Last summer, Andy and I made a trip to the far north, visiting old Australian friends in Sweden, and then travelling with them down to Riga, Latvia.
We enjoyed it.
And decided that we should make a habit of taking a long-ish holiday in the Summer that would allow us to relax while seeing a chunk of some region or another. (Turns out that long weekend trips, which we do a lot of, are great.. but relaxing they are not).
Anyway, my big two destination plans are still Iceland and New York. But Andy pushed hard for North of Spain or South of France.
Luckily for him, one of our work friends, Mercedes, recently submitted her thesis (WOHOO!!), and planned to head to her home city for a few weeks before she began a new job.
As you might have guessed from the name, Mercedes comes from Spain.
This decided things pretty firmly for a trip to Spain.
We flew into Madrid late in the evening, and took a fairly leisurely approach to starting the next day.
But oh how pretty that day was! After weeks of rain and moody weather in Berlin, Spain was declared as the perfect land of open blue.
It was also, very very hot. Not fully Perth hot, but more than our little Germanified bodies were used to.
Our leisurely morning first involved the two of us filling our bodies with as much tortilla sandwich as is humanly possible, and then wandering around some parts of the Madrid city centre.
I’m going to be honest. Stuffing food into our faces was a main theme of our Spanish journey. If you don’t like food, look away now.
This tortilla-fest might have been one of Andy’s favourite moments in the first 24 hours of Spain. Maybe that, and seeing the tortoises in the park.
As luck would have it, my newest office mate has spent a good part of the last years of his life in Madrid, and gave me a quick run-through of the ‘must visit’ before we left.
First up was the Temple of Debod, originally built in Egypt in 200 BC, and then rebuilt in Spain in the late 1960s. It was actually a gift from Egypt to Spain. Which, well…I would guess that ‘gifted’ is a fairly uncommon answer to the age old question ‘and how did you come by that beautiful ancient artefact?’
Although our local expert urged viewing at sunset, we had a train to catch out of the big smoke in the late afternoon, so we only took a glance under the heat of the midday sun.
Here’s a picture of us sweating, and the Temple basking in the sun it’s baked in for the last few millenia. Due to the aforementioned sun (or so we assume), we also couldn’t actually go inside the temple.
We jetted across the city to Lavapies station, and wandered down Calle Argumosa, with a rough aim to head slowly towards the northerly gardens and museum… and a much stricter aim of staying in the shade.
^ Even books couldn’t entice Andy into the sun.
We tried to spend some time in the Botanical gardens, but it soon became clear that 38 degrees is not the perfect weather for flower gazing.
We took refuge in the excessively pink, but delightfully cool Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
(One of, I think three, Mondrians!)
Did you ever watch Oscar and Lucinda? If not, then you should get on it now, because it’s an extremely lovely film, and Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett are brilliant in it.
Anyway, this kind of reminds me of the church that Lucinda wanted to build.
Plus, I’m a sucker for primary colour minimalism .Just look at that red and yellow against the deep blue sky!
It’s hard to find another word for perfect.
That’s all for Madrid folks. Our journey from the palace involved a short pause to look at tortoises that call the palace lake their home (check out Andy’s Insta), and a quick-march to the station.
Next stop in Spain, Valladolid: hometown of our favourite Spaniard.