What a birthday present! My wife gave me a week with my daughter Scout who is studying in Madrid this semester. Having just returned, here’s my Top-10 List – no particular order – of my favorite memories:
1) Retiro Park – I ran this 4+- mile loop every day. The entire park is beautifully manicured throughout. One of the gardens even features a flock of peacocks strutting their stuff in full regalia.
2) Guernica – I studied Picasso’s masterpiece in college, but the textbook version pales in comparison with the real thing: all 12 feet X 26 feet of it! Guernica’s home, the Reina Sofia, has all sorts of treasures by the likes of Picasso, Dali, and Miro.
3) Museo del Prado – Just around the corner from the Reina Sofia lies the elegant home to some of the older masters: e.g., Goya, Velazquez, Rubens, Bosch. If I were to rank the sites of Madrid according to the ones Madrilenos thought I just shouldn’t miss, the Prado would probably be Numero Uno.
4) Knowing that my daughter has class in the Prado… 2 times a week.
5) Tapas… the real thing. What a great way to eat!
6) Mama Chon – My daughter’s house mother. Her special and authentic Paella recipe, prepared especially for me as her honored guest, was truly heaven on a plate!
7) Walking – We. Walked. Everywhere. My new Keen hiking boots and Heel-That-Pain inserts — www.heel-that-pain.com – made it all possible.
8) The Metro – Safe, prompt, clean (!) underground public transportation, with stations in every neighborhood. I didn’t step inside a car or cab until my return trip to the airport. Suffice it to say that America’s cities would do well to check out Madrid’s system.
9) Scout’s Spanish – Her ease of accent and interaction with friends, shop keepers, waiters, and strangers blew me away.
10) Real Madrid – We had great seats for a game with Levante, a team based in Valencia. As exciting as the game was, I will never forget watching the pre-game warm-ups complete with full-volume opera music piping over the stadium sound system. I saw why soccer is called “The Beautiful Game.”
Well, now I’ve been to Spain. I kinda’ like the music… and a whole lot of other things.