San sebastian and Madrid

31 07 2005
Ok well i´ve got a little while untill my flight so i can update on what i´ve been up to .
 San sebastian was great. There´s not much in the way of great backpacker tourist locations there (the number 1 attraacvtion in the lonely p,lanet is the aquarium – which didn´t look much chop) but it has nice beaches (gorgeous by european standards – we are spoiled back in oz) nice weather gorgeous old architecture and just has a really cool vibe. the jazz festival was on while i was there and my days consisted of going to the beach with a few new friends from the hostel and then out to the jazz on the beach at night. Throw in lots of beer and tapas (little gourmet bits of food you get with beer) and it was a good time.
Then i caught the bus down to madrid. while waiting for the bus (it left at 11.30pm) I was soo tired after the last few days partying that i fell asleep on the platform while some poor argentinian guy who had to wait till 6 in the morning for his bus was trying to make conversation with me. I woke up and apologised and then wen´t back to sleep. As soon as i got on the bus i fell asleep and didn´t wake till 7 hours later we pulled into madrid. 3 minutes after that i was navigating the madrid metro rail system (which is much more complex than the melbourne one). I actually didn´t get lost and ended up at the cats hostel. The cats hostel is what all hostel´s should be like, It has great facilities and is set in a beautiful old Moorish style building. More importantly they have a bar attached to the hostel where you get 1 litre cups of beer for €2.50. It´s been a great place to meet people and on my first day here lone 10 lone travelers coalesced into a big group for drinking games and then onto the clubs of madrid. Interesting people have come and gone every day but i´ve been hitting the town with a good sized crew every night.
I´ve made one or two good friends here – one guy Paul .. "born in philly, lives in missipi" has this long southern accent and covered in tattoo´s: first impression – he´s about the last person on earth you´d pick to have a degree in sociology and completing a masters in spanish linquistics. He really busts up the stereotypes thats for sure. It´s been great to hang out with when im not seeing the sites and speaks spanish which has made it easier.
I´ve been persevering with museums and have gone to the thyssen-baroness museum which had a a chronological structure to it´s galleries. SO i was able to go through and look at the different styles and evolution of european painting from the primitives to the gothics to the classicissts, dynamists, impresionists, post impresionists etc… So now i can tell what a painting is and to an extent hazzard an educated guess at what country it was painted in. This was good but i still wasn´t really appreciating the art. It was more a game to see if i could guess the origin and date a painting was done.
Anyway i went to the prado museum the next day and approached it totally differently. Didn´t have to try and work out what i was supposed to be looking for and found that yeah there´s alot of obvious skill in the paintings.  Most of the big names in painting were there up to the modernist period. Raphael, Carrevegio, Rubens, Velazsquez etc. I  really liked Titian´s pieces and it was interesting to see the progression in Goya´s work and i really like his later stuff. El greco, and El Bosco both had great stuff too.  That said i still don´t like the modernist pieces i saw, and i´m not blown away by paintings –  don´t know hom many more art galleries i´ll go to.
I´ve also been to the cathedral in madrid -(which although massive lacks the charecter and style of other cathedrals i´ve seen) and the Royal palace. The royal palace is amazing. The decadence of the palace really cannot be shown through photographs. Priceless chandeliers and paintings´s and ornaments  in every room.  I spend a fair few hours admiring the palace interior. Great collection of medieval weaponry in the armory as well.
Well thats the update. Soon i´ll be catching up with Bongers, Owen and Toppa to take eastern europe by storm!



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