At last, Madrid

21 Jul

Landed in Madrid in the morning and had a full day of city sights, including an Occupy-like demonstration down one of the main boulevards. Considering that many of the recent protests have been violent, we kept our distance, but managed to video a snippet.

It seemed to be a very routine and well-mannered protest. No one seemed overly angry or agitated. It reminded me of the protests we saw in Buenos Aires, which ran like clock-work on certain days. Pretty routine and unemotional.

I have a feeling that the true import of Spain’s crisis hasn’t really hit home with the people. Everything seems somewhat normal — there certainly were plenty of shoppers taking advantage of the July sales. But you can sense that under the surface there’s a uneasy sense of foreboding.

Even in Madrid, there’s a piece of Nebraska! This restaurant serves what else? Beef!

We toured the Prado art museum and saw a fascinating exhibit of Rafael’s late years. The Prado has an amazing collection of the masters. My favorite was the Goya exhibit. The Prado was jam-packed; it was heartening to see so many people standing in line to see art.

After the museum, we grabbed a bite at a cafe, then headed back to Hotel Europa for a much deserved siesta! Instead of napping for an hour and a half like we planned, we slept for three hours!

But not to worry — there was lots of daylight left in Madrid. We headed out for a very intense two-hour shopping spree right out our front door, followed up by a great dinner of tapas — calamari, potatoes with cooked egg, cheese, bread and croquettes (essentially deep-fat fried mashed potatoes) and of course, a glass of the famous Rioja red wine that Caitlin has been raving about.

Caitlin and Maddie are are amazing Spanish speakers — so I just sit back and let them order for me, check in at the hotel, handle the restaurant bill, etc.

We ended the evening with a little dessert on the Hotel Europa outdoor terrace, watching all the throngs of people walk by. I’ve never seen such crowds; it was jam-packed with Madridlenos shopping and eating and hanging about.

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