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Day Five: Madrid, Spain

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Dave!For an art museum whore like myself, Madrid is a dream come true.

There are several major museums within the city, and a dozen more minor ones that are brilliant in their own right. With this in mind, I have long wanted to visit Madrid, and it was on the top of my list of places to escape to after my work was finished in Cologne. Fortunately, the city is served by the ever-cheap and wonderful GermanWings airline, so off I went...

Madrid Statue
"Could somebody wipe this bird crap off my forehead?"

Anybody wanting to tag along for a very busy day of goofing around in Madrid can read about it in an extended entry...

Arriving at 7:00 last night, my airport shuttle battled its way though horrendous traffic to deposit me in the middle of the city at my hotel. Dumping off my luggage, I went on a circuit of tapas bars in the area and ate far more than I should have. I finally waddled back to my room around 9:00pm and passed out.

Now, as any tourist knows, time is the enemy while traveling.

There never seems to be enough time to do all the things you want to do. With this in mind, I had created a very dense schedule to maximize my one full day here. This master plan was quickly shot to hell upon arriving at the world-famous Prado Museum...

Madrid Prado Museum
The Prado wins my FOAD Thursday award!

This is a terrific museum filled with a brilliant assortment of classic art that simply cannot be missed. Unfortunately, it's run my complete and total dumbasses. I arrived at 9:30 (a half-hour after opening) so I can skip the opening crowds and get started. Unfortunately, the woman at the ticket window is doing some f#@%ed-up tour package paperwork shit AND MAKES US STAND THERE TWENTY F#@%ING MINUTES BEFORE SHE TAKES OUR MONEY AND LETS US IN!! I was so livid that I probably would have slapped the shit out of her if there wasn't a glass partition between us. Why the bloody f#@% can't that crap be handled at a group ticket office instead of making us wait TWENTY F#@%ING MINUTES?

I don't care how amazing the collection at The Prado is (and it IS amazing) I wouldn't go back to this f#@%ed up piece of shit museum if Depeche Mode were playing while Elizabeth Hurley gave personal tours of every Monet in existence. This is officially my worst experience at a museum yet... which says a lot considering I've been to hundreds of them.

Bottling my rage at losing 20 precious minutes, I continue down the street to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. To call their collection "eclectic" would be doing a real disservice to the brilliant diversity of the works they have in their possession. It's an all-around wonderful museum that almost made me forget the train-wreck that is The Prado.

Now that lunchtime has arrived, I continue up the street to Madrid's Hard Rock Cafe. They opened up 15 minutes late (more time down the drain), but the service and food were pretty darn good...

Madrid Hard Rock Cafe
Just in case you forget where you are, they helpfully show about 50 HRC logos out front.

Turning back down the Paseo de Recoletos, I decide to take the subway to my next destination. I head to the nearest station "Colón" but it is closed (strike one). I head across the street to enter there, only to find that the ticket machine won't accept my money. There is a booth staffed by two people, but when I approach they ignore me. I finally ask if I can buy a ticket, and they point to a sign that apparently says "F#@% Off." Thinking they must be closed, I ask IN SPANISH where I can buy a ticket. They wave me off (strike two). WHAT THE F#@%?!? I walk six blocks to the next station "Banco de Españna" but, after entering just 10 feet, my eyes are watering so bad from the smell of urine and heaven-only-knows what else that I have to turn and run out again (strike three). Holy crap! Why aren't Madrid locals demanding better of their public transportation? The only good news here is that the Plaza de Cibeles in the area is beautiful...

Madrid Plaza de Cibeles
I've decided this is how I want my pool house to look..

Left with no other choice, I have to walk to the Plaza Mayor which is the heart of Old Madrid. Unfortunately, there's crap blocking some of the amazing architecture which is a bummer...

Madrid Plaza Mayor
"This building is too pretty... let's stack tents and shit in front of it to ugly it up a bit!"

But the good news is that I could get an authentic Chicago Hot-dog if I wanted one...

Madrid Chicago Dogs
My wiener has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R...

Can anybody tell me why I keep seeing guys wearing these funky plastic hats?

Madrid Plastic Hats
"Hey, there was a guy across the street there laughing at our hats! Lets find him and beat the crap out of him!"

But eventually I made it to the spiffy-keen Royal Palace...

Madrid Royal Palace
And yet there's only one bathroom in the entire building.

Madrid Palace Interior
A tip of my funky plastic hat to the decorator...

Madrid Palace Reverse
The Catedral de la Almudena in the parking lot of the Royal Palace.

On the way to my final tourist destination of the day, I start to notice all the beautiful street signs that Madrid has plastered on the buildings. They're pretty sweet, and each one is a miniature work of art...

Madrid Signs
What, would it kill them to have a street with a monkey on it??

Quickly running out of energy after having crisscrossed the city on foot, I arrive at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (thankfully they're open until 9:00pm). It's a fairly decent modern art museum, but I'm too exhausted to enjoy it properly. Sensing that the pain in my feet and legs is reaching critical mass, I buy a Coke so I can take a Special Pill and be able to walk back to my hotel for dinner.

