Category Archives: Spain

Los grafitis de Madrid

I have to say that one thing that has struck me by surprise is the amount of graffiti in Madrid. Almost any surface that you could graffiti has been graffitied. The sad part is even the beautiful historical monuments, buildings, etc haven’t been spared. In those cases, most of it has been cleaned, but you can still see it faintly. It definitely adds character to the city for better or worse.

Here are some examples I thought to take photos of:

Madrid Day 2: Mas Turismo

Today I met up with a coworker or two and we went to Parque Del Retiro, the Reina Sofia and capped the day off with a tapas crawl down Calle Cava Baja.

The park was our first stop. Unfortunately it was a pretty gloomy/foggy morning, but it added a pretty cool vibe that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The park is pretty sizable and around every corner you have manicured bushes, or monuments, or playgrounds, etc. The highlight for me was actually a man-made pond in the center where folks can row around charles river style. I thought it was cool that you could do this as an activity in the middle of a park, AND the pond was next to an amazing monument (check out the pictures). If I were a more ambitious person, this would be the perfect place to go for a run in the morning. Beautiful and quiet.

After doing a full lap around the park, we decided to head over to the Reina Sofia and get a little culture (hopefully a bit more exciting than the Prado, though). Once we got there, we went directly to the highlight of the museum: Picaso’s Guernica. Instead of me trying to recount what I learned about the piece, here’s a quick abstract from the linked wikipedia article:

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. Upon completion, Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention.

The painting is really more of a mural, it’s gigantic. And for a painting that doesn’t have much detail (in the traditional sense) compared to its size, you find yourself seeing something new every time you look away and look back. I think we spent a solid 30 min just looking at it. Definitely worth the price of admission, and it was just one painting! After the Guernica, we made our way through the rest of the museum. The highlights for me were definitely the paintings by Picaso and by Dali. The rest of the museum was hit or miss for me. I think I might be spoiled a bit by the Tate, MOMA, and even the ICA.

From the Reina Sofia we headed back to the hotel, and I’m pretty sure I passed out for a bit. But once I woke up, a couple coworkers and I met in the lobby for our tapas crawl! The street (Calle Cava Baja) is just tapas bar after tapas bar. We went to three or four, and everything we ate was fantastic — and cheeeaaap. Beers for as cheap as .70 euros, tapas for 3 or 4 euros. It was just fantastic — and delicious! The crawl was a great way to end the weekend before our tumble in the world of Sales Kickoff.

Madrid Day 1 (part 2): Prado Blahdo, and The Big Sleep

Oh man. This afternoon was a total bust! I had high hopes of going to the Prado, exploring Madrid some more, getting tapas, etc. I did end up hitting the Prado — but not much else.

Not just your every day deli counter

Not just your every day deli counter

Before I get into the afternoon, I have to note that I had a pretty cool lunch. A couple coworkers and I went to this place that looks quite a bit like a deli counter. Instead of ordering a sandwich and leaving, though, you actually just stand at the counter and eat (and, in most cases, drink — a lot). I ahve to say, actually, there was more drinking that eating at this particular lunch. Each round of beers (70 cents per beer, btw) came with some tapas. One round we got some disgusting paste-pockets, the next some jamon serrano sandwiches, then chorizo and potato chips. I have to say, it was great and cheap.

But then things took a turn. First off — the Prado was huge and booorrrriiinnnngggg. Despite seeing “one of the most important paintings in the history of art” (credit: my audio guide), I really found that this type of art just bores the life out of me! Not much more to say about it. Just got bored. Combine the boredom with jet-lag, and you get NapTime! And nap I did… from 6pm to 1:30am.


Prado Blahdo Selfie

At 1:30, the day picked up a bit. I woke up, called Lucia cause I miss her crap loads, and decided I’d try to find some dinner! Spaniards have a reputation for eating dinner late — but apparently not this late. I rolled up to a few restaurants right as they were closing up shop. No big deal, I wasn’t that hungry anyway. I moseyed on back to the hotel (in no rush), and poked in the hotel restaurant to see if anything was happening there…nothin. That’s when I heard a ruckus like people were partying! Thinking it was a bar that was still open in another part of the hotel, I decided to investigate. Low and behold I had stumbled on a Pega Patriots game viewing party that I forgot was happening! Tons of people drinking and having a great time, so I hung out there for a bit and said hi to all the Pega folks I hadn’t seen in a while. It ended up being a great night and they even had some food (pizza, wings, sliders…I made them get some Tortilla Espanola, cause — you know…we’re in spain, not the US).


