February 19, 2020
The high-speed train glided us across the Spanish countryside - through the Andalucian mountains, olive groves, vineyards, and hill-top villages on our way north from Malaga to Madrid, Spain's capital city. The Renfe AVE had us in Madrid in 2 hours and 30 minutes where we hopped onto the city's extremely efficient Metro to our AirBnB "Hogar Dulce Hogar (Home Sweet Home)". We tried something different this time and chose an apartment outside the city center, but convenient to public transportation. This one was literally steps from a Metro station. We purchased the 10-trip rechargeable card and used it a lot.
A 9:00 am start to our day was a startling reminder of the wide temperature swings in Madrid. 37˚ F (3˚ C) in the morning and 57˚ F (14˚ C) by noon. Layers work - and carrying a small backpack to store them is a must. Our first outing was to the Museo Nacional del Prado - a very traditional museum with much religious art and old masters. A unique sight was several painters creating replicas of classic paintings. While walking to and from the Prado, Nancy couldn't help noticing the striking gift shop at another museum in the same area - the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. If that's the gift shop, what's in the Museum? Why haven't we heard of this one? We should come back and check it out!
Our next day was jam-packed. We headed to the "old town" and had a number of sites under our belt by 1:00 pm. A stroll through Madrid's famed Plaza Mayor, through the Mercado de San Miguel, and into the Catedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena. Outside the Cathedral was a touching bronze entitled "Homeless Jesus". The Old Town was charming with its pedestrian-only cobblestone streets and grand architecture.
That afternoon we found ourselves back at the Thyssen Museum that we walked by yesterday. Why it doesn't feature more prominently in the "must see" sites in Madrid is baffling. This once-private collection is top notch - especially the 20th century collection that includes Picasso, Miro, Mondrian, and more in a beautifully curated chronology of Impressionism through Mid-20th-Century works. For all of our Belmont MA friends - there was a Winslow Homer painting titled "Waverly Oaks"!
Don't miss this museum when you come to Madrid.
A walk into a new neighborhood took us to Vinoteca Barbechera for some local wines and yummy tapas. It's fun how a few minutes and food influence how a wine tastes. What began as a collection of competing flavors mellowed into a lovely marriage of subtle essences. The wine bar had a family-friendly atmosphere with an all-American/British playlist including Tina Turner, Madonna, and the Beatles. The tables were clever - money from all over the world under glass.
As last minute ticket holders we were ushered to a table in a corner by the bar where the host introduced us to "our beloved family" - who turned out to be a couple we met while waiting in the line outside. They were two artists who lived in Madrid years before and were back for an immersive art class with another couple from Israel. The show and the company were excellent.
A short walk to the Metro, a 3 minute wait for the train, and we were back at our apartment in less than 30 minutes. Madrid does public transportation right - inexpensive, reliable, clean, and safe.
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Nancy McCabe &