"Madrid!" you say - "What on earth are you doing in sunny Spain?"
Well, let's see, I'm here for a couple of weeks to teach some Spaniards to speak with a Texas accent (more later on the VaughnTown program I'll be participating in), eat some delicious tapas, swill some delicious vino and...oh yeah...tilt a few windmills while I'm at it. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?
I arrived at the beautiful and sparkling clean Madrid airport mid morning and then took an easy metro ride directly to my hotel in the downtown area. I found I was dragging a bit when I got to my room (my flight time seemed to be optimized to produce as much jet lag as possible), so I decided to take it a bit easy this afternoon and simply ride the "Hop On, Hop Off" double decker bus on several pleasant turns through the city. It turned out to be a good strategy because I was able to spy all sorts of interesting spots to return to without the confusion of having to find my own way around.
The diversity of architecture in this ancient yet enormous city (the third largest in the EU with a metro area population of around 6 million) is very impressive. There are of course scads of ample-bosomed white marble figures with flowing hair gazing down from rococo iron perches all over the city, but there are also baroque, neoclassicist, cubist, art deco and modern (to name a few) masterpieces nestled in between many of the grand "palaces" as the Spanish call them.
My favorite plaza so far is arrayed around a lovely fountain of Neptune, with the Prado Museum on one side and the Ritz Hotel Madrid on another. I sure do look forward to discovering many more nuances of this highly decorated city as I travel the avenues by foot.
When the sun began to fade and the air began to exhibit a nip, I decided it was time to return to my swanky hotel room, grab some dinner and dig back into Don Quixote (I'm actually really enjoying it!). I stopped by a sandwich shop next to my hotel and selected four white isosceles triangles for my meal (left to right): Jamon (ham), foie gras (liver), queso con nueces (cheese and nuts) and queso con tomate (cheese and tomato). I washed it down with a real Euro-peen Fanta naranja and it made a damn fine repast. Now if I can just stay awake long enough reading about the great beauty of good Dulcinea to break the evil jet lag cycle...