Spanish Siesta… Arrival at Madrid…June 2009

By Sri.

Spain brings warm sunny and lazy siestas to mind.. Partying with sangria and tapas.. White villages.. Flamenco..

I made a fanciful plan of biking Andalusia, with family -dad, mom, sis, n DW…searched and found a conference in Spain, but alas, the timing of the conference coincided with peak summer.. 
I then thought of getting a spanish travel agent to book a trip for me, DW, parents and sister.. The final quote from the agent was too high.. Like all typical agents, he said five people.. You ll need a van, a driver, a tour guide.. So only Andalusia was about 3,700€, and Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia (the location of the conference) would be another bomb..
Then my parents backed out, and we won a citation for top ten e-posters, and we had to go…
The high point that I definitely wanted us to do was to drive through the back roads of Andalucia, see some white villages, try some tapas, get the feel of spanish wine and sherry..

Day 1- Arrival at Madrid via Paris

Our trip had a recurring theme.. Sacrifice.. It started off from when we deplaned at Paris, forgot our inflatable neck pillow.. Then to make things better, we found that we had to reach a terminal on the other side of the airport, within 45 minutes.. I had almost resigned myself  to miss the flight, but asked someone at security.. And lo and behold! We got a demonstration of how helpful the French can be.. We were spurred on in the que by successive helpful people, along with short dialogues in french.. And we reached our plane in time!!! Yay!!
Next when we landed in Madrid,  I lifted our brand new clam shell, hard bodied suitcase off the carousel, with the shell in splinters.. Dropping off as we loaded it into the pre booked shuttle.. The driver saying “Do you knowsyour suitcase is broken”.. And the same dialogue from the bellhop at the Viena Suites, Madrid.. 

Vienna suites is located just 500 mts from Templo-DeBod  and close to Plaza De Espana (Plaza Mayor). Saw the famour Plaze Del Sol, from the shuttle ride to the hotel. 

The broken .suitcase brought us on the first jet lagged trip to El Cortes Ingles, a supermercado chain in the whole of spain.. While  looking for suitcases, I asked DW what colour and size do we need, and typically, she shows me a mind numbingly fluorescent orange suitcase, that we would never mistake…
Then we had our first struggle at a Macdonalds.. No veggie burgers.. So he just pulled out the chicken patty, and gave us a limp burger, with a wilted lettuce, and a cheese slice.. Predictably, I rebelled, and made sure we had a more conventional margherita pizza with wine and cold water.. We then went all along the main street trying to find a shop that would sell us a sim card.. With our newly acquired broken, pidgin Spanish!!
Our by stop was the Templo Debod, a temple transplanted from Egypt when the Aswan dam was built.. DW had seen a screensaver of the temple lit up at night before coming, (who said she doesn’t research our trips :)! ) The temple was within walking distance from our hotel, but we were not impressed in the bright and harsh Spanish sun.. 
..We decided to come back at sunset ..( 2230hrs!!). Our visit at night was ethereal.. Heightened for some reason by our day time visit.. The shimmering, lit up temple looked beautiful, and the obligatory pics were beautiful!!
We checked out some interesting local fruit shop, where we found some tart, but pretty, translucent red fruits in addition to the usual oranges (naranja!!) .. 


Day 2- Madrid Sightseeing-Palacio Real, Thyssen & Prado museums

Next morning after a breakfast of Danone, Iberico Jamon, veggie pie and toast, we set out to see the Royal Palace or Palacio Real, after a short subway ride.. 

….I dont  remember too much of the palace, except the session we had with the circular polarizer outside the palace  (cpl cuts out scattered light, showing only straight light rays, and revealing true colours in harsh sunlight), and the modelling session I persuaded DW to get into… For some reason, I like taking pics of DW!!

…and she…Mine…!

After this, we traipsed over to the Thyssen museum, recommended as a well organized museum of conventional art..

On the way we had our first ever, Churros Con Choclate.. “oh so yum and delicious “ expressed by DW!!

..unfortunately, didn’t think of clicking a picture at that time… so this one’s being shared from the net…

At Thyssen …we took the audio-self guided tour and loved learning about various aspects of paintings, and I could show off in front of DW , I knew what INRI, under the crucifix meant.. Ieses Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum-(Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews).. This museum was like art of the world101.. 
Next .. with a ravenous appetite..we headed for a vegetarian restaurant called “Al Natural “.. widely rated on Trip Advisor as one of the best… and we were not disappointed!

Then we reluctantly trudged to the Prado museum……, both our novice brains fried with too much art in too much heat… And then two things happened.. One, just as we started going to the (short) que for buying tickets, we noticed the loooong que close by.. I followed Dennis the Menace’s famous poster.. When in doubt, ask!!.. And several people helpfully told us the long que was for the free entry one hour later, and  the short (almost empty) que was the paid one.. We decided to cut our losses and see some more art for free.. And then clouds came out and winds caressed our faces.. It was like god saying, “bachcha, you did the right thing”…

When we entered the museum, DW promptly went to the souvenier shop.. Cos we had noticed in the Thyssen museum that the best paintings had post cards and prints in the shop.. 

..We discovered Joaquin Sorolla, an awesome Spaniard, Impressionist..who loved to paint water, oceans, rivers, and reflections of people, children, maidens.. You have to see a painting to understand the beauty of his watercolours, how he manages to get a translucent sheen and see through effect..

“Promenade on the beach.”. one of our favorites.. shared form the Net… 

Trudging our way back to the hotel, after a long day…happended to see yet another Madrid landmark, the Metropolis building or the “Edificio Metropolis”.. all lit up and majestic!


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