Anne is so good at writing down a recap of the day right away, so here she is again(I’ll add some pictures as I sit here eating my sandwich from the “museum of ham, and shall add a few notes of my own in italics.)
So we had our second day in Madrid today. Another cold morning & definitely hard to get up after a good, busy day in Toledo. My calves are burning, knees are creaking & my feet are sore but my tummy, my eyes & my brain are happy. I agree. My feet are goners, but we have the hotel spa with it’s hydro thermal circuit to sustain us.
So we arrived in Madrid abt 10am & went straight to the Prado museum. A decent wait to buy tkts but well worth it. We could have spent a day in the museum & still not seen everything. As it was we focused on the highlights which were pretty awesome: Goya, el Greco, Rubens, Caravggio, etc. We saw lots of biblical scenes, hence lots of beheadings, Madonna & baby, various deaths of the Saints then there were the depictions of various battles & Saturn devouring his son. Lots of gore for a Thu AM. My favorite was the adoration of the Magi, by Rubens. No beheading there, but am in agreement, a lot of rough religious imagery in that joint, some much so that a painting of a huge and lavishly dressed crowd, celebrating the beheading of John the baptist was relegated to the elevator lobby.
After having coffee & a sweet (shock!), we headed to the markets we’d seen on Tue including the place where they sell all the wigs. Naturally, I bought 2 (more) & also a chimney hat w/ Santa’s feet sticking out. I now own a pink Heidi pigtail wig, a long curly green/black haired wig, a yellow & red afro (colors of Spanish flag) & the Santa hat. Surely money well spent. And just so you know rons of ppl were wearing these wigs & hats. Some even older than 10. Apparently it’s a big New Year’s thing.
We then headed off in search of lunch. We went to the San Miguel market which is similar in many ways to Pike Place market in Seattle or Eastern Market in DC. They have lots of counter where you can order everything from plates of ham & cheese to empanadas, croquettes, & more. You can even get a squid sandwich which isn’t as gross as it sounds (basically fried calamari on bread). You can also get a glass of wine which makes it fun, festive & very crowded.
Back to Plaza Mayor to people watch then off to a place called Chocolateria San Gines for hot chocolate & churros (fried “sticks” of dough kind of like funnel cake). It was as delicious as it sounds. The hot chocolate is thick like the stuff in Italy & fabulous. The place was packed with families & singles alike. They apparently do a booming business from 3-6am when the clubs close & everyone goes in search of a late night/early morning snack before the sun comes up (when they sleep I’ll never know). They close only from 6:30-9:30AM. I’m assuming that’s to get the drunks out & clean up before the business ppl & families show up.
We then walked to the Puerta del Sol which was packed for 4:30 on a Thu. There were tons of “characters” walking around. We saw Mickie & Minnie Mouse, a lady covered in fruit, a mime, SpongeBob, Capt Jack Sparrow, one of the Mario Bros & even Buzz Lightyear. Along with those there were assorted “statues” that if you threw a few coins in a cup, they would come to life. We saw a street sweeper, a goat, a giant spider, a Wookie, some kind of alien, a very good King Neptune who would blow his horn for a few eurocents & Eleanor’s favorite, a baby with a giant man head that cried & kicked his “feet” for coins. awesome, but I did feel a little bad about making a grown man perform for coins, even if he was dressed like a baby, and frankly, very good at his job.
It was late so we headed toward the train station w/ a quick stop for a “to go” sandwich at the Museo del Jamon (literally Museum of Ham) where they had a jillion different types of ham. There was even a picture menu where you could choose what you wanted. I’m still full from my chocolate & churros so I passed on the sandwich. I’ll have a yogurt & bicarbonate when we’re back at the hotel.
It’s our last trip on the really terrific Spanish train system. It’s on time, clean, quiet, smooth & a really nice ride. Wish Amtrak (even the Acela) were half as nice as this! I’ll miss riding the train for sure.
Tomorrow’s our last day in Toledo so we’re batting clean up & trying to do all the things we missed in the previous days including getting Marzipan from the Convent, seeing the Synagogue Museum, Mosque & eating at the Parador. Should be a plenty full day! I can’t wait to buy marzipan from the convent. Apparently some have a lazy Susan turnstile type of thing, where you put in your money and then they send you the marizipan with out showing their faces. It is also possible we will need to say “Ave Maria purisima” ” hail purest Mary” in order to seal the deal. Too cool!