all the museums and other attractions that this city has to offer.
We left Barcelona, with its views from atop of stunning-magical buildings, with its narrow roman streets that lead to quiet plazas where locals shop for their “daily bread” and other bakery goods, where inhabitants parade their way through the luxury shops of Passeig de Gracia; AND immediately fell into the open waters of irregular waves of people in Plaza del Sol. The numerous long streets that lead to the open Square, hundreds of folks destined somewhere making their way through the busy merchants of chestnuts, lottery, and souvenirs, the roads loaded with trucks and cars moving in all directions, TOTALLY absorbed us! We threw ourselves into the heart and the arms of an electric Madrid!
We had only two days to visit, and decided to spend the time as efficiently as we possibly could. Therefore after a good lunch at Finca de Susana (one of the few non-smoking places we were able to find), we headed to the first museum, Thyssen Bornemisza. This fine collection offers work from English, Dutch, and German old school as well as modern impressionist and expressionist paintings. I gladly spotted a guash by Henry Moore that looked like a study for one of his seated figures (modern works, first floor).
We wandered the streets of Madrid for an hour or so, with the pleasure of doing nothing but crowd watching. Maybe it was the wine recommended by a lovely older Madrid couple, or maybe were the hundreds of people running in front of our eyes that made us decide to return to our hotel (off Plaza del Sol) and prepare for a busy evening!
Before heading to “La Casa del Abuelo”, we stopped to this lovely pastry shop in Plaza del Sol (shame on me, someone should help with the name) to satisfy my sweet tooth. The smell of cookies, coffee with milk, chocolateries, tarts, and plenty of other desserts tickled our hearts and noses and transformed us into two indecisive kids who did not know what to chose!
“Casa del Abuelo” was our firefly of the evening! This standing-only room, offers as their best specialty, Gambas a la Plancha, or Gambas al Ajillo; both accompanied with “El Abuelo” a sweet red wine, product of the house.
Some other good places we tried while in Madrid were: El Botin, for their famous (not-to-be-missed) suckling pig, Cerveceria Alemania, good beer and spirit, and Museu del Jamon for, yes you guessed, Jamon Serrano. I fanatically searched calle del Prado for “El Cenador Del Prado”, but could not find it. The listing address was officed by the Church of Scientology, yes you read it correctly!
The journey can not be completed without calling its educational vein. The city conserves the most important Spanish collection of 19th century in a wonderful neoclassical construction whose hall is illuminated by a covered dome – Prado. One can admire the best works of Velasquez – his incredible usage of lights and shadows to congeal the actions - Murillo, Ribera, Zurbaran, Rubens, and, my favorite, Goya – unfolding Spain’s anxiety and the ache of a lost war into (in my opinion) his best artistic years: the Dark Period.
To know and to understand the art of a country, one should dirty their hands into its darkest period; to try to feel Spain’s somber hours, one should mute the world out, in front of “La Guernica”. We seeped deep into the non-colored masterpiece of a nation in mourning (Reina Sofia museum).
It was already Thanksgiving Day! We glided through the splendid rooms of Palacio Real, marvelously being thankful for this wonderful journey that has enlightened our minds and embellished our souls with a warm beauty, such to be found in a world class city like Madrid.