We must be in Granada. Yes, we are in Granada. We awakened this morning at about 6 AM at our ¨hostal¨ in Madrid, just a ten minute walk from the Atocha railway station, and arrived at the station in plenty of time to catch the train to Granada. It was fine just to sit in a comfortable coach for four hours, after spending three plus solid days of mainly walking.
Carol and I left Miami a little after 6 PM on Friday, and arrived in Madrid about 9:30 AM Madrid time, getting only fitful sleep on the way over. The Madrid airport terminal is less than two years old, and simply striking in its beauty and function. We took a cab to the Central District and, even though it was early, our room was ready for us, with a very gracious hostess. Mary arrived safely from N.Africa that night.
¨Hostal¨ is a term of art, I think, and means a small hotel with limited services. but a few more than a ¨pension¨. (Ours was actually a hostal residencia, because it had no restaurant.) For us it means ¨cheaper¨ and also, because Carol and Mary carefully checked the particular place out on the internet before making the reservations weeks ago, clean and very convenient to the sights - about 5 minutes to El Prado por ejemplo.
We went Reina Sofia, the national museum of modern art, on Sunday morning, and it was free that day. There we saw Picasso´s Guernica. And then that evening we went to El Prado, also free, because it was Sunday after 5 PM. El Prado had opened a new section since we were there 6 years ago, a section featuring 19th century works, and I saw a huge painting of Queen Isabella having her Last Will prepared, apparently from her death bed. My heart went out not to the Queen, but to the poor lawyer transcribing it all at her bedside, with the rest of the family apparently gathered around. Naturally, we went by the museum store on the way out and I bought a print.
As we were waiting in line for El Prado, we discovered that the middle aged lady in front of us lives in Deerfield Beach, FL, although she is a Spaniard from the Basque country and, in her retirement from Proctor and Gamble, she lives in Madrid several months a year. Her grown daughter was there in line too, but had gone off for a Starbucks (I saw three Starbucks in Madrid!) She told us that Spain´s economy is struggling with the Euro (actually, we have been struggling with the Euro) and has other economic problems, but, as to the US, I was shocked that she equated President Bush with Venezuela´s Chavez. It made me understand even more thoroughly how unsuccessful the President has been in presenting a simpatico spirit to Europe and other parts of the world. But what a grotesque comparison.
And as I looked around Madrid, and even here in Granada, I saw a lot of construction and rehabilitation under way, including the ubiquitous tall cranes of the sort that have dominated Miami´s skyline for several years. So I am not so sure that Spain is doing all that poorly, even with its present socialist government. Spain had a very long way to come from Franco´s days, and it is by now a thoroughly modern place. Downtown Madrid reminded me of nothing so much as New York.
There is so much to write about, but I need to let Mary look at her emails, so I will sign off. (We are using a computer at the bed and breakfast, actually a sort of pension, where we are staying in Granada.) Adios, familia y amigos y amigas.