Sunday: Galway

We spent the day in Galway, our first warm, sunny day in about a week. What a pleasure to be outdoors without an umbrella.

Once we lucked into a parking space, we were in great shape. We walked all around the city for most of the day. Since it is Sunday, many stores were not open, but we enjoyed strolling through the pedestrian walkways, seeing some street performers, stopping for coffee, and spending time in the fantastic Charlie Byrnes bookstore. Wow, I could have spent hours there – there are hundreds of thousands of books. I bought just one.


photos: above – cappuccino stop

below: Just a small fraction of the bookshelves at Charlie Byrnes bookstore.

The University of Ireland, Galway raises funds for their rowing team today

Monday, March 16: last day in Madrid

Today we went to the Prado, the main national art museum in Spain. They are featuring a Goya in Madrid temporary exhibit, but the classic (Goya and Velasquez) masterpieces were what we wanted to see. There are over a thousand pieces of art on display (out of a collection of about 7,500) at any given time, and the building is (of course) huge.

As soon as we got there, a tour guide approached us and asked whether we wanted her to show us around. I was apprehensive but the price was right so Ana escorted us through the museum.

What a wealth of very interesting information she shared! There is no way to take in everything in the hours we planned to be there, but Ana showed us the highlights, or the must-see works. She had details and trivia about each one and I found it all fascinating. I left there thinking I may take an art history course, and that I want to learn more about the Spanish royal family. Some of them were characters and I haven’t read any Spanish history in decades.

Next we went to the barrio de La Latina – the Latin neighborhood of Madrid. It has narrow streets, old shops and restaurants, and is buzzing with people and action. (There’s a picture below of a street performer who looked like a gold statue. He was just sitting in front of a chess board. It was only after a few minutes that he stared out and revealed the whites of his eyes. He drew quite a crowd and I wondered how many hours he sat there motionless.)

We had lunch at a little Latin cafe and did a some shopping (to include the peach-colored sweater pictured) then headed back to the center of the city. Dinner was light: some tapas (small plates to share) and a bottle of wine at a restaurant near our hotel.

Tomorrow we pick up a car and drive toward Lisbon. We won’t make it there in one day, but I’m not sure where we’ll stop. I’ve really enjoyed Madrid!

Adios,
-Susan

After dinner tonight

After dinner tonight

Cafe con leche is why I'm awake right now, at one a.m.

Cafe con leche is why I’m awake right now, at one a.m.

A very-believable street performer posing as a statue.

A very-believable street performer posing as a statue.

Saturday, March14: Madrid

Before I left ( sort of blurry as Roger wanted to get moving already)

Before I left ( sort of blurry as Roger wanted to get moving already)

Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop near our hotel.

Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop near our hotel.

Here I am, reporting from the center of the city and sitting happily in a hip coffee shop. I’m jet-lagged but sipping strong coffee as I post this. Most of the people here seem to be very interested in the soccer game on TV.
Our flight to Chicago, JFK, then Madrid was largely uneventful. What a great feeling it was to tote around my light-as-a-feather luggage and not have the zipper threatening to burst from being over-stuffed. This, my friends, may be the only way to travel!
I wore a shirt and sweater that I may be happy to have later on in the trip, and black pants that I will for sure wear again. Photos of departure clothes should appear above.
When we arrived in Madrid, it was 9am and of course (1) there was no room available since check-in is at 1pm, (2) I was so tired from not sleeping on the plane that I may have been seeing double, (3) I really wanted to take a shower.
None of those things were going to change for a while, so we did what needed to be done: had breakfast then set out to shop! We went to the Salamanca district, which has many wonderful stores and was bustling with activity on a Saturday morning. I did well on this first trip. I found a really pretty top that I’ll wear to dinner one night (not tonight though), a couple pairs of pants, a top I’m wearing now, some shoes, and (crucial): undergarments.
Roger is a good sport about shopping, and by that I mean he wanders off and buys himself what he wants (gloves, socks) and then looks for me (this is complicated by not having our phones on to text each other).
Eventually we walked back to the hotel, shopping bags in hand, and got our room. Right now, he’s asleep and I guess I should be, but I ventured out instead (I’m thinking that I may not be back in Madrid for some time, so I won’t waste it napping). There are all sorts of street performers, flamenco dancers, some magic acts, and plenty of people milling around on this sunny Saturday. I ended up getting another pair of shoes and a pair of pants that I didn’t try on (feeling lazy). Then I popped in here and asked a joven to take my picture. As you can see, my outfit today is nothing special: it’s Spanish, though and I am very happy to be off to a good start!
Adios for now,
-Susan