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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Prado, Pastries and Perfection

¡Buenos tardes a todos!

We've had another busy day in Madrid! It's been really fun once again, and also the temperature has been much cooler - just 26 degrees... haha.

Today we've certainly taken a more relaxed approach to what we have done, but this hasn't stopped us from experiencing A LOT, and also seeing things in a different perspective. We're both speaking quite a bit of Spanish (although I've had to tell Sam what to say because he's stupid... but to be fair he's picking up quite a bit) so that's been good, and seeing as we're leaving Madrid tomorrow, it seems like we've really grasped a great deal of what the city is all about.

I'm writing this from the really comfy sofa in our hostel again. It's quite a nice position because we see everyone that comes in, and everyone says "Hola" and is generally very pleasant; much more so than in England. Although to be fair, we did just see a guy shouting "¡Cacahuetes!" through a door, which means "bollocks"...

Ok, so let's go through what me and Sam have been up to today... ¡VAMOS!


We woke up at 8.30am today, which was a bit later than yesterday. This is mainly because we were FUCKING KNACKERED, but also because we didn't have to do anything really urgently, whereas yesterday we had to get our tickets to San Sebastian.

In the end this was good because, for some reason, it seems Spanish people are incapable of functioning on Saturday mornings. We had planned to go to a café we saw yesterday on our road in Chueca (the region where our hostel is), but when we went in the guy said that they weren't going to open until 12!! Laaaaaaaaaaaazy. And I thought I was bad at getting up on Saturdays.

Here's a photo I took - you can see how quiet it was and how everything was closed:

So we walked around a bit to find somewhere open for us to get some breakfast that also had wifi... we wanted to look up the places we were going today and check our internet shit. Eventually we found a little café didn't do proper breakfasts like we had yesterday, only things like croissants and churros, but seeing as it was like the only place where people were awake (it was like some fucking post-apocalypse zombie world at this point), we had to make do.

I actually managed to convince Sam not to get churros!! We had croissants instead. So not really much healthier!

But it was a very nice café with good internet and friendly staff. Here are a couple of things I said in Spanish there:

¿Qué es el clave para el wifi? - What is the key (access code) for the wifi?

Quisiera un café con leche, un té verde y dos croasantes, por favor. - I would like a coffee with milk, a green tea and two croissants please.

It's great because a lot of the time, even though you know that the people you are talking to know form your accent that you are English, if you carry on speaking Spanish they will respond in Spanish. Similarly, if you get stuck and need to say some stuff in English, most of the time they understand and can speak English too. So it's great practice.

While we were here, we decided that the main thing we were going to do today was to walk down a long road.

This wasn't just any road, though, as it contained the Museo del Prado (the most famous museum/art gallery in Madrid), the Caixa Forum (a well-known building which is amazing architecturally), the Museo de la Reina Sofia and many other things. Sam wanted to see some great architecture, and I knew that we wouldn't fail to be entertained, so it seemed like a good plan. It may sound a bit strange that we were only deciding where to go just before we went there, but it gave us a lot of freedom and meant that if a place wasn't as impressive as we though, it wasn't as if we had our hearts set on going there anyway.

This is the only photo we took at the café so I might as well put it on... if any of you are as interested in coffee as Sam is, you may appreciate this!

Sam said that this was good, and when that cynical bastard says coffee is good, he means it.

So anyway, Sam chilled out around the Chueca metro station while I took the laptop back to the hostel (didn't want to lug that shit around all day), and then we met up again to set off on the metro. When we went to get our ticket though, Sam chose a 'Solo Tarjetas' (Card only) machine, and tried to put a fucking 2 euro coin into the card slot. LOL! It just made a dull thud as it fell down. And it probably broke the fucking machine. Good one Sam. 

So we set off on the tube to Banco de España, the tube station at the top of the Paseo del Prado, the main road that we were visiting. Here's the first thing we saw when we got out of the station:

This is the Ayuntamiento (town hall) of Madrid with the Fountain of Cibeles in front. Very nice.

The main attraction of this street was of course the Museo del Prado, so we were heading in this general direction, but we took the time to appreciate some of the lovely buildings in the local area. I'll show you a selection of the buildings we saw:

We then saw the Museo del Prado, and on the stairs down to the museum we met an invisible man!! Check it out!

What a gentleman!!

We then went down to the museum, and I asked a member of staff how much a ticket was:

¿Cuánto cuesta una entrada? - How much does a ticket cost?

She said that for most people it costs 12 euros but if we are students then it would be free. Unfortunately, we didn't have our student cards with us at the time, so we decided that we would carry on walking down the street and then if there was time, revisit the museum after going back to the hostel to get our student cards.

This is the area around the museum, where there are plenty of street performers:

We stopped by the guy playing the guitar for a bite to eat, and Sam decided he was going to sketch this entrance to the museum:

Here's the end result:

While Sam was sketching, I soaked up the atmosphere of the place (with the amazing Spanish guitar music), and also went on a little walk. Here's what I saw:

We then moved on towards the Caixa Forum. Before I go into detail, we encountered some other stuff along the way...

