Sunday, December 22, 2013

¡Viva España! Madrid Day 3

I woke up in a terrible sweat.  I couldn't tell if the meds were helping or not, but I really didn't feel great.  Nevertheless, I wasn't going to spend my last full day in Spain in my room.  I rose out of bed on this sunny Sunday, heading first back to Puerta del Sol.  I wanted to eat brunch at a restaurant just off the plaza, and spent the gentle stroll doing one of my favorite travel past times, people watching.  The square itself wasn't that crowded yet.  Were people sleeping off their hangovers?

One performing duo showed the levitation trick I've seen elsewhere before. They obviously had hidden a support bar under all that clothing, but I still find it cool to watch when well done.

I read many rave reviews of El Buscon, and I entered just as it opened.  The free sausage tapas that accompanied my beer were quite tasty, which was a good sign.  I ordered several dishes, and each was delicious.  I left full, happy, and feeling a bit better with food in my stomach.  This restaurant is definitely worth trying.

It was turning into a lovely day.  I debated whether to do something outdoors with my time, or check out the Prado.  I decided to walk to the Prado, and then sit outside for awhile, thus killing two birds with one stone.  It was a wise choice, as I saw an invisible lady (other than her shoes) as well as someone's doppelganger.

I liked the Prado.  I actually took a couple photos before being informed this was a no-no.  I did manage to snap this one by van Hemessen (The Surgeon) earlier.  I thought it appropriate because the patient appears to be in utter agony.  That's the way I felt at moments during the past several days, except my pain was a little lower.

I lingered in the museum much longer than I thought, because it was already nightfall when I exited.  People who know me do not think of me as an art aficionado.  They view me as an art cynic if anything.  They are right.  I consider myself fairly knowledgeable, but I generally don't go gaga over paintings or sculptures, and I've been known to smirk at those who do.  (Having said that, a few such as Michelangelo's David have literally taken my breath away.)  So why did I find the Prado so interesting?  Or the Reina Sofia the prior night?  I puzzled over this as I walked back in the night.

I was hungry, and sought out that nice last Spanish meal.  One recommended place had the famous bulls on the wall.  Umm, I just didn't feel it so I walked out.

I recalled a restaurant only a block from my hostel, the Public.  It had been absolutely packed every night that I walked by.  I decided to try it and ordered the omelet and calamares.  The meal set me back only 18 euros, but I found the decor and service much better than the food itself.  I couldn't really complain about the food, but I wished I had gone back to El Buscon instead.

I woke the next morning with mixed feelings.  I was a bit sad to be leaving Spain.  The trip had been an eye opener for me, and left me with many reasons to return.  At the same time, it was the holiday season and I was anxious to see to my family.

I took the direct and cheap metro to the airport.  Once there, United Airlines once again offered me an affordable upgrade to business class, which I immediately bought given the condition of my body.  I wasn't sure that I could actually sit in a coach seat for the duration of the trans-Atlantic flight.  As I snuggled into my bed seat soon after take off, I knew this was money very well spent.

From 30,000 feet in the air, I thought back on the past two weeks: Barcelona, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, and Madrid.  As I closed my eyes, I could still picture the Sagrada Familia, Mezquita, Alhambra and more.  I could still hear the joyful singing in the square of the Albayzin district, the laughter in the pubs and bars everywhere, and the broken Spanglish conversations I had with the many interesting people I met.  I could taste the delicious tapas and Iberian ham.  I could still see the heartfelt flamenco at Anselma, and chuckled recalling my attempts to sing along when I knew neither the lyrics nor the language.  These thoughts rattled around in my head as I drifted off to sleep.

I would have to return to Espana soon.

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