Our tour director asked me which city I preferred, Barcelona or Madrid. They are both beautiful, with much to offer in the way of culture, architecture, history, etc. Barcelona is vibrant and has a more casual and touristy feel. Madrid is also vibrant, but perhaps more elegant and serious. I enjoyed both cities, but I would like to take more time exploring Madrid some day.
While we were there we visited the Prado museum. No photos were allowed inside, and the outside is nothing special. There are some wonderful works of art inside, though. I particularly like Velasquez' "Las Meninas" for its interesting perspectives and the variety of stories that could be told about the painting. While in Barcelona I visited the Picasso Museum during some free time and saw Picasso's interpretation(s) of the same painting. Loved the contrast.
There were also a number of Bruegels that I enjoyed, especially since I saw several of his paintings in Vienna during our summer trip. I like scenes of everyday life with the details that must have seemed so commonplace long ago, but are interesting and strange to us in the present.
I spent some free time in Madrid wandering the paths of the El Retiro Park, where royals once went to spend time away from court life. It was shady and cool under the trees and I enjoyed a bit of solitude, something rare on a school trip.
We visited the Royal Palace in Madrid. It's currently used only for state occasions and is a large complex, of which we saw a very small part. The entrance hall is stunning, with golden light pouring in from the bull's eye windows. Again, there were very few areas where photos were allowed, so I didn't take any.
However, I was so, so tempted to pull out my phone and surreptitiously snap a few in one room. Our guide kept pointing out the ceilings with their ornate paintings and saying who painted this or that. He offhandedly mentioned the HAND-EMBROIDERED silk wall coverings in the rooms. Now they were gorgeous! So beautifully done. The Chinese Room, so-called because of many Chinese porcelains and decorations, had vines and flowers all over the walls, stitched with a variety of threads thick and thin so that the stitching stood out 1/4-1/2 inch from the walls. And these are large rooms. Room after room was covered with hand-stitched silk. Never mind the paintings, I thought, just think of the many, many women who spent their lives, one stitch at a time, creating this magnificence. They are the ones who should be honoured.
In the palace gift shop I saw this pretty silk scarf and bought it for myself. It's soft and bright and I love the way it sets off my often grey/black clothing.
Here are a few shop windows. The accessories are so beautiful, and burgundy is a strong theme for this autumn season. It might be called merlot this year, but it's all rosy hues.
Here's the grey/cream/black basic wardrobe style that I love, and then add coloured accessories.
So that's a wrap for Spain. I saw and did much more, but it's time to move on. And I have not yet finished posting about our trip in the summer. Hey ho, we'll see what happens.
I hope your week is going well! Thanks for visiting.