This is our last night at the hostel, and the first night that we have cooked dinner and are hanging out with the other folks at the hostel. It´s good to meet people and especially so for Sarah - part of why she wanted to come here was to meet people an dhang out in the culture with other people. It´s been a pretty good couple of days, other than that my throat continues to bother me.
Sunday night we walked around and around and around. Almost all the shops close at 8 pm so there´s not much shopping to do at night. There was one bookstore and extras shop here in the gay district I wanted to get something at but I couldn´t find it again when I was ready to do that.
When I say here in the gay district that is because the youth hostel we are in is near the chueco plaza in the Chueco area, which is largely gay.
so yeah, we walked around and shopped a little at the people who were selling things to tourists in the street - shawls from India mostly- and eventually found the plaza mayor, where there was a free concert - an Irish band, it seemed, though many of their songs were in spanish. we sat for a while and had cervezas at an outdoor cafe while we made lists of what we wanted to do in Madrid, and when we were done we went around the plaza and danced a little - their encore song particularly got us caught up, along with a couple of enthusiastic guys who came to dance with us - vigorous irish dancing- and that was fun but my asthma kicked in, which was way too bad because when we left the plaza we walked right past the primo place for hot chocolate and I didn´t want any because my throat was so sore. Hot chocolate here is rich melted chocolate - like in the Chocolat movie.
On Monday we were both tired in the morning. We had breakfast of toast with the others at the hostel and went back to bed : side note: there is a puppy here who is very cute but needs a lot of training yet - white fur, like a wolfhound maybe (I should know the name but I forget). her name is Sandy.
around 11 we got moving (with encouragement from the hostel guys who wanted to clean and a little bit of Sarah being upset because she´d slept so long) and we went to the Reina Sofia and that was great (guernica and many version of the working stages!) but we were getting short on money and we discovered that nobody takes travelers checks! somehow we didn´t understand this before we came. the money changing place charge a hefty commision and the banks wn´t change money without your passport. we got money for lunch at the reina sofia through my spending U.S. dollars to buy a Dali jigsaw puzzle - they would take dollars at a decent exchange rate, but not travelers checks.
so then we went to the park retiro and sat for a bit and went to the Palacio Velasques which had a fabulous showing of photos by Nan Goldin -documentation of life, very graphic, including nudity and sex and masturbation, etc. my favorite was a series on Maternity.
After that we headed for el corte ingles because my guidebook said they would change travelers checks with a low commission - they were open until 10 pm but it turned out they wouldn´t change it without a passport - the man was very rude to us- and we ended up changing money and another place where they charged 7.5 % but would do it just with out drivers licenses. then we had dinner - an awful paella but with good limon drinks (like lemonade) and we met a couple of other women from the states and it was kind of nice to cht with them - and talking to people who were just taking straight tours around the city and not hitting the art museums made us feel better about what we were doing.
Today, tuesday, we got up in good time and headed to the Prado by way of the American express office and got a much better start to the day. The goya was the best part I think so far (we have only seen one floor and will have to go back on Thursday) though they also had many works by valasquez and two by Rembrandt -woman in bed and another one. The first was on loan from someplace else.
we went out for lunch and sat for a while to plan - a few groups of schoolchildren were going around practicing their english so we sat hrough a few sets of those. For lunch we ate at the Bar Museu which actually is on the other side of the passeo del prado and was very nice. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice.
after lunch we really planned what to do with going to Cordoba and we went to the train station and reserved all our tickets for the rest of the trip. we´re going to Cordoba tomorow and then to alicante to stay with Rianti´s parents for a day (two nights) then saturday we are going to barcelona.
after that we went to the Thyssen museum which was once a private collection and is just amazing. Sarah broke down crying in the room with degas, Van Gogh and a bunhc of others. There were two charming Winslow Homers and I understand now why he is admired. they were very small and the reproductions in posters don´t reflect the charm of the original size. unfortunately they didn´t have a poster of the van gogh I really liked.
After that we walked up the passeo del prado as it change into another passeo and eventually ended up in el circulo de los bella artes - they had this marvelous outdoor display of various photos from the olympics - to help popularize the idea - they want to get the olympics here in 2012.
then we got some food and vegetables and cooked dinner back at the hostel and Sarah just went out with this nice guy from Argentina and now I´m going to bed but I wated to post this first.
love to all,