My last day in Spain was a pretty relaxing one. I got up and went to the Prado Museum. I stopped along the way at the cutest little bakery café on a little side street. I had a giant piece of chocolate cake for breakfast and a glass of fresh orange juice. And it was good! The café was very small with just maybe four or five little café tables that could seat two people and a small counter with baked goods sitting under glass topped cake stands. And all around the little cafe, it had books for sale! All new releases that were for sale. They had books tucked onto little display stands in corners, sitting on rungs of ladders, and sitting on bookshelves hung on the walls. It was really cool. It was definitely my kind of place and I was so happy I decided to go in.
One thing I’ve learned on this trip is when you see a place open and serving food and you’re even the tiniest bit hungry, GO IN. I’ve learned to grab any opportunity I can rather than waiting and assuming there’ll be other options ahead. That has been a big lesson learned on this whole trip, for sure. Something better might not be just up the road. This might be the best, so take the opportunity when it comes up.
After breakfast, I walked to the museum. The police presence here is overwhelming. Lots of extra security down here in this part of Madrid around the big tourist places. The Prado is the biggest tourist attraction in Spain, so I think I saw their highest level of police protection this country has. Lots of huge vans and police of all types stationed all around this neighborhood. But, the Prado was great.
I only took one art history class in college, but I recognized some of the names of the artists I was seeing. Rafael, Goya, Van Dyck, Diego Velazquez (the Prado has tons of his stuff), and even one Rembrandt (I learned that’s his first name. I never knew that.) The museum is big, but manageable, I thought. I saw all the rooms in about 3 and a half hours, and I was able to browse the gift shop/bookstore and grab a bite to eat at the café near the bookstore. Of course, it was a ham and cheese sandwich but I was able to get it heated up so there was some variety with it being hot rather than cold…and I got a giant cookie with it, and giant cookies always improve a meal.
One neat thing about the Prado was seeing the artists who set up easels in the rooms and paint the masterpieces. I saw several and though some of the current painters versions of the paintings looked better than some of the paintings on display. It was cool to see that these paintings are used for that type of practice and teaching and that the Prado allows artists to bring their paints in and just set up right next to the paintings. Very cool. Maybe that’s common in these big art museums, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before, but I haven’t been to a ton of art museums either.
After the museum, I walked around a bit and looked at the botanic garden through the garden gates. I didn’t pay the three euro to get in because it looked fairly brown to me. The police presence is good, security wise, but also sort of unsettling. I just came back to my hotel room and spent the rest of today relaxing and resting my feet and ankles again. There are Christmas movies on tv! They’re like the made-for-tv type of Christmas movies. Sort of in the vein of Hallmark Hall of Fame. I’ve seen one with Julie Andrews in it, and one version of a Christmas Carol where Scrooge was a woman. I can tell I’ve lost track of the passing of time. I sort of still expect it to be around Halloween. Next week is Thanksgiving, though!
But, this television has a group of channels out of the UK, and the commercials during the breaks in the movies are for the major toys of the holiday season in the UK. It’s interesting. It’s a lot of games that I sort of remember playing when I was a little kid. Like “Operation”, a version of a game where you try to push down the teeth of a crocodile and the crocodile will snap down and bite a player’s hand eventually (poor description, I’m sorry), and something that reminded me of a fishing game where you tried to catch magnets in fish and reel them in. And Europe seems crazy about Playmobil sets, too. I LOVED Playmobil sets as a kid. I had a carousel swing when I was little with a few Playmobil people and I remember playing with that swing all the time. I think I even still had it up until a few years ago. I haven’t seen Playmobil sets in the US, so I don’t know if they’re big sellers in America, or if Europe is just sort of the major market now for those? But, it’s cool. It’s sort of a retro sort of Christmas here. The toys aren’t really all that electronic or noisy or transform into anything else. They’re just these sort of 90s-era-America awesome toys.
Tomorrow I leave Europe. I’m going to take the Renfre train up to Chamartin and then take the metro over to the airport in the morning. I’m flying all day tomorrow to Philadelphia first and then to Chicago and then I’m staying in Chicago for the night before taking a train from Chicago to Albuquerque. I’m ready to be home. I won’t be home until Thursday and I go back to work on Friday, but I think I’ll be okay. The jet lag might get to me, but I’m hoping that the train will help me adjust better than just flying straight in would be. We’ll see.
Thank you for traveling along with me! I will update with some final thoughts after I’ve been home a bit and have absorbed a bit more of what this experience means to me and how I feel about it after I give it a few weeks back in my “normal” life.