Friday, April 8, 2011

Madrid Travel Guide: We art Spain's capital

Hola Bloggy Friends,

Our last two days in Madrid have been filled with tours, parks, good food and lots and lots of art. I've said it before, but there's no overstating what a busy city this is. The streets are full (and loud) every night and, uncannily, there's a tour group lurking around every corner. I half expect someone to be leading a tour of our hotel room when we get home at night. It's a completely different feel than the other cities we visited, but we've done our best to dodge the crowds in the attempt to discover the best parts of this hustley-bustley city. And I think we've done a great job.

On Thursday, we took a tour of the Palacio Real de Madrid (the Royal Palace of Madrid). The 2000-room palace was built in 1738 by Philip V and is still used by the royal family today for occasional ceremonious functions. The tour was restricted to a fraction of the complex, including the throne room, dining room and the bedroom where King Charles III died. The best part, though, was the connecting armory where we saw the shield of Boabdil, the Moorish sultan who surrendered his throne to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela in the late 1400s. The palace itself, though, was fairly lackluster. Sure, it was grand and decorated over-the-top with sparkly chandeliers, tapestries inspired by Raphael and plush antique furniture, but,it all felt a little obvious and uninspired. Even though all of our guidebooks call it a "must-see," we feel like it's skippable. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  is more impressive.

No trip to Madrid, however, can be complete without a visit to the Museo Reina Sofia, which is what we did on our last full day in the city. This modern, four-story art house is packed with some of the twentieth century's superstar artists. Arranged chronologically instead of by artist, the layout is refreshingly easy to swallow and it provides a fascinating look at how various historical events, like World Wars I and II and the Spanish Civil War, shaped the art of that generation. The museum's biggest draw is Picasso's Guernica, a bold statement against Franco after he allowed Hitler to test his bomber jets on the small town of Guernica — killing hundreds of unsuspecting citizens and animals. This is unlike anything of Picasso's I've seen — so violent and large enough to dwarf our little South Philly row home. It was an honor to see.

And while Guernica is the most famous, there are tons of iconic images throughout the museum, including an impressive collection of works by art icons like Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. We exhausted ourselves taking in every straight line, distorted cube and surrealist landscape, but it was worth every second — definitely one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Speaking of the trip, our time in Spain has been magical. After two weeks exploring different cities, we feel that we've been able to envelop ourselves in the culture of this beautiful, proud country. We've learned so much about the history, had wonderful food and, above all, had the chance to spend this time together. It'll be an adjustment getting back to "regular life," but we're ready to be home to see our friends, talk to family and, of course, snuggle with our pets. We've missed their hearts so much.

I really appreciate you taking the time to share this experience with me. Chronicling my adventures is one of my truest pleasures, and I hope by reading them it will inspire you to get out and have some of your own. Have a muy bueno night and, once again, thanks for being a part of this with me.

Love, Josh


Bill Fogle said...

You did a really fine job of writing about your trip. I can't think of how anyone could have done better. As a result, I'm not sure whether it's just that Spain was "better" or that you really raised the bar this trip with your blogging. I have to say, though, that I am left with the impression Spain has been your best non-U.S. destination so far. I'd go to Spain before many other countries.


Bill Fogle said...

I got cut off! Thank you!

formatie nunti said...

I had the oportunity to visit Spain and Madrid 2 years ago and i was impressed, it is a beautiful city. I want so much to visit it again. Seems like you had a great trip.

travelerguy said...

Its nice to have people sharing their travelling story.Then others can make this useful info regarding places they went to guide them where to go,how to go and many more issue regarding traveling.Thanks.

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Melissa said...

Great post! You guys make a such a great couple. Very inspiring. You are gorgeous, Josh!