Sketches of Spain

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.commade 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.

Onward,  Malcolm