It would be excruciatingly boring if I wrote about all the great things I enjoyed in Madrid (I don’t want to sound like one of qthose Barcelona partisans, either). Well, at least I can say that the random girl in Rome who said ‘the Prado isn’t that great’ has different tastes than me — I spent an entire day there absorbing everything from Velazquez’s Las Meninas to Goya’s ‘Black Paintings‘ to several thoughtful but sad paintings of fishermen and Prince Carlos of Viana. I felt the same sort of delight at the Thyssen-Bornemisza with its wide array of pieces as well. There were even cheerful paintings there, too (the Prado’s curators seem to prefer things dark and moody).
While I didn’t have any friends in Madrid, my friend, Josh, did so I found myself enjoying tapas one night with Rafa and Sandra. When I told them I wanted to practice my Spanish, they kindly slowed down and simplified their vocabulary to the point that we could carry on a conversation (as in, ‘Where do Madrileños go during August?’ and ‘Do people generally work downtown or in the suburbs?’) — I really appreciated that.
In addition to telling me how to order and introducing me to dishes like croquetas and tortilla, the two drew out an itinerary with places that I had to see. Thus, I found myself admiring the Egyptian Temple of Debod, marveling at the armor (including a piece made for a king’s favorite dog), and enjoying the festive neighborhoods by the Plaza Mayor. Madrid really has a lot to offer.