jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 24 [22 Feb 09] – Madrid

Posted in Madrid by jn82 on February 22, 2009

The sleeper train ride from Lisbon to Madrid was very good. We decided to save €20 and not take a first class twin sleeper coach, instead opting to take a four bed sleeper coach. For this cost saving we would be giving up the privacy of a personal room to ourselves and a free breakfast. However it was the right decision as the four bed sleeper was extremely comfortable and spacious enough for all. After making friends and exchanging travel experiences and plans with our train coach mates (who very coincidentally were booked into the same hostel as us in Madrid), I managed to get around six hours of solid sleep.

Lusitânia Comboio ready to leave Lisbon Santa Apolonia station.

One half of the sleeper cabin, where I had the bottom bunk in the picture.

Locomotive of the Lusitânia Comboio upon arrival at Madrid Charmartin.

After an extremely tough time due to being “loss in translation” while trying to secure reservations for out next few train trips through Spain, we headed to the metro and caught the metro to the hostel, where we dumped out bags. Sunday was free museum day in Spain (or so we thought), so we decided to head to the three famous art museums in Madrid.

The first stop was to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which was free today. After walking around inside for a bit, we got extremely bored as the whole thing about contemporary art simply eludes me. I do not understand the abstractness or see what it is all supposed to mean. However since we were in Madrid, we needed to peservere and carry on. There were very notable works on display by Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, including one of his most famous works “Guernica“, a black and white, 3.5 metre (11 ft) tall and 7.8 metre (25.6 ft) wide, a mural-size canvas painted in oil depicting the bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight German bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

Outside Reina Sofia.

After a couple of painful hours, we headed for lunch at a nearby cafe serving Spanish fare, and had a very decent set lunch for €10. The next stop, or so we thought, was to Museo Nacional Del Prado. However, contrary to what was written in both my Frommers and Lonely Planet travel guides (which were probaby outdated), the free entry was only after 5pm, not the whole day. Being stingy Singaporeans, we decided not to pay the concession rate of €3 and instead come back after 5pm.

Outside Museo Nacional Del Prado.

In the meantime (it was around 3.45pm), we headed to the third museum, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the final point of the “Golden Triangle of Art” which includes the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia. The Thyssen-Bornemisza fills the historical gaps in its counterparts’ collections: in the Prado’s case this includes Italian primitives and works from the English, Dutch and German schools, while in the case of the Reina Sofia the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection, includes Impressionists, Expressionists, and European and American paintings from the second half of the 20th century, with over 1,600 paintings. Concession entry fee to this museum was €4, and since there was no time it had free entry, we decided to pay up and have a look. It was pretty good, but soon after we developed contemporary and all other forms of art overkill. Too many paintings for one day (or ne year).

Outside Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

It was 5.30pm now, and time to head back to Prado for free entry! No such luck.

Insane queues outside Museo Nacional Del Prado.

The picture does not show it, but the queue to get in was insanely long, and there were easily close to a thousand people in line snaking all around the side of the museum. All this to save something like €6 (concession €3)! Decided that by the time we got in the museum would have closed, so went back to the hostel, as we had enough art for one day anyway.

After some rest, we headed for a 8.30pm dinner, where the normal dinner time in Spain is from 8pm – 10pm. Decided to have some cured meats and a two person order of Paella for dinner, and it was very nice.

Me and my Paella.

Link to today’s gallery of pictures here.

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