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Embedded Photos: 1.Cafe Ferpal 2.Churros y Chocolate 3.Tio Pepe Ad
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Spanish Flag SPAIN


March 27. MADRID The weather was still pretty bad but it made for a good museum day.  We all got caught up with computer work in the morning and Cafe Ferpal, Madrid didn't get off very early though.  Jose took us to a really good lunch at a nearby cafe and warmed up with some wine and a big meal we headed to the Prado Museum.  It was a busy day but the museum wasn't too crowded.   It was a manageable size for one visit and in four hours we were able to take our time exploring most of the exhibits with the collections of Goya, El Greco, and Rubin being the most impressive.  From the museum we walked up the Paseo del Prado to Madrid's Hard Rock cafe, past the Centro Cultural de la Villa with its dramatic wall of water that poured over its entrance from the park above.  We  stopped at a nearby cafe for some coffee before going back to Jose's and being treated to a very good home cooked meal.

March 28. MADRID The rain was becoming monotonous at this point but we were still pretty smitten with Madrid.  For both of us it had become one of our favorite cities in Europe.  It had beauty, charm, hospitality, good food, and it was full of large green areas and clean streets.  But, we didn't even leave Jose's on Sunday.  It was just too cold and rainy.  We did make it out for a long three hour lunch at a nearby restaurant which was a great way to enjoy Spain in bad weather. 

March 29. MADRID In spite of the ongoing cold and wet weather we motivated ourselves to get out and visit the Palacio Real. The present king's grandfather was the last royal to life in the palace so it is preserved today for special function and ongoing admiration by tourists.  They offered English tours which enabled us to see twenty out of the palaces 2000 plus lavish rooms.  It is notable as the palace with the most rooms in the world but what struck me was the warm and opulent decoration of the rooms.  They were rich in carpets, tapestries, embroidered silk wall paper, and exquisite artwork.  One room featured a floral explosion from floor to ceiling.  The floor was made of different colored marble in the shape of flowered designs.  The flowers continued up the walls in sChurros y Chocolateilk embroidery and from the ceiling clung flowers in plaster.  A large table added to the motif with a beautiful floral design that looked painted until you got closer and could see that it was made from fine pieces of tiling.  After you have seen a number of palaces they can start to feel the same, many favoring the opulent but cold and stark style of Versailles.  The Palacio Real, however, felt like it was a palace that had been lived in.

Spanish royal history shares the incestuous roots of the rest of royal Europe.  The royal families across Europe must be some of the most interrelated people in the world from centuries of marriage across royal lines between the various countries.  That is changing as today's royals chose to marry from within their own societies and not always people of royal blood.  But, Spain was ruled by the Austrian Hapsurgs for 200 years from 1516 until 1700 until the French Bourbons took the throne.  The monarchy was abolished in 1931 but after the death of the dictator, General Franco, in 1975, the Bourboun King Juan Carlos I was reinstated as ruler and restored democracy to the country.  

After our tour we returned, like pigeons, to the same sandwich shop.  It was still the cheapest lunch around.  The weather outside was bitter cold but we still motivated ourselves to take a walk through some of Madrid's older neighborhoods, south of Sol.  When the cold just got to be too much we found our way back to Sol and thawed out in a coffee shop.  We got back to the apartment around 7:30 and went with Jose Luis to have dinner at nearby steak restaurant.  It was a real treat because the steak was prepared using a very unique method.  The meat was encased in a thick layer of sea salt and baked.  The waiter removed the meat from the salt at our table.  He sliced the meat and placed a sizzling hot grill on the table for grilling the sides.  After seeing this production I was really regretting that I had ordered the fish.

 March 30. MADRID  Our goal for the day was to visit the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia which exhibits Spain's modern art, including Picasso's famous Guernica.  And, after some many months of traveling you might think that we would have made sure the museum was open that day but it wasn't. Tio Pepe around the world we were prepared to pass it up in favor of focusing on domestic art. But, the excellent collection must be the best representation of the history of western art presented in such a manageable size.  It covered genres from early religious paintings to the most modern styles, including examples of  famous artists in each of the various genres.  For art lovers and those who know nothing about art it is a fantastic collection.

We regretted that we didn't have more time in the museum and after over four hours we found ourselves rushing through the last section of modern art to finish by 7:00.  On the way back to the apartment we stopped at Museo Chicote for a bit of Hemingway nostalgia.  This Art Deco bar-cafe was made famous in the 1930s by the American writer and other famous people like Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles.  It still had its Art Deco pizzazz. 

For dinner Jose Luis treated us to another great home cooked meal.  Between his dinner and all of the hearty lunches we were leaving Madrid in tighter clothes.

SPAIN Madrid Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25-26 Mar 27-30 Granada Mar 31 April 1-28 Semana Santa Part I Part II Photos I Photos II Photos III Photos IV The Alhambra Part I Part II Part III Part IV


MOROCCO Chefchaouen April 30 May 1 Fes May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 6 Meknes May 7 May 8 May 9 Sahara May 10-11 May 12 May 13-14 May 15 Marrakesh May 16