Despite having the week off, the last minute packing after 1 1/2 walk around the canal and lunch with Alie proved to be a tight squeeze to get the the train to Birmingham airport.
After arriving at Madrid and with just 2 metro changes I was off walking up the street that I had researched on Google maps to find my Airbnb accommodation. Up on the 6th floor via the lift. Inside was just as I expected from the friendly host. A nice small room. No sooner that I was in at around 23:00, than I was out out again on James’ recommendations to a small restaurant only a 5 minute walk. A mojito, beef carpaccio, goats cheese and guacamole salad followed by some very tender veal cheek and a coffee before bed time.What a great start.
Despite my intentions to rise early and make the most of the day by getting to the grand Prado museum 30 minutes beforehand,in order to beat the queue. It did not turn out like that at all. I decided to live like a local and just take it easy and as it comes. Breakfast was provided by the host, coffee, toast and muesli. I was out eventually by 10:00 and had a lovely walk through the streets to the Prado. The first thing that hits you is the European architecture, tall 5 and 6 floor apartment blocks. Fantastic fronts with intricate iron balconies and shutters to keep out the fierce heat of the summer. Everybody leaves in July and August due to the heat. I made it to the Prado and found only a very only small queue. I bought the guidebook and started wandering. What a fantastic museum/gallery. Art from 15th century onwards, lots of Spanish as well as European art. Lots of Goya and some superb still life pictures. I spent a good 3 hours there taking it all in. Eventually, I left aiming to come back later for the free session between 18:00 and 20:00. I then heeded to Retiro park for a well earned rest. A nice coffee overlooking the boating lake before a leisurely wander around the park. All the chestnut trees were in bloom along with a few others. The strong vibrant energetic spring green was the order of the day.
I then decided to have a wander round the exclusive Salamanca district, where the Bentley garage is along with a plethora of designer cloth and jewellery shops. Very smart indeed. For lunch I headed to Jose Luis. Quite a way up Serrano street, but almost worth the walk. I think I ordered the wrong item on the menu, so it was not as good as I was expecting. A rest and enjoyable none the less. As it was quite a walk and public transport is well organised and very cheap, I got a bus back down to Independence square. I then wandered down Calle de Alcala and then onto a cake cafe on Calle de ruinas de alarm on. Lovely apple tart on sweet flaky pastry and a coffee to wash it down.
As it was still light and having consulted the guidebook I headed down to the botanical garden. A very pleasant hour viewing the early spring flowers, tulips, pansies as well as others that are starting to bloom.
I then queued for 30 minutes for free access to the Prado. I had left the basement floor until last. A great hour wondering the masters, including Bosch’s earthly delights . Very old but very modern and contemporary. Goodness knows what drugs he was on when he painted it. Very jaw dropping considering what else was being painted at the same time. I was thrown out at 20:00 along with everybody else and started my walk back. I got as far as Circulo de bellas artes. Here I had a well earned refreshing mojito and watched the world go by.
I consulted the guidebook and made my decision on where to eat base on my route back. So it was off on a quick 10 minute walk to El communists cafe, only to discover it was closed and had changed hands. Consulting the guidebook again I went to Ggovina 16 Azusa cafe, mushrooms and egg, lamb chops, olives, cheeses and lost of red wine all for €40. I nice stroll back to the accommodation before bed, and I was out like a light, very very tired but very very satisfied indeed.