Day 17 Merida to Madrid
A nice breakfast at the hotel before heading off on our last driving leg from Merida to Madrid. Again we avoided the tolls using Google Maps and still travelled in 120 KPH zones all the way to Madrid.
Finding where to drop the hire car at the Atocha Rail Station was not straight forward. Eventually I parked and asked a few taxi drivers until I found one who spoke English and advised me where to go. The car was unblemished.
The Avis/Budget return area arranged a cab for us and 15 minutes later we were in our two bedroom unit in Calle Arenal I’m the city centre.
This was a great spot to be based and it had a real bonus – a clothes washer/dryer so we were able to empty our dirty clothes bags and had clean gear for the remainder of the trip.
We then headed off outside to grab lunch and check out downtown Madrid, wandering around for a couple of hours. In our way home we stopped by a a supermarket to buy food to make home cooked breakfast, lunch and dinners.
I then was checking out the Prado art museum website and noted that Monday evening was free entry so we quickly grabbed a taxi and arrived 5 minutes before 6 o’clock for the two hour free session. We had not realised but earlier in the day we had been on the door step of the Prado at the fountain of Poseidon.
There were literally 100s of people queuing around the building and we patiently waited our turn and were inside the building within half an hour and visited a special exhibition of works by Fernando Zobel and then the main collection.
With only a bit over an hour available we only got a chance to skim the surface and saw a significant number if works by Anton Van Dyk, Peter Paul Rubens, Velazquez and Titian.
My favourite piece, however, was the Cardinal by Rafael. The skill involved in creating the fabrics and skin tones is extraordinary. That fridge magnet now sits proudly on the kitchen fridge.
We got home about 8 and called it a day.
Day 18 Madrid
Today slept in, getting up at 9. Tried to buy some milk but my walk around without Google maps found a closed mini market only so I bought some coffees from Starbucks.
After breakfast we purchased some two day tickets for the red bus hop on and off tour and walked to the Prado to catch our first ride. We did one full lap and then headed off to the Reina Sofia Museum but it was closed:(
We resigned to try again next day and went back to the unit for a break before heading out to lunch.
That was it for the day apart from some shopping.
We were tired of being away for home and counting down to the flight.
Day 18 Madrid
Today the plan was the Reina Sofia Museum which is for more modern art than the Prado.
For the first time I got to see multiple works by Salvador
Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and more. This was more way up my alley compared to the devotional and middle teen centuries.
If I was decorating my house it would be Miro, but it was a privilege to see how Dali and Picasso evolved their style as they aged. It was possibly my best gallery experience to date.
After a shared plate of dips at the museum’s restaurant we headed back to the bus stop to take the second, modern bus route and spent an hour or so checking out this beautiful city.
Dinner tonight was at Sobrino de Botín Restaurant in Madrid. Reputedly the world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant (since 1725). We opted for the Botin Experience which involved arriving one hour before 8pm opening for a tour of the restaurant from the old disused cellar to the top floor. The experience was worthwhile and the food was ok.
Day 19 Madrid – only priority for the day was to get to the airport for our 2pm flight.
We took a taxi for a fixed 30 Euro fare and had an uneventful trip to terminal 4.
When checking in we found that our original booking straight through to Brisbane via Dubai was still in place and were ticketed accordingly.
We are flummoxed why Qantas kept sending us flight info for a two day layover in Dubai. Spent nearly $600 on a hotel room that we did not need but the thought of spending more time on hold to Qantas is appalling.