Thursday, July 28, 2011

Flash Trip to Madrid

Ultraviolet and SAM have just spent a little over three weeks in Holland with my mom, but all good things come to an end and on Saturday we had to go to Madrid to pick them up. Since their plane was scheduled to arrive fairly late in the day, we decided to spend the night and visit a couple of museums...and hopefully, get a bit of culture into our kids.  When we told Ultraviolet that we would be visiting a couple of museums, she wasn't thrilled, but in the end she enjoyed herself.

The trip was over almost before we realized it, and I ended up feeling a little like this guy (not the frustration, just the speed):

We really need to go back and see Madrid properly, but at least we got a start. This is what we crammed into our two-day trip:

Saturday: A four-hour car trip to Madrid. Lunch at IKEA, because how could we go to Madrid and not stop at IKEA?  Several hours trying to get out of the maze that is IKEA (without spending a fortune), which is much easier said than done, and if you don't believe me, try it sometime. Airport to pick up the kids. Hotel to drop off the luggage. Dinner and finally, yay, bed.

Sunday: Subway trip downtown, because we had a great (free) parking spot, and you just don't take that for granted in Madrid. Breakfast at a bar called Van Gogh Café, where breakfast for five cost us less than breakfast for two would have cost at the hotel.  Bellies filled, we headed over to  El Museo del Traje (Museum of Costume), where we got in for free since it was Sunday. Cameras weren't allowed, which is a pity since the kids got to try on a corset and a bustle, and I would have loved to get a picture of that.  We thought this would be kind of a "girly" museum, but even The Professor had a good time looking at all the historical costumes, which were pretty amazing.  People were tiny back then!  And some of the things we saw looked like very sophisticated torture devices.  All I can say is, am I ever glad people don't wear stuff like that anymore.  I'll take a comfy pair of jeans and a t-shirt over any of those silk and lace dresses and their corresponding frightening undergarments any day.

It took us about two hours to see the whole museum, and then we hit the gift shop, which is a danger if there are four women in your party (just ask the Professor and his credit card).  Done with that, we had lunch at a rather dingy restaurant near El Prado, and then we visited the museum, where we also got in for free, since we are a "familia numerosa" (large family).

The kids wanted to go through the Murillo door, since their last name is Murillo, but it was closed to the public, so they just posed in front of it.  The Professor and Ultraviolet tried very hard to pretend they didn't know the other two because they insisted on doing the "Japanese pose".

El Señor de Murillo y las Murillinas
Once we got in, which didn't take long at all since it was lunchtime, we only saw a few of the most important paintings because we knew patience was limited and we wanted to avoid the "I'm-tired-are-we-done-yet-do-we-really-have-to-see-more-paintings" stage, because after that it's usually all downhill from there.  So, we didn't see much, but I hope some of what we did see will stick in their minds.  Of course we had to see this one, Las Meninas, which must be the most well-known painting in the whole museum:

But the ones I liked best were these two:

Adam and Eve.  Albrecht Dürer
When we left, around six, a huge line had formed at the entrance that snaked all the way around the corner.  So, a word of advice, if you decide to visit El Prado, go at lunchtime (2 to 3p.m Spanish time).

After the museum, we stopped to see the turtles in the tropical garden that's inside the Atocha train station:

Either these guys reproduce like crazy, or people must sneak in to free those pet turtles that their kids got at Christmas from some well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) relative, because there are hundreds of them.
And then it was back on the subway to pick up the car.  Some of us were tired:

Too bad the subway can't take us all the way back to Pamplona
And then we went home, all too soon for me, but that's all we had time for.

All in all, it was a fun weekend.  Tiring, but fun.  Plus, I got some new stuff from IKEA! Hooray! And new stuff means there's an IKEA hack or two coming up. But I'll save that for another post, so while I get to work I'll leave you to guess what my creative new "cheap home solutions" are.


  1. I´m glad of the reminder about the Prado. I haven´t been for ten years - disgraceful, I know, considering I live quite near. As you´ve shown so graphically (and amusingly) Madrid´s exhausting, but so well worth it!

  2. What an exciting trip you had!

    I would love to see the El Museo del Traje museum, I also find the costumes for women back then fascinating and would love to know how they managed to squeeze a 30"+ waist down to a 23" or less and breathe at the same time!!

  3. Veo que al menos aprovechaste tu estancia super flash.

    Ya sabes para la próxima ... ;)

  4. Great blog. I've been in Spain 5 years and not yet to Madrid. You'd like the Picasso gallery in Barcelona - he does all those takes on the Velasquez. As for IKEA - come to Malaga, it's a breeze. Fly in, turn left, next motorway exit and there you are!

  5. Michelle Liebgott-OsingaJuly 29, 2011 at 3:52 AM

    Both of those museums sound great. I am so jealous that you went to El Prado! I have seen all of those paintings in my history books, and I wasn't even studying art from those eras/places. I would love to see them in real life.

  6. I was exhausted just reading about your weekend! But it sounds like so much fun.

    That museum of costumes is something I would love to see. I wonder if there are any like it here in the States. And I agree - people were tinier...MUCH tinier back when.

    Oh my gosh, those turtles!!!!!!!

    Have a great week!

  7. Maureen: I guess that when you live close to something like that you think "Oh well, I can go anytime", but usually you don't. I hadn't been to the Prado in over 20 years and we don't live all that far either, but when we pass through Madrid we're usually in a hurry and don't stop.

    Wanda: The Museo del Traje is very interesting, much more than I thought it would be. And the people were tiny all over, most of the things probably wouldn't even fit Catgirl and she's only 16. They had the tiniest feet too!

    Giozi: Sí, fue un viaje aprovechado al máximo. Me habría gustado verte, pero no hubo tiempo. Te llamo la próxima y quedamos.

    Puebloman: Oh, you should go, Madrid is fascinating. I didn't get to the Picasso gallery when I was in Barcelona, I guess I'll just have to go back. :D Um, I think the cost of flying to Málaga might just defeat the whole point of going to IKEA, but I wouldn't mind going to spend a few days on the beach.

    Michelle: Well, I think you'll need to come for a visit then. Just leave the kids with Jim, hop on a plane and we'll meet you in Madrid. Or you could all come...that would be really cool!

    ethelmae: It was fun, exhausting, but fun. I don't know about a costume museum in the States, but it's worth looking into. It's fascinating to see what people were capable of doing in the name of fashion...of course people still do a lot of strange things for that.

  8. Absolute num, from the costumes to the IKEA to the tired faces on the train. I laughed at the "Japanese pose," as that's TOTALLY what Byron and I howled about in Cappadocia all last year!

  9. Absolute num, from the costumes to the IKEA to the tired faces on the train. I laughed at the "Japanese pose," as that's TOTALLY what Byron and I howled about in Cappadocia all last year!

  10. I love Madrid, so much to see and really a very nice city. Did they have fun in Holland> Whereabouts did they go?

  11. Leave the kids behind! They have their whole lives before them!
    They can text "Open House" "Open House" while you are doing the Prada!
    Of course your house will be trashed when you get home . .

  12. Another fabulous museum you might want to try next time is Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas. Bygone IKEA??