I hate to just jump in here without any preface, but such is life along with my half-hearted commitment to blog-writing, I suppose. I have been traveling in Spain (!), and given that I am Facebook-averse, this spot seems a good one to share a few photos (and – bonus! – you won’t have to look through every single picture I’ve taken) (that said, you know I tend to be wordy, and I can’t promise that goes away when I start telling stories with pictures).
Also – apologies ahead of time if I sound a bit spacey. I’m trying to keep up in Spanish, and then I spent an evening with French-speakers the other night, and amidst all of the translation in my head and my own slow and simple speech, I appear to be losing my capacity for English.
Okay, so, here’s what I’ve done so far…
Here’s the first thing I saw when I walked up from the Gran Via Metro stop:
Since I couldn’t check into my hotel for another 4 hours, I dropped off my bag and took a walk. Here are some trees in Retiro Park:
On the streets of Madrid:
I thought this was the Palace when I saw it coming around the corner (I was getting close to the Palace anyway), but now I’m pretty sure it’s the Cathedral of Almudena. Or not. I did not tour it (nor the Palace, in the end), but I particularly enjoyed seeing it from the street.
Mostly, I got lost a lot in Madrid. A lot. The streets are all twisty and turny, and while I am quite happy with the advice I’ve gotten on this trip from Rick Steves, I think he could use a hand in the cartography department. My first night in the city, walking back to the hotel with Frank and Jean Francois, we knew we were getting close because we recognized this statue. Only, then I saw this statue in the daylight, and it was not very close to our hotel at all.
Flamenco! This show was awesome, although my pictures are not (they were moving so fast!). A note from my guidebook: “Since this is for locals as well as tour groups, the flamenco is contemporary and may be jazzier than your notion – it depends on who’s performing.” Perhaps I will be better able to compare after I get to Sevilla. In any case, the singing and dancing were amazing, and it was so intimate – it made me feel like I would be a ballet fan if the dancers were ever this close. I met Brits Claire and the 2 Sues (hi, ladies!) in line and we had a fun time drinking sangria and chatting about the show.
The very center of Spain, kilometer 0, across the street from Puerta del Sol:
The next day, I went to the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, where the Guernica was more moving than I expected it to be, and I took this picture of Picasso’s L’homme au Mouton. (Or maybe that was a reproduction, given the link I just referenced…?) Perhaps the Guernica comment needs explaining, and yet, I don’t really feel like getting into the whole thing right now; I will say that I am reading Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station while traveling, and it’s particularly comforting when the camera-toting tourists (myself among them) get to be a bit overwhelming. Also, my day at the Prado was crap (but do read that link before you let my concise review deter you).
… and then I went to Cordoba. Here’s the patio where I ate lunch yesterday:
There were a guitar player and violinist playing in the corner, whose music convinced me to step inside and give the place a try. Then I went to the Mezquita:
Here’s a view inside the mosque portion of the building:
Nice, right? Here’s a shot inside the part that is the current cathedral:
Back to the mosque part (oops, I was kind of all over the place). This is the ceiling above the mihrab:
After the Mezquita, I took a long walk around Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter.
The whole city seems to smell like orange blossoms, which is particularly nice after Madrid, which smelled like sewer gas. (Travel tip: those drain covers aren’t just for show, a lesson I learned after coming home to a very stinky hotel room.)
The streets in the old part of the city are beautiful.
This part of the city is known (in part) for its patios – many homes have a central courtyard, which you can peek into from the street.
The statue of Maimonides:
Have I mentioned the dogs already? This is the strangest thing – all over Madrid and Cordoba, people are walking their dogs without leashes. I want to run up and ask every one of them, “How do you do it???“, but I can’t, because I only know how to say things like, “Donde estan los servicios?,” and, “Un tinto, por favor”. Sigh. They make me miss my puppies, though.
Today, I went to the Casa de Sefarad:
And then I had te de bedouin at Salon de Te, near my hotel. (Oh, I hate people who take pictures of their food! I am such a tourist. I did refrain from pulling out the camera at lunch, but it was tempting because I had the most delicious salmorejo, con jamon y heuvos – yum!)
The patio at Salon de Te:
After lunch, I came back to my hotel room and wrote this post, which actually took a lot longer than I expected (but given the tea and sleeping late today, I didn’t need my daily nap after all).
In closing, this is pretty much my hairdo for the next two weeks. (Hey, would-be burglars: my roommate and my dogs are at home, so don’t get any ideas.) I could say more about the hair thing, but then I would really sound like an American tourist.