Friends, Dali and Tapas in Madrid

And so, our family visits over until next year, we have begun our slow trip back to Australia.  First stop Madrid which I have skirted a few years back but never visited.  Luckily, after the UN Climate Change venue suddenly changed from Santiago, Chile to Madrid, I found an Ibis hotel centrally located and not too expensive and strangely, it turned out to be literally a few blocks from friends’ place.  A visit anywhere is always more enjoyable and interesting when you can catch up with friends and locals.

Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas opposite our hotel

COP25 water bottles handed out at Madrid underground

We hadn’t seen Jonathan (my old boss from the early 90’s) and Mercedes for many years but it felt just like old times, just continuing from where we left off.  Our first evening at one of their favourite local tapas and seafood restaurant was a fantastic start.  The next morning, Mercedes and I caught up to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia – the entrance ticket I booked online for 10am was a little too early for Anthony so it was nice to have company and be able to discuss various artworks with Mercedes rather than going alone.  I feasted on the many Dalis and Picassos and other Spanish artists such as Miró.  The museum was fairly empty so it was wonderful to be able to linger in front of favourite paintings and enjoy the details, especially the Dalis.

Dali – The Enigma of Hitler

Close up of Dali’s – The Enigma of Hitler

A visit to Madrid would not be complete without visiting the Prado, Spain’s national art museum which holds the best collection of Spanish art and one of Europe’s finest collection of European art.  Like the Louvre, it is impossible to see everything in a single visit.  Anthony and I met after lunch and spent a few hours meandering through this massive museum, selecting the artists and periods of personal interest – otherwise, it is easy to become overwhelmed when presented with so many works.  

Here is my favourite one of the day by Dutch renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Snowy Landscape with Skaters

Close up of Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Snowy Landscape with Skaters

Having spent my childhood in Saint-Quentin, in Picardie, northern France, I had to visit the grand monastery and palace which King Philip II of Spain ordered to be built to commemorate the 1557 Spanish victory at the battle of Saint-Quentin against King Henry II of France.  The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, named after Saint Lawrence, the saint day of the deacon who was roasted on a gridiron for his religious beliefs, was built in the shape of a gridiron.  Scenes of the battle adorn ceilings around the monastery.  Pity I eventually found out photos were not allowed – the royal library is remarkable but sadly no photos allowed.

Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Battle of Saint-Quentin, El Escorial

Unsurprisingly, El Escorial and surroundings were declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1984.

Sunday 8th December, yes the blog is very late, saw us taking a lovely drive out into the countryside with Jonathan and Mercedes, lunch in a small village restaurant followed by a walk in the woods.  

With Jonathan and Mercedes

With Jonathan and Mercedes

It is funny how we can be creatures of habit:  the hotel recommended a local tapas bar just a couple of blocks down the road on our 2nd night – it was so good, we just had to return to on our last night.  The same locals standing in their favourite spot, our table by the window waiting for us, obviously, the waiters and waitresses welcoming us like regulars.  We have the roasted artichoke with Pedro Ximénez vinegar and crushed cashew nuts again, talk about our plans for the future.  The food and atmosphere are fantastic.  An elderly couple, one of them with a walking stick arrive, the place is now full, so I give up my seat.  Time for us to leave.  “See you tomorrow night” one of the locals called as we left.  I felt sad we couldn’t explain we wouldn’t be back.  But maybe I didn’t want to try and explain it because it felt good to feel like we belonged in a place…  It really is time for us to go home.

At our new local – La Tienta restaurant, Madrid

Our new local – La Tienta restaurant, Madrid

And so, quick as flash, our 3 days in Madrid were over.  So much more to see and do on a future visit.

Next stop, Singapore for a few days, to see our godsons and our friend Alicia.  It is funny how we have been to Singapore so many times, but always to visit friends.  One day we’ll stay longer and do some sight seeing.  This time, it rained heavily so staying indoors was the best place to be anyway.  Connor at 13 years of age is going through the typical teenage silent phase while at 11.5 Connor is still as affectionate as ever.  Precious times with them all, pity Michael was away on business.

With Ronan, Alicia and Connor

We leave most of our luggage at our hotel for our return in 3 weeks’ time.  Vietnam next.

– Anne

10 comments on “Friends, Dali and Tapas in Madrid

  1. Lovely Blog, I visited Madrid on many occasions but to was with work, I did not really see the pace and your stories draw me back. I have a feeling this is not the last time you will eat in that bar!!

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  2. What did you mean 10 O’clock is too early for Anthony ? Is that old age creeping in ? Madrid is a lovely city but Barcelona is better in my opinion. Next time you must visit the Dali museum in Figueres. Go early to avoid the crowds and stay until late, you still won’t see it all. THEN go to a local tapas bar.
    keep safe as you meander home.

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  3. Interesting how the bare branches in the photo of Anthony with Jonathan and Mercedes look just like those at the foot of the tree in the detail of the Breughel painting higher up. (well, sort of).

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  4. I never got to Madrid and just El Escorial and the art are an incentive!

    Amazing how grown up Alicia’s boys look – time passes so quickly as I still remember picking you guys up at their place in Turramurra and they were still littlies

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