December 29 & 30, 2010 Madrid, Spain

Wednesday, Decedmber 29
We are winding up our trip now. I am lumping these last two Madrid days together. It’s about 5 PM on December 30 and our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 10 AM. We have vowed not to eat between 10 and midnight tonight. So I don’t think there will be too much happening from here on out.

On Wednesday we leave Toledo and make our way to Madrid. Madrid looks like a big city. There’s a bunch of industrial stuff on the outskirts and smog hangs over the city. The traffic is heavy but not too bad. We negotiate our way to the hotel with no problems. We can have our rooms right away which is a plus. John goes to return the rental car and walk back from the train station. Our Madrid outing starts around 2:30 PM.

First we decide to get some lunch. Well it seems that everyone else in Madrid has the same idea and every place we pass is jammed with people. A lot of them are smoking. Not good.

One of the things I have noticed here in Madrid is that the cafes are packed all the time. Whenever we walk by a cafe there is standing room only. And there are a lot of people out on the street. One wonders when they work.

We have decided to visit the Reina Sofia Museum this afternoon and decide to eat there instead. Probably no smoking at the cafe there. So we eat the ubiquitous ham and cheese sandwich and then start our visit.

The major work at this museum is Picasso’s Guernica.
Picasso  Guernica

Guernica, a small town in Spain’s Basque country, was bombed by German and Italian warplanes on April 26, 1937. Hitler supported Franco’s fascist movement and used this opportunity to try out new munitions. The town was mostly populated by women and children as the men were away fighting the war. The painting shows the horrors of war on the civilian population. It was shown at the Paris International Exposition in 1937 and has become a symbol of war’s destruction of innocent lives.

The museum also has a lot of Picasso’s sketches for the various pieces of Guernica and also film about the civil war, posters, and photographs. Although we rent the audioguide, it has very little information about the works. There are no English subtitles so we are left in the dark about much.

Much later, after 9, we head off to dinner nearby. The hotel recommends the restaurant. There are actually a few tables occupied. From the general chatter in the room we can tell they are mostly Americans. This is the worst dinner we have had. Greasy, heavy food. None of us eat much.

Thursday, December 30

Today is our day to visit the Prado. We get up early so that we can be first in line. Once again we are the only people having breakfast. It’s 8 AM, where is everybody?! (Probably tired out from eating at 11 PM last night.) There are quite a few people who have the same idea as we do and we end up waiting in line for almost 45 minutes. They have one person selling tickets. Here’s a picture of John and Sarah standing in line.

Once inside we rent the audioguides and set out. John and I see some amazing 12th century stuff and a bunch of early Renaissance alterpieces and devotional pieces. Sarah has gone off on her own. Two high points in the Prado are

Velazquez  Las Meninas
Velazquez’s Las Meninas and

Goya   May 3rd
Goya’s The Third of May.

The Prado is an amazing museum. We stay for about 5 1/2 hours seeing as much as we can before our feet and backs give out.

And now there is nothing more to do but find some early dinner somehow, pack up, and fly home. It has been a wonderful trip.

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