Sunday, July 28, 2013

Madrid Es Muy Bueno

In other words, I loved Madrid. It is different from the other European capitals I've visited: more laid back, less crowded, very easy to sight see or just hang out.

I hate it when people make you look at all 300 of their vacation photos, so I'll just share a few pics from my trip.

Madrid is a beautiful city with elegant multi-story buildings. Here is a view of Gran Via, the major street in the city:

You cannot visit Madrid without admiring the famous Plaza Mayor:

We took a day trip to the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a palace and monastery in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 km northwest of Madrid. It's plain exterior belies the rich beauty within.

The perfect place for a hot summer afternoon is the Retiro, a large park complete with boating:

You could not find a better city for visiting art museums than Madrid. The Prado, pictured below, has a stunning collection, including works by Spanish masters Velazquez and Goya. Spain once ruled Flanders, so there is a stunning selection by Hieronymus Bosch and Rubens. I could have spent days there, but had to make time to see see Picasso's Guernica, his anti-war mural at the Reina Sofia and the eclectic but fascinating collection at the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza.

Of course, the best things about any travels are the people. I owe thanks for this trip to my brother Eric and his girlfriend Nancy. Nancy was teaching in Madrid for the month of July and they graciously shared their apartment with me. I had so much fun hanging out with them.

I was lucky to have these two companions. Robbie, on the left, is Nancy's son. Theo is my nephew. They are both fun to be with. And very patient. They didn't complain when I wanted to check out some boutiques!

Nancy's friend Ruchi, who she met when she lived The Hague joined us for a few days. She cooked us some amazing meals from her native India.

 Ruchi's son, Rudy, is Robbie's age. They met in school many years ago in The Hague. He's eating (well, we were all eating) Churros con Chocolate, a Madrid favorite. I'm not sure that you could find anything more delicious and less healthy: The chocolate is thick, rich and pudding-like, and the churros are light and crisp, due to being deep fried! You dip the churro into the chocolate and enjoy!

 And one night we went out to dinner with Raffa and his family. Raffa was an exchange student who stayed with my family. I had left home by then, but I've seen enough of him over the years to treasure his friendship. Here we all are, including Raffa and his family but not Nancy (who took the photo):

This was my first trip to Europe since 1986. Why did I wait so long? I'd forgotten how exhilarating it is to visit a place that is so different from the States.

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