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Bit By Bit Spending some months in Europe. Let's see how it goes... Check ya later, Barry.

While You Were Still in the US, we were wandering Madrid.

USA | Monday, 8 February 2010 | Views [258] | Comments [4]

"We should have gotten luggage with wheels," Rebecca tells Michael as she watches everyone go skating by, effortlessly maneuvering their own bags with only the inconvenience of bending a few fingers. 

Sometimes it feels like shouting at the top of our lungs: what were we thinking?!?  And then something amazing happens, like just being in Madrid.  Allow the record to show that "Madrid" refers to Puerta del Sol, a section of Madrid. Downtown Madrid is just no good- we did a short sweep of it after realizing we were going to be at the train station for eight hours.  

There are so many differences between Lisbon and Madrid that eventually we stopped trying to figure them out, or even disclose them.  After all, we are doing this to know other places, and we have tried to strike "weird" from our vocabulary (more or less when it comes to a cultural surprise, as it seems we can't stop using it in reference to one another).  But Madrid is a real joy.  Easy to be in, beckoning and beautiful, there is just so much craziness and charm packed on all sides.  A tall city in itself, with everyone living on top of each other in old fasioned buildings, tall windows opening to the world below; cafes upon cafes, sometimes a whole street just cafes. 

The colors are of brick and bronze, statues accenting any open square.  Everywhere people are sitting at the tables which line the walks, sipping on their miniature size coffees (portions here are so much smaller than from where we come from.  The largest is smaller than our smallest).  The style is amazing, comfortable and classy.  Most people wear leather jackets or fur coats, converse shoes or high heels.  The girls wander about in short skirts/dresses, the whole outfit organized around their leggings of every style and color.  Despite the height of the buildings (you never know what's coming until you turn the corner) a surprisingly strong, chilly wind picks up all sorts of scents and stings the ears.

Things are slow in Madrid.  We wonder where the people must work, as the streets and cafes are constantly filled.  Everyone loves to shop, there is an endless supply of it. It takes just as long to get our check after eating as it does to acually get the food and pack it away.  People amble slowly, like there is no purpose to the moving other than the moving itself.  There are hostels everywhere- sometimes three on top of each other.  Sometimes three in a row.  No less than one on every street.  It was a pain when we first got here, up and down those stairs to find the right place.  Two flights of stairs for this one, three for the next.  We found the right place with Felix at Hostel R Fernandez.  Before we could even ask, he mentioned that he had "wiffy" (turned out to be a real crappy connection, but better than nothing).  It was fun figuring out the right words with him.  During our initial conversation we went back and forth from a calender, he drew on his hand, we waved money around, and at one point he begged with his fingers pinched together if we knew just a litle bit of Spanish.   

We got to Madrid after a ten hour train ride from Lisbon, sleep-induced by a glorious generic blue pill (thanks to Uncle Bob and Aunt Deb who keep the fam supplied via Perrigo).  As soon as we found the right room we conked out for about an hour and a half.  We showered, we went to find some food, and wandered around.  Just as things were getting crazy outside, people kick-starting their weekend true to reputation, we settled in with a movie rental from iTunes.

The next day we weren't playing around. Despite a late start, we managed to be on our feet for the next eight hours.  Of course we started out by going in the wrong direction and finding where we would need to be that evening, and then back-tracking in order to head to the right place. Along the way we stopped in a plaza famous for it's street performers and architecture.  We took a lot of pictures, and several videos (which will be posted on our youtube sight, which is also 00bitbybit00, which can be found by typing it in the search address).  We visited the palace (Palacio Real), marveling at artifacts from the 1700s.  It is hard to imagine something existing from that long ago, being touched by another's hands, used to wait on some human deity.  Next to the palace is a cathedral (Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena).  Now, we were both fairly certain that we had never been in a palace, as we were pretty impressed; but once we stepped foot in the cathedral we knew for a fact it was our first in that department.  Only pictures can do it justice.

From there we stopped at a little place called the Chocolateria. Of everything we had seen, Rebecca had her eye on that place since we first arrived.  And all because of a little thing called chocolate.  The idea is to order it, and it comes as a drink, where you are supposed to dip all sorts of deep-fried delights offered (specifically churros).  Rebecca wanted the beverage, and only the beverage, and only pictures can do this justice as well.  Michael spiced it up and got an Irish coffee, which wound up being whiskey flavored by a shot of coffee and topped with whipped cream.  He watched his wife spoon her decadent delight and breathed fire after sipping his own.

We made it to the Meseo del Prado by six PM, just in time to get in for free. It is "one of Europe's finest centers for 12th-17th century art".  The first fifty minutes were a grand time of admiring chiaroscuro and scrunching up our faces at the doughy bodies of obese pink cherubs.  We did get to see some paintings by Rafael, and spent the next fifty minutes looking for the Rembrandts.  It's a good thing the museum consists of an old and new building, every currator motioning to take the lift and turn the corner.  We turned the same corner, ping-ponging between the same two currators until we finally realized we had been passing up the Rembrandt.  Keyword being THE.  Only one, and it was the ugliest of them all.  Some portrait of a fat woman- "Artemisia"- enjoy it with us by googling it if you can.  The irony of it all is there wound up being a thumbnail picture of it on the back of our program.

By that time our feet were on the verge of stress fractures, but we finished strong by picking up a make-shift dinner from a market (potato chips, canned mussels in a vinegar sauce, bananas and oranges, and cup o' noodles).  We taught the man of the hostel how to make a cup o' noodles, and even ventured past "gracias" by throwing in the "mucho". 

This morning we went to a real Catholic mass, and washed it down with a legitimate breakfast of eggs and bacon that we stumbled upon by a chance.  We've been waiting at the train station ever since.

Which leads us to the crowning moment of the day.  No sooner had Rebecca mentioned the need for wheels, Michael proposed the possibility.  It wasn't much more than thirty minutes later that she was wheeling around her goods on one of those collapsible carts.  They only had one with decent wheels, though, so we're hoping to find another in Barcelona.

We might only be in Barcelona a day, and not Barcelona itself but Figueras, which is just north of Barcelona, so hang tight for the next message.  God bless to all, it's been great to see you enjoy our adventures with us.



I'm so very jealous! I loved this post, I can almost see the city.

  Lea Feb 8, 2010 9:23 AM


Great to read! Nice pix; thanks for sharing!
Have a blest trip & prayers are lifted on your behalf.
Much love, Madre.

  MOM Feb 9, 2010 12:37 AM


Wow! The two of you could write THE book! I love the writing...and the pictures. I'm hoping to see more pics of YOU, though. Don't forget to capture each other. Those pictures will be with you for decades. The others may fade away. I totally LOVE the artistic shots: clothes on a line, shots looking up walls, the cat with the rails,.... Awesome. I'm green with envy. Have FUN!

  Connie Hagman Feb 10, 2010 1:29 PM


There is nothing like a cathedral to lift your eyes and heart to holy, awesome, majestic GOD!!!

  Aunty Feb 10, 2010 11:40 PM

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