An earlier start then the previous day and having read the guidebook and worked out how the coffee machine works.
One museum they told me not to miss was the American museum. Looking at the map it was only a quick 20 minute walk through the delightful local residential streets of 6 story apartments. Seeing all the local stores preparing for the day and wondering who their clientele would be was quite intriguing. After walking along the old tram track I walked up the steps to the museum.
What a fabulous place. It covers all aspects of the conquest as well as touching on the land link between Alaska and Siberia. Religious conversion and slavery as well as torture. Indigenous ethnographic as well as religious items. A fantastic display of gold. A very well curated museum. However, it does raise the questions, do we have the right to go around the world and tell people they are now owned by us and you shall stop doing those things and start doing these things as well as religious conversion? It does make you think about Great Britain’s imperial past. Food for deeper thought.
Next to the museum is a weird shaped tower. My host had advised me to go as there are excellent views over the city looking south eastwards. It was only €4 but with more security to go through. Quite a running theme that gives you confidence. Though still overcast the views from the top were pretty impressive. Pity I could not go outside. From up high I could see my next port of call which would be the Moncloa Metro. In order to save time and my legs I thought the bargain price of €1.5 was quite in order. Swift, clean and safe, as long as you keep all your belongings on your lap. Coming to the surface at Sol was a shock, from the relative quiet of the American Museum and the tower. Very busy with lots of people.
Lunch was spent at the aptly named museum of ham, that I happened upon quite by accident. Iberia special (ham and cheese) and a beer of course. Stood at the bar with the regulars, there was a very bustling and busy atmosphere.
Suitably refreshed I walked to Plaza Santa Anna, a very relaxed square where I had a coffee and a read of the guidebook to see where to head next. Madrid feels very photogenic to me. The European architecture and great windows and balconies just wanting to be photographed. As do a lot of other things. A very metropolitan feel. Lots of small attractions but no outstanding feature or centre. The street signs are a work of art with the wide tree lined avenues set out on a grid formation it makes for easy navigation and pleasant walking. Not many closed shops or huge national franchises. Admittedly, the big us corporations are here. However, lots of small shops selling goods to local people. A country of shop/bar/taverna/restaurant owners. Very nice to see.
I then made a small tour of other plazas on the way to plaza mayor. Mainly a huge tourist attraction now, but historically significant none the less. Very symmetrical, lost of cafes and street performers and tourists of course.
A quick deliberation of the map and I was on my way to Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales. However, it was closed. More luck tomorrow.
No trip to Madrid would be complete without a walk down Gran Via. A wide thoroughfare, with lots of fine shops where it would be all to easier to spend lots of money.
A quick reference to the map and it was down to Plaza de las Cortes for a well earned coke, a break before the next cultural extravaganza at the Thyssen museum. I arrived just in time on the hour to see the figurine display on the old post office opposite. With all the bells it was very enjoyable
The Thyssen museum/gallery is brilliantly curated. With explanations in English, not always the case in Madrid museums. Starting on the top floor with the oldest works 15th century iconography all the way forward to Bacon, Rothko and Freud I was there for nearly three hours, an excellent follow up to Prado. Not as many works but the ones they did have were top notch. Thank you Mr Thyssen. It was then back to Plaza de las Cortes for beer .
There was nothing for it after the cultural overload than the Retiro park for some well earned relaxation and of course an ice cream whilst watch the promenading, skating, and rowing, etc…
I was feeling pretty tired by now so I headed back to the plaza near the accommodation to savour the local atmosphere with a beer and write this blog up. Followed by another delicious trip to La Cana restaurant, beer, mojito, Pate with a red wine reduction followed by Iberian pork chops with a very home made tomato sauce a creme brûlée to finish with a coffee to wash it all down with. Marvellous
What a fabulously delightful, educational, relaxing, rewarding, interesting day indeed.