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Enamorado de Madrid June 6, 2009

Posted by Sarah in me, random.
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Those who follow me on Twitter may know that I’ve spent the past week in Madrid, and that things didn’t go so well at the start: I spent the first 2 1/2 days in my hotel room battling a nasty cold, while outside the sun was shining and my colleagues were getting lots of interesting work done.

Such trips have a habit of redeeming themselves though  – there’s nothing that puts me in a better mood than realising that I’m not sick anymore. This one was no different, and I discovered again why Madrid is one of my favourite cities. Although proper Spanish food is not exactly the model of the “healthy Mediterranean diet”, it is delicious, and I happily let my meat and bread consumption increase by 500% for the time that I spend there: cerdo iberico FTW. The big airy boulevards, brilliant museums, efficient public transport and the friendliness of the Madrileños totally make up for what Madrid lacks in grace and mystery compared with, say, Barcelona.

Joaquin_Sorolla_Walk_on_the_Beach

Joaquin Sorolla's Walk on the Beach

On Friday I visited the Prado, which is wonderful. I didn’t have time to see their current temporary exhibition on Joaquín Sorolla, but if you’re in the area do go see it as it looks great. I saw plenty of paintings by the local heroes, Velazquez, El Greco and of course Goya. Goya’s paintings always surprise me in how old they are, they look so much more modern – almost expressionistic. But in fact they date back to the late 18th, early 19th century, predating expressionism by 100 years. Particularly his Pinturas Negras are very dark and twisty.Wikipedia tells me he painted those after becoming very bitter and anxious:

He had an acute awareness of panic, terror, fear, and hysteria.

That sounds about right then. I thought the Sorolla was a more fitting image to go with this post.

I visited some lovely parts of Madrid that I’d never been to before. One evening I had dinner in the area of La Latina, which is apparently an up-and-coming trendy area. The Calle del Almendro is littered with very cool looking bars and eateries, excellent for having watching the beautiful people over a jug of sangria.

On a walk I discovered the area North of Gran Via, leading to the government-y buildings, has some achingly hip shops, bars and restaurants in a network of streets that tourists don’t seem to venture into. Go check out the Galeria Moriarty on Calle de la Libertad, hang with the locals on the Plaza de Chueca and hunt for some beautiful clothes, shoes and accessories on the Calle del Argensola. Look, I even made you a nice little map – no excuses – and enjoy!

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