plenty of exploring amidst the crowds and in good weather.
On Tuesday morning we started out by visiting a bakery / café called The Brown Bear–a bear is the symbol of Madrid. We have gone there several times on past visits because it is in the district where we stay and has good food, including an “authentic” New York brunch on weekends. We were happy that it survived Covid but we were not happy with the service we got (surly) nor with the food. It was a disappointment.
Here is a travel tip that everyone but me remembers: before you head for a museum, check on which days it is open. I did not do that before we left for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofia). Why would I check? It was Tuesday and what museum is closed on Tuesday? Well, I now know of at least one. It was a nice walk in bright sun and mostly downhill. When we got to the entrance and none of the doors were open, I belatedly looked at the opening hours. Yup, closed on martes (Tuesday).
To temporarily avoid the long walk back up the hill, we decided to walk to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, another great art museum we have visited before. Yes, before we left Reina Sofia, I checked the opening hours for the Thyssen. The way to the Thyssen from the Reina Sofia is flat and passes the Prado Museum. The sidewalks were packed and the going was slow. There was no crowd at the entrance to the Thyssen and we were able to get in quickly.
We really like this museum. It is less overwhelming than the Prado and it covers many centuries of art, mostly paintings. We usually begin with the oldest paintings, some of which date back to the 1300s. We have favorites, of course, and we saw many of them this time. When one examines the guide, it seems possible, in theory, to visit each room and to see everything. [Note: the guides and menus in most of the museums and bars / cafés / restaurants have been replaced by QR codes and the guides have to be downloaded to your phone. No more paper guides to mark up.] After a couple of hours, we realized, once again, that we were not going to be able to see everything, so we skipped from the 1700s to the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a great visit.
We could no longer avoid the uphill trek. We stopped at the apartment to drop off our coats and rest for a few minutes before having a late lunch at a Mexican food restaurant just around the corner. Their food is from different regions of Mexico and they even have a certificate for some entity in Mexico declaring that their food is authentic. This is another place we have eaten before and been pleased with. The food is good and reasonably priced, but again we were disappointed with the surly service and probably won’t go back.
I mentioned that the sidewalks were busy while we were walking during the day. I was wrong. They might as well have been empty in comparison to the streets when we went out abound 8 in the evening. The streets were packed as were many of the outside cafés. We solved that problem by eating our ice cream inside the ice cream shop rather than trying to eat while walking.
Wednesday morning it was 36 degrees at around 8 am. We decided to wait for it to warm up a bit before finding a place for desayuno (breakfast). We found a place a few blocks away and had a nice, simple, inexpensive meal made more pleasant by cheerful service. We have another candidate for tomorrow that is even closer to the apartment.
After ensuring that the Reina Sofia was not closed on both martes AND miercoles, we walked to the museum and spent a pleasant and informative couple of hours. The art there is more modern, for the most part, than at the Thyssen and the Prado. The exhibits are not all paintings, either. Two of the floors were temporarily closed, but there is no way we could have visited everything anyway. We spent time in several rooms that were devoted to the rise of the modern industrial city. Several of the rooms had movies from the early 20th century showing stages of city growth. We also saw quite a few works by surrealists and cubists such as Dali and Picasso.
In case you were wondering, we were unable to avoid the walk back uphill. I think I had forgotten how relatively high our area is, because it seems like we do a lot of walking up hills. It may sound like all we do is walk from the apartment to restaurants and ice cream places and museums, but I assure you that there is plenty to see as we are out. We can’t go 20 steps before Patricia finds something in a store window to look at or I see a candidate for another picture.
Early this evening we walked through the Plaza del Sol to El Corte Inglés, which is a large department store. On the 9th floor they have a food court and a great view of the city. It will not surprise you to learn that we had ice cream while we sat there for a while.
Tonight we are staying in and having snacks of jamón ibérico, cheese, crackers, and wine while we watch soccer. There is a big match between Real Madrid and Liverpool. There is a bar downstairs that has a large screen and there will be a crowd to watch the match. We plan to open the window so we can participate vicariously with the crowd.
I added some pictures from Madrid to the pictures page. Captions to follow.
Below is a map of where we walked on Wednesday.