Madrid – Day 2
I slept in til 10:15 and to my dismay, woke to the sounds of reggae playing from the hostel reception. I HATE reggae, but it was kind of funny to me because a coworker of mine loves it and I complain every time she plays it at work. Apparently I can’t escape it.
I had pre decided to begin today with ‘breakfast’ at Chocolateria de San Gines. This is the must-do spot for chocolate and churros, which Madrilenos do for either breakfast or a late-night post-party snack. In broken Spanish I asked what the deal was and was told to order at the counter, then sit at a table in the back downstairs and wait for them to bring it to me. I was nestled at a table near two young Spanish guys who were deep in discussion over chocolate and coffee. Their voices sounded so melodic and stereotypically lovely that I sat here for awhile in utter contentment just listening to the sounds, occasionally picking up some words or phrases. Then my food arrived and soon I was dipping delicious fried sugary dough in melted dark chocolate. Does it get any better? I had my doubts at this very moment.
From there, it was a quick walk down to the museum area. I wanted to do the Prado today, but figured I’d wait til the last 2 hrs when it’d be free to enter. I’m happy to say that I ordered a coffee at Starbucks without incident, and even asked for milk afterwards! Go me. I took my coffee across the street to the Parque del Buen Retiro and it ended up being a perfect time for a stroll with the sun peeking out from the clouds. Even though not in full bloom, the park was really nice. There were fountains and ponds and the coolest looking sculpted trees in one part. Even the pathways throughout the park were picturesque. I’d have loved to see it in spring/summer when it’s full of color and frolickers.
I’d also have loved to have gone inside the Palacio de Cristal, but of course it was closed on Tuesdays. It’s basically a big greenhouse-like building with art on display inside… but since the structure is see-through you can pretty much see enough from outside. Instead I walked some more and found this massive monument by the lake where people were boating or just hanging out. There were plenty of stray cats also hanging out, and of course I just had to chase them around with my camera
After the park, I was on a quest for some good vegetarian food. My trusty Rough Guide had a little section on veg cafes in Madrid, one of which was located in the ethnic neighborhood of Malasana. I took a long stroll there from the park, past all sorts of posh- looking buildings, and my feet and shoulder were absolutely killing me by the time i got there, only to find that they had no open tables. Whaaaaaaat. Oh but I really wanted, nay needed, some veg food, even if that meant walking another half hour to another neighborhood and inevitably getting lost and caught in a downpour (yes, both happened). And wouldn’t you know it was closed when i arrived! How awesome. I think ‘FML’ would be quite appropriate here.
Thankfully that square had an organic veg buffet as well, so that’s where i ended up. After enjoying a dish of paella, salad, potatoes, falafel, and carrot cake, I continued my circular trek back towards El Prado, which I had intentionally avoided earlier because I was waiting to enter between 6-8pm when it was free. I spent a little over an hour there, which most people would gawk at and insist it does the museum no justice. And maybe it doesn’t. But my attention span can’t handle much more than that, and I felt like I had seen enough to appreciate the grandeur of the Prado. I basically just walked from room to room and stopped whenever something caught my eye. I mostly avoided all those famous 18th century portraits – I know they are beautifully done, but I just hate looking at all these ugly people! They’re all pudgy and pasty and have horrible hair and it’s just not fun to look at, I don’t care how well they’re depicted. And I’m ok if that means I’m a horrible person for saying that.
I did, however, quite like some of the crazy stuff by Bosch, and the various depictions of Madonna/child and churches.
Once I’d had enough, I headed back to the city center on a quest for tapas. Really, I just wanted some good, cheap wine somewhere very typically Spanish. This led me to circle around the same streets an absurd number of times before deciding on a bar called Almendra 13 that looked to be crowded and lively with lovely decor inside. So I got myself a â‚¬3 glass of wine and sat on a wooden bench by the window and soaked it all in. I really wanted to blend in and not stick out as the solo English-speaking traveler. But naturally, a fellow American found me out and started speaking to me in English and my cover was blown. Sigh.
I rounded out the night by walking over the Royal Palace on the way home and broke out the tripod to take some night shots. The building is not surprisingly gorgeous.
Back at the hostel, I was all psyched to walk into an empty dorm room. But of COURSE this Argentinean guy arrived around midnight after reception was closed. Goddammit!