Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Where Have I Been?

On Sunday, April 24, I left on a trip to Spain, fully intending to blog along the way. I even knew of an Internet cafe around the corner from my hotel in Madrid. And from the get-go, I had blog-worthy material, in my head at least. But the EasyInternetCafe in Madrid was no longer in business and between not finding computers to use and being too exhausted to seek one out, well I never did any Spain Bloggin.'

I have now been back for nearly a week, and while this somehow seems unnecessary, for history's sake I'm going to recap my trip as best as I remember.

On the morning Monday, April 25, I arrived in Madrid. Upon arriving at my hotel -- Hotel Europa at the Puerto del Sol, a central area in the city, kind of like a Times Square or Picadilly Circus -- and checking in, I went to the attached cafeteria and saw Rick Steves, the guy who writes the tour books that I utilize. I chatted with him briefly and went on my way. On the first day, still kind of groggy, I went to two art museums and a palace. One real highlight was seeing Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia Museum.

Tuesday was a day trip from Madrid to Toledo, a beautifully preserved city with lots of El Greco paintings. I must've seen over 50.

Wedneday began with the Prado in Madrid, a truly miraculous art museum, followed by another one. I went to a dance concert at night just to see the Teatro Real. Nice theatre, but boy was it boring. Afterward, I went to Cafe Botin, supposedly the oldest restaurant in the world (from 1752) and said to be a favorite of Hemingway's. The specialty of the house is roast suckling pig, which of course, I had to try.

Thursday, an opulently decorated old convent and a bullfighting museum. Then a flight to Bilbao. Just walking around along the river at night, seeing Gehry's Guggenheim, Calatrava's bridge and more may have been the most enjoyable time of my whole trip. The city just seemed vibrant and alive.

Friday, I actually went to the Guggenheim, where the collection paled in comparison to the building itself. Then another museum in Bilbao and more exploring.

Saturday to Barcelona. First some strolling through the big park, then to the Picasso museum. Then across town and up Montjuic to see the Miro museum and the Olympic area from 1992. My first visit to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's masterful unfinished church, came that night. Pretty amazing.

Sunday I went back to Sagrada Familia and climbed the stairs as high as you can. Then to two other Gaudi masterpieces, Casa Mila and Casa Battlo.

Monday, walking down the Ramblas, walking along the beach and going to Gaudi's Park Guell. At night, a concert by a group called Madredeus, who played sleepy guitar music with vocals. Got to see the spectacular Catalan Music Hall.

Tuesday, a flight to London. Got there mid-Afternoon. Caught an hour of a Caravaggio exhibit at the National Gallery, then saw a stage version of Mary Poppins, the hot show in London at the moment.

Wednesday, fly home.

Following Tuesday, here I am.

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