So we found our way to the Caixa Forum, a very interesting building with some auditioria and a café, but the actual appearance of the building was the main attraction. Of course, Sam geeked out with all his architectural terminology, constantly telling me about the finest details of the space we were in. I pretended to care, whilst taking some photos. Here they are, mixed in with Sam's:

Underneath the building...

The building next to it had a 'green wall', "which contrasts the industrial and inorganic nature of the Caixa Forum building", Sam gladly informs me.

It was also a popular place for skating!

The only thing was....well the building seemed to be held up by almost nothing. You could walk almost the whole way under:


We couldn't find any entrances!

It was only when we investigated the metal thing in the middle of the under-building-area that we realised there were some steps up.

So we went in and had a look around. The coffee monster inside Sam is relentless, and as soon as he saw that there was a café on the top floor, we went up there. To be fair, the top floor was interesting - this is what it looks like out of a window:

And here's me and Sam!

So after we finished our drinks, we headed further down the street to the Museo de la Reina Sofia, a modern art museum/gallery thing. The area around the museum looked like this:

However, when we looked at the price to get in, it was quite expensive, and we didn't know if it would be worth it. We thought that it would be better to spend the time going back to the hostel to get our student cards and go inside the Museo del Prado, a world renowned museum where we could get free entry, rather than risk enjoying ourselves less here.

So we made our way back to the hostel. We had a bit of a rest, and also there was another incident with water... I went a bit spaz and managed to drop a full bottle of water in our room, which splashed water everywhere, including over the thin hollow wall that connects us to another room. The wall is literally so thin that I wouldn't be surprised if the next room was flooded after that!

I could not stop laughing. For some reason, I found this incredibly funny (I think it was the thought of the wet patch showing up randomly on the wall in the the other room... LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL). I made myself cry laughing:

I'm laughing right now in the middle of this fucking hostel hallway just thinking about this!

Once I pulled myself together, we headed back to the Museo del Prado, got our free student tickets successfully, and went in. Unfortunately, we found out from a security guard after taking one photo that you are not allowed to take photos anywhere in the museum, even without flash. It was strictly 'prohibido'. But here's the one photo I did take of the ceiling in the entrance!

I'm sorry about the lack of photos. I can tell you that it was quite an interesting place. They had a lot of religious paintings (pictures of Mary the Virgin, Christ on the cross etc.) which me and Sam weren't so interested in, however they did have some amazing marble sculptures, particularly those done by Goya, the famous Spanish artist. His statue is outside the museum:

His paintings weren't bad either!

But overall it was definitely worth it considering our entry was free. Soooooooooooooo glad we bought our student cards.

At this point we were getting a bit hungry, and we'd decided earlier that we were going to have dinner in a restaurant. We'd got some food from the hypermarket again, but it wouldn't have been enough, so we decided to save it for our train journey tomorrow.

We agreed that we would look for a restaurant in the Gran Via area of Madrid. Gran Via is the main shopping street with all the big names and very tall, oppresive buildings (in my head: "fuck capitalism fuck capitalism fuck capitalism..."). But the area is seen as one of the main places to visit, so we thought that it would be a good place to get some food.

We took a few photos along the way:

Because Gran Via was so full of chain stores, we had to find a restaurant on one of the smaller streets coming off it. Eventually found a reasonable-looking one and sat down for our meal. I had battered hake with chips (very English I know), Sam had a pizza and we shared a mixed salad.

While we were in the restaurant, for the first time since we've been in Madrid, I heard someone use the word "coño"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For those who don't know what it means, you can use an online translator, or why not just make up the meaning yourself? Yeah! Then you can use it next time you come to Spain!! You won't offend anyone at all (!)

Also Sam got a bit scared because when he went to the toilet, he said there was a sticker of a spider on the underside of the lid!!!! Hahaha. He said that it scared him so much that he went to use the urinals, but all of them had spider stickers on too!!! Sounds like something out of a nightmare.

The meal wasn't too expensive, and did the job well, so after this we headed back to the hostel. Since then, I've been writing this blog, while Sam went out for about 45 minutes to have a drink with some people we met in the hostel. He had a good time so I'm happy, I don't want him to feel he has to stay with me while I write the blog.

So you're pretty much up to date!

Tomorrow (or later today I suppose) we wake up at 6am (FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK KILL ME NOW) so that we can be out of the hostel and at Chamartin station way before 8am when we get our train to San Sebastian on the north coast of Spain.

Looks like I'm gonna get very little sleep tonight! I'll try to sleep on the train I suppose, but I'm generally useless at sleeping in public places. Oh god I'm gonna be so tired.

Tonight I will leave you with a picture. In the last post, I did go on a bit about Sam being a fatty after ordering RIDICULOUS amounts of churros. But I have to say he has done very well today because he didn't have any at all! Good fatty.

As a kind of reward, I will admit to being a bit of a fatty today. Only a little one, mind. Here is the incriminating evidence...


Ok, so the next post will be from San Sebastian! See you there!!

Jack - 27/05/12 - 02:52 in Madrid, 01:52 in the UK

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