The Spanish (and in this case, immigrants) know how to have a good time. It may be why their economy remains one of the worst in Europe, but dammit, they won’t let you visit without completely sucking you in. As a first-timer, I am hooked and cannot wait to go back.
After several, uninterrupted weeks of Paris-based fun, we headed to Madrid for a long weekend with Erin’s friend Emily and her partner Dionysio. As an American and Italian, they have assimilated to Spanish culture quite well, and were the best guides we could have hoped to have.
For those unaware (as I was), the Spanish do everything a few hours behind everyone else. That means that even though we arrived at 3:00 p.m. absolutely famished, we were right on time for lunch. We skipped the siesta, which many people here still take seriously, in favor of visiting the Reina Sofia, one of the continent’s finest modern-art collections.
The Reina Sofia is home to a large collection of Picasso and Dali. Most of their work is off-limits to photography, including Guernica, one of the most moving works of art I’ve ever known, and that was before actually seeing it in person. Standing in the presence of one of the most powerful statements on the horrors of war was, well, I had a moment.
We then proceeded to have an “early” dinner (10 p.m.: Seriously, we were the first people at the restaurant). It was here that my preconceptions of Mediterranean dining were turned upside down. The Spanish do it heavy — potatoes, meats, bread. When the tapas shows up at your table, you wonder if there’s enough to share. There is.
The next day, we had an 11:00 a.m. breakfast (sensing a theme here?) and boarded a train to the nearby town of Segovia, an old, beautiful town also holding a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. We took advantage of the unseasonably warm temps to take in the sites and eat some ridiculous food. We capped off the night with some delicious, went-down-way-too-easy sangria from one of the best spots in Madrid.
Saturday featured another late breakfast (this time at noon!), a vibrant Andalusian lunch and strolling around Madrid. Emily and Dionysio’s apartment is in a great location, allowing quick walking access to many of the city’s big sights.
While the long weekend was the perfect way to experience Madrid, I fear it has only just whet our appetites to experience more of the Spanish way of life. I mean, we’re already not working, so it’s the perfect time to be lazy. Oh yeah, it’s also very, very cheap. We are already plotting our return.