Kasteel Well Week 6-7: Madrid (Part I)
Spring Break! Well, not yet. Before our official travel break started we had to go to our final required excursion with the Castle staff to Madrid, Spain. Besides the fact that the temperature would be about triple the temperature at the Castle, I had no idea what to expect from our trip to Madrid. I was excited to see how much Spanish I remembered from my classes now that it has been about 5 years since I stopped studying the language. The results were rather disappointing. I remembered bits and pieces, I’d remember some words but wouldn’t be able to come up with the rest of the words to complete a sentence. But, if we needed to find the library, I had us covered. ¿Dónde está la biblioteca?
After checking into the hotels, we set off in small groups on a walking tour each led by a faculty member. I lucked out and ended up in Ralph Trost’s group – history professor who spent a year in Madrid to study the Spanish Civil War because he couldn’t find any German professors to teach him about it. He led us a little off the beaten path at some points to show us certain buildings of importance as well as pointing out where to find some good local food. We took his advice to heart and found a nice local restaurant for dinner.
Saturday morning started off with a visit to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) with Pieter Roelofs who used to be a professor at Kasteel Well but is now a curator at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The academy museum contains a small but important collection of Spanish artwork and we spent just the right amount of time in there. One of the cooler pieces for me was Francisco Goya’s self-portrait right next to his paint palette. Another painting that stuck out to me was one that made it look like the whole scene was lit from a candle in the center of the scene. As a film student, I’m often advised to study light and how it works, so it was interesting to see how a painter incorporated this several hundred years ago.
At lunchtime our group scattered inside the Mercado de San Miguel (St. Miguel’s Market), and we all met up outside with something totally different in our hands. I made it out with a few empanadas and a fruit smoothie. I would have been perfectly content with sitting in the sunny square and eating all day, but our itinerary had us walking over to the Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) where we spent a few hours there looking at many different eras of Spanish artwork.
After we finally escaped the museum (don’t get me wrong – I love art, but you hit a point where you’ve had enough in one day), three of us went back into the city center on a mission. Real Madrid was playing their rival FC Barcelona in Madrid so we wanted to catch the game on TV. We walked into the first bar we found with a TV, ordered a drink and stood against the wall just as they kicked off for the 2nd half. Tied at 1-1 coming out of the half, the game was close up until the last 5 minutes of regulation play when Real Madrid luckily got the ball into the goal and the bar exploded in applause. Knowing it wasn’t quite over, everyone anxiously stared the screens down until the ref blew the whistle three times and everyone let out a deep sign of relief followed by celebration.
I started collecting Hard Rock Café pins several years ago, so all of this travelling has almost turned every city into a Hard Rock hunt. I looked at their website to find out where the Madrid café is and off we went on the Metro. It was surprisingly simple directions, so after about 15 minutes of searching where it should be, I asked a hotel receptionist. He said, “It’s on this street, just about 3km that direction” as he pointed back towards our hotel. He marked it on my map and I figured it was a 10 minute walk from our hotel and I had about 40 minutes to get there and back before I had to tape the group’s flamenco lesson that night. It was a beautiful walk there mostly along a park and by a theater’s multicolored waterfall façade. Beautiful and about 30 minutes long. I spent less than 2 minutes in the shop, stuffing the pin and my receipt in my pocket as I started running down the street. Once I hit the first crosswalk, my jacket came off and my run became a full sprint. Telling myself, the run was quidditch training, I somehow made it back to the hotel in 6 minutes, ran up the 5 flights of stairs, into my room, grabbed my camera, and made it to the group as they started to walk to the dance studio. Mission accomplished.
As we did so much over travel break, I broke the week up into more posts so I didn’t write a novel. Links to all of the parts are here: