Sunday, July 08, 2012

12 Days, 6 Cities - Madrid

In conversation with our waiter from the night before, he asked us how we liked Barcelona. Ma and Pa said they loved it but that we had to fly to Madrid the next day. His reply? "Pfft, Barcelona eeez much bettair than Madreed! You weeel see!" This could be just inter-city rivalry except that before going to Madrid, a lot of my Spanish friends, even the ones who lived there (hi Ruben!), said that compared to the rest of our itinerary, Madrid only needed one day to look around. 

Well, things didn't get off to a good start. With all our luggage, we decided to take a cab from the airport to the city. I don't speak Spanish and that's my fault, but this made talking to our taxi driver a bit of a problem when we got stuck in a MOTHERLOVER traffic jam. Our driver spoke to a policeman in rapidfire Spanish and then he promptly turned in another direction while saying to me, "Lo siento, ...something something, ....impossible...something something, ...impossible....something...Metro, something....lo siento." Luckily hanging around Spanish people for the last year and a bit has meant I've osmotically absorbed the language and figured out that for some reason, the streets leading up to our hotel were closed and given that it was impossible for us to drive there, he was going to drop us off at a metro station. We managed to get to the hotel eventually but it's kinda stressful trying to read a map of a city you don't know while having your parents behind you asking "Where do we go now? Where do we go nao?!" Exhausted, we ended up going to a restaurant around the corner from our hotel that we picked at random.

Funnily enough that night, Ma and I found it difficult to sleep. This was probably due to Pa's chainsore-style snoring so we decided to head down to the streets and join the crowds of young Spaniards still out at the jolly time of 5am. I think it was a real eye-opener for her. Needless to say, we were feeling pretty exhausted when we got up the next morning for breakfast, but after a yoghurt and zumo de naranja, I pointed Ma and Pa in the direction of the Palacio Real while I headed off to the Prado!

Palacio de Comunicaciones at Plaza de Cibeles. Pretty!

Fuente de Cibeles

It was a beautiful (hot) day for walking down the Paseo del Prado!

One of the great art collections of the world, The Prado!

Really. It's an amazing collection. Derived from the former Royal Collection, it is naturally filled with art from painters associated with the Spanish royalty such as Titian, Rubens, Velasquez, Goya, it's also got a great Flemish collection including Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, a reflection of Spain's former rule over the Netherlands. In fact, it was so good that I was kinda holding off eating in order to see as much as I could until I had a stomach ache and actually thought *Omg, I need to eat or I'm going to faint* and headed towards the museum cafe. One thing I discovered is that while I may not be able to speak Spanish, I can speak Spanish food. I had a bocadillo (sandwich), some zumo de naranja (orange juice), and tarte tartin (tarte tartin). I also learned that black bread is not pane negra - after laughing at me, the waitress told me it's pane integrale. I will forever remember this!

What happens next, I think people with sensitive stomachs should not read.

After downing the (quite delicious) lunch, I went back into the collection. Before long, I started feeling a tummy ache which I chalked to waiting too long before eating. I consulted my maps and headed towards a toilet where I promptly lost my lunch - an extremely uncommon experience for me, and I'm glad the vomit was ejected into a toilet and not in the gallery proper. So while I can now say that I have vomited in such an illustrious location, I decided it was best that I head back to the hotel....where I found Ma. Turns out she had also vomited en route to the Palace and headed back while giving Pa instructions to buy plain bread. She then gave me some pills for the upset stomach and the headache that had popped up in me....which I then ejected not long later. And then after eating some bread to get nutrients in me, that also came up. Needless to say, after a bad night in which I basically kept down neither solids nor liquids, I was wondering how we'd fly to Paris. A plus side is that because I didn't sleep well, we made it to the airport quite easily - no traffic jams and it turned out that the ride only takes 30 minutes! Also, I managed to keep down water at the airport and 50:50 apple juice - water on the plane. 

So with my thoughts of Madrid a combination of wonderful art and vicious food poisoning, next stop - Paris!

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