Our second day in Madrid was a whirlwind of sight-seeing, as we tried to absorb as much as we could during our relatively short time there.  The first stop of the day was the Museo del Prado, which houses one of Spain’s most prized art collections.  It was fantastic to see in person so many paintings that I’d read about in art history books – pieces by Goya, Velazquez, and Ribera.  I was particularly taken with the brooding, somber qualities of Goya’s later work – more muted color palettes, less representational figures, dramatic brush strokes.  Shane accuses me of only liking “dark art”, and I guess my inclination towards these pieces only reinforced his point.  Who knew I had a dark side?

All of that art-seeing had us hungry, so we hopped across the street for a leisurely lunch (tapas, of course).  The sun was shining and I reveled in the warmth of our little table on the plaza.  Aaaahhh…  On the way to our next stop after lunch, we came across the CaixaForum – a totally amazing building recently completed by Herzog and deMeuron.  I was instantly taken with the outside of the building, and the super-cool green wall growing next to it.  The interior was impressive as well, with its innovative use of materials and simple, sleek forms.





After my contemporary-architecture-fix, we headed down the road for a contemporary-art-fix at the Reina Sofia.  The highlight of the museum visit was seeing Picasso’s “Guernica” – a piece famous for his representation of the horrors of war.  What a difference it makes to see a painting in person – I had glossed over this piece so many times in books, but standing there in front of it, as it filled the whole room, I understood the power of Picasso’s work.  Wow.

We said good-bye to Jack and La Verne yesterday evening as they hopped on a bus bound for southern Spain, and so Shane and I were left to our own devices for our final night in Madrid.  We took a walk through the near-by botanical gardens, enjoying the freshly bloomed flowers and the sight of so many families out for an evening stroll.


We then started our slow trek across the city center, stopping once or twice for tapas and beer along the way, and finally arrived at Madrid’s Royal Palace.  The palace was closed by the time we got there, but we were able to see the outside and spent awhile sitting on the steps of the church facing the palace, taking in the view of what has been called “Spain’s Versailles”.


From the Royal Palace, we wound our way back to the hotel, stopping once more for tapas and again for churros and chocolate – a local dessert or breakfast consisting of strips of fried dough dipped in a super-thick cup of hot chocolate.  Yes, it is just as rich and as fatty as it sounds.  But man, it tastes gooooood.  And we’re on vacation, right?  We fell into bed last night with tired feet and sore legs (and just the slightest stomach ache from our decadent dessert), but were so grateful for the chance we’d had to see so much during our short time there.  Shane has already put Spain on the “must-come-back-to” list.  No arguments here!