We stayed in Madrid for only three days. I had wanted to see Picasso’s picture Guernica, and we did, and it was as moving as I had expected. The room at the Reina Sofia museum is set up to allow the viewer to see the studies he did for the completed painting. A film running continuously in an alcove depicts the horror of the Spanish civil war, and the events which led Picasso to paint Guernica. Most of the people who were there the day we saw it were Spanish. I can only imagine the impact the painting and the film had on them.

There was a general strike called during the time we were in Madrid.I understand that the media reported clashes with police and other violence. Didn’t happen where we were, near the Congress of Deputies. The night before there was a concert in support of the strike action in Plaza Sant Ana outside our hotel. We sat in the plaza, drank wine, ate tapas, sang along with the familiar protest songs, watched the children play. The only evidence of any official concern was a brief visit by three police. The next day there was heavy police presence, including helicopters flying constantly over the city, continuing into the evening.

We saw the Prado- including Las Meninas,Velasquez’s painting, called one of the, if not the most, important paintings in the history of Western art; Goya’s Third of May, 1808 and Second of May, 1808, the first having more impact for me than Guernica, because of the realistic depiction of the executions; and the Clothed and the Naked Maja.

Cleaning Plaza del Angel

The picture at left is of an amazing and amusing bronze in the neighbourhood of our hotel.

I  loved Madrid, its beauty, its museums, its vibe. I wish we had stayed longer.


Our vacation in Spain is drawing closer. Our hotel in Madrid is on Plaza Santa Ana, ringed with cafes, bars and a highly-rated restaurant! The hotel itself is in a converted office building– high ceilings and large windows overlooking the plaza. We hope to visit the Reina Sofia museum of modern art to see Picasso’s Guernica on the first day, if we aren’t too tired after the plane.

So much else to do and see in Madrid that it would likely take three weeks rather than the three days we have there to begin to see it all.

We leave Madrid by the AVE, the fast train to Seville, arriving at yet another hotel in a converted building, this one in Barrio Santa Cruz. We haven’t an plan for Sevilla, although visiting the cathedral, the third largest medieval in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, is on the list. We are there for three nights, before meeting Anne and Alan in Ronda.

The trip to Ronda will be an adventure: a bus trip through the Serrano Mountains. The owner of the villa we are renting promised to meet us that day and drive us to her finca(country property). She is also making dinner for us that evening. Visiting Ronda, a fabled town renowned in the nineteenth century for bandits and bullfights, should take at least two days of the seven we will be staying there. After that, visiting the Pueblos Blancos, the white villages, beginning, I think, with Arcos de la Frontera, the furthest from Ronda, situated on the edge of the sherry district. All the villages with frontera in their names were on the frontier, built for defence, high on the hills, the front lines of the battles to retake Spain from the Moors.

I can hardly wait!