Sunday, May 10, 2020

Virtual Tour of Spain: Day Three: El Rastro, Mercado San Miguel, Museo del Prado (May 10, 2020)

Welcome to our "Virtual Tour of Spain" May 8 to 22, 2020!
Day Three: Sunday, May 10, 2020
1) El Rastro - Flea Market Heaven!
2) Mercado San Miguel for Lunch
3) Museo del Prado: Goya and More!

Whoa!  Our "almost 80 degrees" temperature during yesterday's walk through Madrid to Retiro has now chilled to the high 50's as we awake.  High today will be about 65 so we'll grab a light jacket.  Might be a chance of rain, but we see mostly sunny skies this morning.  Yesterday we walked about 4 miles as we meandered from our hotel past Plaza Mayor and on to Parque del Retiro.  The lake in Retiro was beautiful.  Today's adventure will take us on a significant walk, though just about the same overall distance -- about 4 miles.  Some thoughts about yesterday (Saturday):
  • Walking Madrid's streets it's easy to go off on the wrong direction ... we like to set up Google maps on our phone and then use an earphone for verbal directions, keeping the phone well out of sight in my jacket's inside pocket.
  • Walking four miles you get hungry!  We stopped along the way for tapas and Orangina and water.
  • Retiro park was perfect to have a place to sit and reflect on the amazing city of Madrid.
Today's Walking Map for Orientation
Our walk today takes us from our hotel in center city south to el Rastro, then back north to Mercado San Miguel for something to eat and drink, and then off to spend the afternoon at the Prado. Here's the overall map view of our walk, spanning about four miles:

First: El Rastro!
I don't think I will ever tire seeing and walking through El Rastro ... El Rastro de Madrid or just "el Rastro" is the most popular open air flea market in Madrid, held every Sunday from 9am through 3pm.  It's located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo.  Today, in our virtual tour, we have several great YouTube videos to share with you to let you take in el Rastro with all its adventure and color and shoulder-to-shoulder browsing and shopping.  Don't bring visible cameras, purses, backpacks.  Just travel lightly today with no visible valuables.  El Rastro is fun, but also we have to be vigilant about pick-pocket opportunists.

First video is only two minutes.  Ruben is our guide through the streets of the market.  You can turn on Closed Captions (CC symbol at bottom) ... provides Spanish language closed captions.

In our virtual tour today, we have two more YouTube visits to el Rastro ... Up next is a short one-minute burst through el Rastro! Enjoy!

Finally, an eight-minute YouTube video that starts as the stalls are being set up, and goes through the morning.  It is the most real-world visit in our Virtual Tour :)

Next: Mercado de San Miguel
We've spent about two and a half hours wandering through el Rastro ... getting hungry!  So now we are off to the north again.  Destination: Mercado de San Miguel.  The Mercado is a covered market originally built in 1916, bought by investors in 2003 who renovated the iron structure and reopened it in 2009 (per Wikipedia).  Today it features gourmet tapas, vinos, cervezas, just the perfect stopover after our wandering through el Rastro. I love this next YouTube video ... it's five minutes, and a great walk-through of Mercado de San Miguel! Yum! Here we go!

Next: Museo del Prado
Our jewel of the day is our visit to the Museo del Prado.  Entry fee is 7.5 Euros per person for those  65 and over.  Today, Sunday, it's open between 10am and 7pm.  After our visit to el Rastro this morning and food and refreshments at Mercado San Miguel, it's about 2pm.  Perfect time for us to spend about three hours here before the crowds come in for the free entry Sunday 5 to 7pm.  Believe me, it's worth spending 7.5 Euros and exit about 5pm just before the "free entry" begins and el Prado becomes much more crowded.

I've always enjoyed a unique approach to el Prado: go to take in Goya's early portraits and earlier works and then contrast that with his dark period as he neared the end of his life.  Those are the Goya paintings that were the core of our MHS '65 Yearbook transition pages.   The concentration on Goya serves well -- it allows a very fine-tuned focus to our visit.  Prado can be overwhelming with its rich collection.  I've enjoyed coming to know Goya's work there by spending a lot of time ONLY on his work ... then a quick walk through the rest of the museum.  Again, we'll turn to YouTube for some excellent video time at the Prado, with the same approach.  We'll concentrate on Goya, but then get a good overview of el Prado as a whole.  First up is a ten minute YouTube visit with emphasis on Goya.  Here we go:

Here's a real treat!  Goya's drawings on paper are not part of the general collection on view. So we turn to Jose Manuel Matilla, Head of the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Prado, to walk us through Goya's drawings. In Spanish with English subtitles.  16 minutes in length, but I believe well worth it!

Now that we've spend a good amount of time on Goya's work, and following my suggestion to first spend "quality time" with Goya, and then get a quick overview of the remainder of the Prado's amazing collection, here's a "Three Minute Tour of Museo del Prado" ... great overview outside and inside:

Finally, there's a great 4-minute TED Talk focusing on Prado's Las Meninas ("The Ladies-in-waiting"), a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age. This will wrap up our visit to the Prado.

That's our DAY THREE!  Enjoy your dinner ... pack your things tonight for our departure from Madrid early tomorrow for a day trip to Toledo followed by our train to Cordoba tomorrow evening. I suggest you get up super early so that you can have one last treat ... chocolate and churros at Madrid's historic Chocolatería San Ginés at Pasadizo de San Ginés 5, serving chocolate and churros since 1894! Sleep well and see you tomorrow for our next adventures!


UP NEXT TOMORROW:  Chocolate and Churros, Toledo, Evening in Cordoba

Links to prior days of our Virtual Tour of Spain:

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