Unfortunately, it's then time to pack my suitcase so I can be ready to fly off to another exotic location tomorrow morning. With much sadness I bid farewell to one of my favorite shirts, which has become tattered and torn after years of faithful service...

Byeb Bye Shirt
Goodbye my faithful travel companion! You will be missed.

With my luggage packed, I set out to grab a few tapas before bedtime.

And now, after a few too many "papas bravas," I've finished blogging for the day and am ready to call it a night at 10:00pm. Sadly, in my battle with time, my ass has been pretty thoroughly kicked today. There's at least a half-dozen things I'd like to be able to do before I leave this city.

Who knows what adventures tomorrow will bring?

Categories: Hard Rock 2007, Travel 2007Click To It: Permalink


  1. kilax says:

    OMG, I love Madrid and visited most of those places when I was there. I was so sad to leave Madrid. I can’t believe you are only staying for a day! Is your next exotic location Copenhagen…? If it is, let me know – I am here for one more day 😉

  2. Avitable says:

    You should have challenged the mean Spaniards to a duel.

  3. diane says:

    Gorgeous AND entertaining. This is one of my favorite posts in awhile, but Madrid is probably largely responsible for that. (sorry Dave!) 😉

  4. RW says:

    The Flamenco…

  5. Kapha says:

    Really enjoying the virtual tours! 😀

    P.S. Those hats are freakin’ bizarre!! They’re simultaneously butt-ugly and appear to be completely non-functional for almost any task in which you would expect to use a hat (rain/sun/fashion/etc). They are strangely disorienting… perhaps that is their purpose?

  6. Vicariously following your adventures is as close as I get to travel. Thanks for always sharing the best of what you see.

  7. Stephanie P says:

    Dave, don’t let Diane get you down. I find you both gorgeous and entertaining every day!

  8. Laurence says:

    You are amazing…
    We think you are in Germany but you are in Spain !!! 🙂

    Madrid is wonderful…

  9. Jaye says:

    Oh! Brave potatoes! I had these in London for the first time. Bueno indeed!

  10. adena says:

    Can I live in your shoes for a day? (Preferably the funky batman ones…)

  11. lizriz says:

    Dude, you *have* to find out what’s up with those hats.

  12. andi says:

    The silly hats those men are wearing are likely the tricornio, the traditional hat of the Guardia Civil. It is a Spanish police force with both military and civilian functions, what is termed a gendarmerie. They typically patrol in pairs.

    Or so Wikipedia would have me believe! Hope this helps.

  13. ms. sizzle says:

    only a day in madrid? you sure packed it in! those plastic hats… i sure hope you wear that to TequilaCon.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Me again, the lurking curmudgeon, if I hadn’t married and impregnated a German citizen with a first generation German-African-American I would be so jealous of your trip. Luckily, if I’m smart, I’ll have the rest of my life (at least two trips a year) to explore in the marvelous sites you’re rushing through.

    If it hasn’t been said enough, you are pretty awesome Dave. Somehow European vacations seem to bring out the best in you. Since ‘home’ seems to hulkify your inner Mr. Crabby, why haven’t you seriously considered moving? Or, in my sporadic reading, did I miss that entry?

  15. margalit says:

    I love the prado too, but the help…well the help all over Madrid is rather, shall we say, lacking in human kindness. I had a very similar experience in the Madrid train station where people just could not seem to help me AT ALL because evidentally I was invisable.

    Madrid has never been a favorite city but Barcelona. Oh I do LOVE Barcelona. And Toledo, although it is worth going to see the church tour of Toledo to hear them talk all about how the big church used to be a synagogue but then all the Jews left… yeah, they just packed up their things and said, “You know, wandering is in our blood, maybe we’ll try to hit Holland and Eastern Europe because it’s just too warm here….” I’m telling you, I almost choked when some big mouthed New Yawka started lecturing the guide about the expulsion of the Jews in 1492… like it was a big secret in Spain. Heh.

    Did you happen to go into the pharmacia in the Royal Palace? I though that was the coolest place, all those gorgeous old bottles of weird concoctions.

    Where to next?

  16. I think that those hats are the Spanish version of Devo’s Energy Domes.

    Your pictures are breathtaking.

  17. Jeff says:

    Good thing the dude on the right is wearing those cool sunglasses. Otherwise he might look silly.

  18. Bre says:

    I’m so jealous right now I can barely type! It looks like a fabulous day, despite walking pains!

  19. Karl says:

    Wow, very cool virtual tour. I could feel your frustration at the first museum stop. I wanted to slap the lady myself. That’s good writing, buddy.

  20. Rae Rae says:

    Having lived in Madrid, I must say you did a good job of packing in as much as you could in a single day. Its a shame you haven’t more time. Barcelona is also an amazing Spanish city, with a lot of art and culture. I find it a tad more romantic than Madrid. Hopefully you can fit it in on another ‘exotic’ getaway!

  21. Alexa says:

    I love Madrid! My family and I were there over Christmas a few years ago. Awesome city!

  22. nancy says:

    Is it too selfish of me to be saying thanks for you having purchased the right camera?

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