Sunday, May 24, 2009

Culture in Madrid, Spain

I have 3 1/2 days to explore Madrid, a city I have never visited before. My top priority is to visit some of the incredible art galleries - some of the world's top art exhibits. However, my other priority is to absorb some of the city's popular culture by roaming the streets and squares, window shopping, and sampling the wine, beer, ice cream and pastries.

Madrid has some amazingly large, elaborate buildings - like fancy wedding cakes. At one point, I looked up to the sky, and there was a huge chariot and horses posed on top of a high-rise building! There are squares and gardens and fountains. The Plaza Mayor is a huge square lined with arcades. The square's most impressive building is the Real Casa de la Panaderia with its elaborate frescoes. The Palacio Real (the royal family no longer live here) is an attractive building surrounded by parks.

The most astonishing part of Madrid is how lively it is and how many people throng the streets until late in the evening. London and Paris are silent and empty on a Sunday. Not Madrid. And the metro is even busier at 10:30 at night than at 10:30 in the morning. (I'm afraid I can't report on the all-night scene - I collapse after 12 hours on my feet.)

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