Those lovely people at Easyjet were having a sale. So rather than ignore their generous offer I decided that I could burn a hole in the ozone as big as two million cow-farts by taking a trip from London to Madrid and back in the space of just one day. Well at a mere thirty-quid it would have been churlish not to, wouldn’t it?
This did require me to rise at the crack of dawn and return home at very late o’clock. However I did get to spend around seven hours in Madrid. This is probably long enough for anybody, seeing as there’s no beach and Spanish women are relatively well covered up.
My intention had been to go to two art galleries and to eat one of their local delicacies, a fried squid sandwich. As to why the latter should be so important is a long story and involved my father being fatally mauled by a giant squid whilst swimming off the coast of Newfoundland. Hence it was a matter of family honour more than anything. I was also keen to see Picasso’s famous painting Guernica at the Reina Sofia gallery and the collection of Goyas at the Prado.
Whilst such itineraries may sound culturally noble, here’s a tip for any traveller that intends to fly well over a thousand miles to mooch around a couple of art galleries. Make sure that they’re open on the day you visit.
This is important because, no matter how hard you hammer on the door, they don’t seem that bothered that you’ve travelled half way around the planet to see their paintings and that you’re hardly likely to ‘come back tomorrow, Signor’.
No amount of swearing in English will cajole them into letting you in, and neither will the local police sympathise with your situation. This is especially so when you’ve just questioned as to whether both they, and the curator jobsworths grinning at you from a first floor window, still report to Franco or not.
As the Renia Sofia gallery was indeed closed on Tuesdays I had myself an early lunch of fried squid in a baguette, washed down with more than a couple of fizzy beers. Fortunately the other big art gallery, the Prado, was open. Otherwise I would have spent all day gorging myself on squids. The Prado is big enough to keep any art enthusiast occupied for most of the day. So, in hindsight, I’d have been struggling to fit the other gallery in….so ‘yah boo sucks’ to them.
Unlike most galleries I’ve been to around the world the Prado allow you to take photos. I’ve never understood why galleries get so sniffy about the issue of photography. I would have thought it would have done much less harm to the pictures than me using my tracing paper.
Apart from having badly publicised gallery opening hours, Madrid is a very clean city and the subway stations are spotless. It is probably the most hygienically maintained metro in the world. Indeed they arrived with mops and buckets within minutes of me throwing up my greasy combination of fried squid and beer.
Update: After a more recent trip I have to say that the sanitary excellence of the Madrid Metro is not what I thought it to be. On closer inspection of the platform wall I could still see the splash stains of the previous year’s gastric outpourings. I think standards are slipping.
See my other attempts to upset the Spanish by clicking here