Dec 21-My life as an impromptu guide in a foreign city…
I’m not sure how it happened, but I found myself being the tour guide armed with nothing more than a map in a city that I had been in for less than 24 hours. What can I say - strange things happen in my life.
So off we went (the 3 J’s: Jane, Joanne and myself) towards the museums. My heart was set on Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which is the modern art museum. But there were also the Museo del Prado and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in the vicinity. Together, these three museums make up the Golden Triangle of Art. Thankfully the Reina Sofía would be open the next day, so we didn’t have to rush through this and the Prado.
The Prado is free on Sundays, but after 5pm. With that in mind, there was plenty of time to see some other sites. First up was a leisurely stroll through Parque del Buen Retiro. It was packed. Runners, families with strollers, cyclists, buskers, food stands…it seemed like the entire city had come out to the park. At one end of the park where we had entered, there were little book shacks one next to the other piled high with books of all varieties. Plenty of people were sifting through each of these stands, some staggering under the weight from the number of books they were carrying. This was probably one of my favourite people watching areas in Madrid.
Too bad the Palacio de Cristal was closed. This would have been a great place to walk inside and photograph. Instead, I pressed my nose against the class to peer in at a large, empty glass enclosure…just like all the children did. When we made our way to the other end of the park, it was a long, long…incredibly long walk along Paseo de la Castellana to Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre. But it was well worth it see this. Located under a bridge, sculptures from various masters are on display and seemingly blend into the surroundings. The great part about this was that this was this location was used quite frequently by skateboarders. I think we were there a bit too early in the day b/c there were only a couple of skateboarders, but they weren’t doing too much.
From here, it was a longish walk back to the centre of the city to find some sustenance. Then it was off to the Prado, considered one of the greatest art galleries with some 6000 pieces including Rembrandt, Goya, Velázquez and others. While the line to get in was quite long, it was also moving steadily. Good thing too as it was starting to get chilly. Once inside, I felt like I had walked into a sauna and was slowly being roasted alive. Aren’t museums supposed to be cool with low humidity to preserve the art? Anyhoo, this was certainly not my cup of tea and I was very glad that we hadn’t paid to see this. It was excruciating at times, just b/c it really isn’t the type of art that I like. For some, it was absolute bliss. I was quite happy when I was able to walk outside and breathe again. And with that, I had great expectations for the Reina Sofía on the following day.
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