Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 5, 2013 - Day 4 – Madrid, Spain –Cold but no rain.
We think that the Old Couple overdid it today.  We will have to learn to pace ourselves better. 

Today we went to the Royal Palace – one of the three most opulent palaces in Europe.  The other two are Versailles and Schonbrunn.  We plan to visit Versailles on this trip, but sadly, we skipped Schonbrunn when we were on our river cruise in 2010.  The palace was pure opulence.  We couldn’t count the chandeliers of Murano glass.  Six Stradivarius instruments were in the music room valued at 15 million each.  The throne room and dining room were incredible and and it was interesting to find that the palace is used for formal dinners on a fairly regular basis.  In our world, JCS means Jesus Christ Superstar.  In Madrid, JCS stands for King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia.

Then we had tapas for lunch near the Prado Museum on Calle de Jesus, notably on Calle de Cervantes.  One of the places we visited was Cerveceria Cervantes complete with a bust of Cervantes.  We discovered why free appetizers are served with drinks.  The name tapas originated during the reign of Charles III (considered one of the best kings in the history of Spain).  People were evidently drinking too much so Charlie issued a royal decree saying that every time a drink was served in a Spanish bar, something to eat had to be served as well.  The food was originally served on top of the glass so you couldn’t drink from the glass without taking the food and eating it; therefore, tapas. 

After lunch, we went to the Prado Museum and after we’d been there a relatively short time, we realized how tired we were.  This old couple really has to realize that we can’t see and do everything we want to see and do.  We got to see paintings by Velasquez, Goya, Titian, Tintoretto, and my personal favorite: Rubens. I’ve always liked Rubens because he paints women with my body type.  It always makes me feel like Rubenesque women are back in style.  I was not as excited about the Rubens painting “Saturn Eating His Son”, but art is in the eye of the beholder.  By the time we got back to the hotel, we could both barely walk.  So we took a nap and went out for dinner at about 9pm – late by American standards – early by Spanish custom.  Madrilenos are out in force at night in Madrid.  They are eating, drinking, walking, and having a wonderful time.  It reminds me of New York City at night.  We had more wine, more tapas, and ice cream for dessert. 

We were surprised by the number of beggars on the street corners and the number of homeless persons sleeping in doorways.  I guess the problem is universal. 

Pictures: 1. Bill  as a  royal palace guard; 2. Kathie at the Royal Palace, 3. Madrid on a typical Thursday night, 4. Royal Palace, 5. Royal Palace Gardens, 6. Cervantes Bar Sign

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