Madrid, on 3 hours of sleep

May 15th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

First off, let me just say that serving breakfast at midnight does not fool your body into thinking that 3 hours of nodding off in a seated position is a good night’s sleep. That being said, we did just experience the miracle of human flight (thanks for reminding us Mr. C.K.). I have absolutely no complaints about being whisked from New York to Madrid in less time than it takes to make ceviche. But my body wasn’t fooled; it knew I shortchanged it.

The airport in Madrid was empty at 7:30 am, which surprised me considering today is San Isidro, the festival of the patron saint of Madrid. In fact, the whole city was empty even when we arrived at our hotel at 9:00 am. There is something charming about an entire city sleeping in.

Despite our sleep-deprived zombie gait, we managed to walk the mile or so to El Museo del Prado. We really had no choice, since we were beholden to the blood oath that we signed getting off the plane to visit the greatest collection of Spanish masterworks in the world. In truth, I enjoyed seeing the more famous works (Las Meninas, etc.), but the royalty and the religion really wore on me after the 200th depiction of Jesus on the cross.

The streets ran blue with smurf blood

The streets ran blue with smurf blood

On the way back to the hotel — Hotel Preciados, which I highly recommend, for what it’s worth — we admired the preparations for the 100th anniversary of the Gran Via, one of the main avenues in Madrid. And what celebration would be complete without a giant blue carpet?

We thought that there would be a parade of some sort, but we knew it wouldn’t start for some time (the streets were still pretty empty, even at noon), so we tried a siesta on for size. It should surprise nobody that siesta fits us like a glove.

By the time we dragged ourselves out of the room, the city had also managed to rouse itself, and we could see that there was in fact a parade on the big blue carpet, however the parade consisted of every resident of Madrid walking up and down the street, drinking and making merry. There actually wasn’t that much drinking, considering the permissiveness of the police and the scores of short, weathered-looking folks selling dollar (I mean 1 Euro) cans out of backpacks. We bought two and set on the carpet to watch the people, the sunset, and the left side of a large concert stage. Behind us, a father had his 5-year old son hold his beer while he put on his sunglasses. The police nodded approvingly.

The rest of the evening was tapas, vino, and walking around the teeming city center. We spent a particularly long time trying to determine how we managed to go south from our hotel, make two rights, and end up very far east of our hotel (without ever crossing the street we went south on). Our best guess: San Isidro is also the patron saint of wormholes.

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