Madrid 2020 – Day 2

FEBRUARY 8, 2020 : The day started with Michal and Tamar snuggled in the cold in my bed – listening to what I had written about the day before. They were very encouraging and thus – here comes a description of the next day.

It was cold in the apartment and the radiators were not turning on – after a phone call to the landlord we learned how to work the controls – sort of.

We made kiddush, had breakfast and left the apartment in the direction of the Prado museum. If yesterday we turned left when leaving the building, today we turned right. The busy commercial area that we are staying in quickly turned into a mostly residential area – full of pastel apartment buildings, each with its own intricately patterned ironwork in front of each window balcony. Typically European.

We quickly reached the Prado – where we spent more than an hour looking at paintings from the early masters – Goya, Rubens, etc. We learned that unlike other major museums, like the Louvre or the British Museum, the Prado is only paintings. In addition, none of the paintings were stolen from other countries – everything in the museum was commissioned by the Spanish royalty. What struck me most was one huge, very non-typical painting that was of an inquisition trial. In the painting you clearly see the Jewish looking (men with beards) awaiting their sentencing. The painting took place in Plaza Mayor – the large plaza near our apartment. From now on, each time we stroll through the plaza, I look at the place very differently. It’s not as nice.

After the Prado, we planned to go to the Tyson museum – but there was a demonstration blocking the traffic circle that we needed to cross. Many woman were standing arms locked, many holding purple umbrellas and shouting – I tried to find in the news what they were demonstrating about – but did not see it mentioned in the English Spain News.

So instead of tackling another museum we decided to continue to Parque del Retiro – the huge park behind the Prado. The park is beautifully laid out, both with formal gardens and more natural areas. There was a lake with many people in rowboats. The park was full of various musicians – a man on bagpipes, an accordionist, a jazz ensemble, a saxophonist. During our picnic lunch we were serenaded by a violist. Lunch was on a bench in front of the lake in front of the Crystal Palace.

After lunch we decided we would do one more museum, and opted to go to the Reina Sophia museum. This took us into a part of the city we had not yet explored. On the way we passed a plaza with a row of many book stalls.

At the Reina Sophia, which is a collection of more modern works of art – we went to the second floor that houses some works of Dali and Picasso. The highlight is the huge mural by Picasso – Guernica – which we learned was painted as a result of the bombing attack on mostly woman and children in Guernica by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of the Spanish Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. The suffering is vividly portrayed.

We exited the museum to discover it had been raining while we where inside. Now the rain had stopped, and we made our way up Calle de Atocha towards home. We walked through another quaint neighborhood, full of both narrow and wide street, small shops and restaurants lining the streets.

Back at the apartment, Tamar and I took our Shabbat rests. Michal in the meantime went to the Salamanca neighrbood – an upscale residential neighborhood a bit northwest of where we were staying – to do some shopping at Uniqulo.

When Michal returned, we had first dinner – a salad meal. Once Shabbat was out, we took off once again. If Porto du Sol had been crowded before, it was now super crowded – shoulder to shoulder people bustling about. We went south to explore the La Latina neighborhood. The plan was to go to a market there, and then on to Pura Vida – a highly recommended vegan restaurant in the same area. As we approached the market, we started to feel a bit uncomfortable – walking in an area without street lights and unlike the more popular areas, with hardly any people on the road. We decided to skip the market and head straight to the restaurant. Not having reservations, we took seats at the bar. Michal had a vegan burger (good but not the best), while Tamar had croquettes and I had nachos. A glass of sangria left my head spinning and made the walk home difficult. Before returning to the apartment we stopped in at El Corte Inglés department store on the Puerto del Sol. There we looked at adorable 150 euro jackets for infants, 65 euro dresses for girls, etc. – beautiful designer clothes to look at, but not to buy.

We entered the apartment and were all fast asleep soon after. Day two done.