Friday, October 6, 2017

MADRID STOPOVER...WANDERING, SHOPPING, DINING, ART MUSEUMS, AND A DEMONSTRATION

We stopped in beautiful Madrid for two nights before flying to Mallorca. We haven't been here for almost 15 years so it was great to return! This is a perfect place to get into a new time zone. We stayed at the Westin Palace Hotel, shown on the right, a favorite place to stay for the likes of Picasso, Dali, and Hemingway. It's located in the superbly located Centro District, home to great Madrid museums, restaurants, and shopping. And let us not forget those Westin Heavenly Beds!
I requested an early check-in as a Starwood Preferred Guest as our flight arrived at 7 AM. After unpacking and a short nap we went out to have lunch and explore the neighborhood.

A statue of Miguel de Cervantes on the square across from our hotel.

"Museo del Jamon" was packed for Merienda, or the mid-afternoon snack. It is very difficult for most American tourists, especially those on a Denver time-zone, to adjust to Spanish mealtimes! Lunch is usually 2-3:30 PM and dinner is between 9- 11 PM, or even later!

Interesting Madrid architecture on our walk to the El Corte Ingles department store. This is Europe's largest department store chain with numerous locations in Madrid, each specializing in different products. Their store nearest to the Plaza Puerto del Sol is quite a shopping experience.

Before our trip, I researched restaurants open early for dinner. I read about Gourmet Experience at El Corte Ingles department store. On the 9th floor rooftop of their Callao area store, they have a wonderful selection of fast-casual restaurants and is open from 10 AM to Midnight! This was the perfect place for an early first-night dinner!

Views of the city.

Marla scouts out a table while I search for drinks and food.

I'm savoring a Marguerita from "Central Mexicana" at the Gourmet Experience.

On the walk back to the hotel we came upon a giant demonstration. "Mision Abolician" was the largest demonstration in Spain to end bullfighting The plaza was filled with thousands of passionate people.

Demonstrators disperse after the event.

Not sure why these pigs were in attendance.  Maybe they are lobbying for an end to "Jamon", and Spain's obsession with dry-cured ham.

Buskers head for the subway from Calle de Preciados, the main shopping street in the central area.

The next day we went to the fabulous Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, just around the corner from our hotel. Marla admires a beautiful painting by Renoir. At one time this was the second largest private art collection in the world. 

I was particularly impressed with this 1489 portrait by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Since I am an old "textile guy" I love the fabric detail on her sleeve!

The fabric design and colors of this 15th-century dress are striking!

I really enjoy the French "Barbizon" school and particularly this 1855 painting by Rousseau. My great-grandfather painted in a similar style as a "plein air" artist in late 19th century San Francisco. He loved painting near Mount Tamalpais in Marin County.

This is a majestic portrait by John Singer Sargent.

Their museum gift shop even featured a bike seat cover and bike bags inspired by Gustav Klimt.

We still had a bit of energy so we walked across the street to the Prado Museum.

The museum was close to closing so we concentrated on the fabulous rock crystal bowl collection of France's Grand Dauphin, Louis XIV, in the museum's basement. I love anything about rocks and minerals and I was just amazed with this exhibit!

On the way to an early dinner at a place recommended by our hotel's concierge, we spotted these cooks relaxing at the entrance to a Cuban restaurant.

Dinner was great at El Barril De Las Letras. It was 7:45 PM and of course there were only a few Americans and Brits dining at this "unfashionable hour!"

Back at the Westin Palace Hotel, we had the energy for a glass of Cava before bed. Tomorrow we fly to Palma Mallorca.

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