Goya — Malta Goya

At around 4:30am I went back to my room and read a bit (I’m reading the Ender Quintet, so easy and so fun), and finally around 6am I went back to sleep. 7:30am starts the next day, so stay tuned!

As this second half was a bit of a bust, and since the Prado doesn’t allow photos, I don’t really have any to post. I think I might have a couple on my iPhone that I’ll throw in here, but don’t set your expectations too high =)

Madrid Day 1 (part 1): Twenty Thousand Steps and it Aint Even Lunch

So this morning I did a TON of walking. The plan was to head to the Palace, walk around the city a bit, and then head to the Prado after lunch. So far so good, except I walked way more than I planned!

I woke up quite early (around 6:30am) and headed down to the buffet breakfast. This was probably the most intense buffet I’ve ever seen. It had Churros, dark chocolate, omelets, doughnuts, and, of course, the standards — eggs bacon, sausage, cereal, meats/cheese, etc… After breakfast I put my plan together and was off. From the hotel I headed down Calle Mayor towards the Royal Palace of Madrid. On the way I made a couple scenic stops at Puerta Del Sol, and Plaza Mayor. The Palace was nice, but the view of the city was even better. Unfortunately I didn’t get a great picture of it, but you really see rolling country side next to dense city. It’s pretty neat. After the Palace, I stumbled through a couple parks: the Plaza de Oriente and Jardines de Sabatini.

At this point, it was still only like 9:15am — so instead of heading back to the hotel to wait for the museum to open, I figured I’d just walk aimlessly towards all the things that looked interesting. So to start I backtracked a bit because when I looked at the map it seemed most of the city was in that direction. Along the way I stopped to take photos of small parks, or cool alleys, or really anything cool looking. I ended up at a rotary with a huge monument in it, and as I’m trying to figure out the best place to take a photo, I see far in the distance what looked like a bridge over a river! It was pretty far off the track I had planned, but whatever, I had no place to be.

So when I got to the river, I was happy to find a really amazing park that folks were biking and jogging down along the “river.” I put river in quotes, because it looked more like a drainage ditch that they made pretty. Along with the park was also a very cool looking walking bridge, which I proceeded to head towards. You have to walk through the cool bridge if it’s there. So I did.

At this point, I had no idea where I was, but didn’t want to go back the way I came (and I didn’t have a map or anything), so I just headed in the direction of the hotel. Not too many points of interest came of this part of the walk, but I definitely stumbled upon a ton of interesting squares, and streets packed with bakeries, restaurants, shopping — you name it.

Ultimately, if you couldn’t tell, I made it back to the hotel just before lunch (around 11:30am), and I’m wrapping up this post just in time to head out and eat!

I’ll post photos tonight when I have some extra time. Loving Madrid so far! can’t wait to check out the Prado this afternoon.

Barcelona Day 3 (and 4): Details are fuzzy…

So it’s been a while since this actually happened. Giving you a play by play account is going to be tough. The general events were as follows:

Day 3:
1. we woke up
2. we started walking towards the beach
3. we took a detour through some tiny alleys
4. we got lost
5. we found the beach!
6. we met up with Lorena and Maurizio
7. we took the cable car up to Montjuic
8. we checked out the fort
9. we slid down a slide!
10. we headed to dinner at a mall that used to be a bull fighting ring!
11. we watched the fountains — it was awesome
12. went to sleep — exhausted.

Day 4:
Unfortunately no pictures from my last day in Barcelona, but we went out of city to a beach that was pretty nice. It was a little too cold to swim. Fortunately there was a 36-ish foot sailboat that had been beached. That kept us entertained as the coast guard spent the next hour or two getting it off the beach. Good times had by all.