Thursday, September 22, 2011

PHOTOS: Churros, cathedrals and guys with red pants in Madrid

These are the last batch of Madrid photos - *collective sounds of disappointment from the crowd* - but not to fret, I have lots of other photos lined up for the coming weeks, if I've not had a major work-related meltdown by that time.

So let's enjoy the sun once more...

Just some pretty pictures of Spanish architecture.

On the second (and final) night I was there, we went back to Chueca, to the same street we ate at the night before and tried a different restaurant. It was way more expensive, with almost fine dining type meals but in a cosy atmosphere. They didn't have what I wanted, so the waiter recommended a weird-sounding dish. Turned out to be half-boiled eggs with croutons and truffles. It was really delicious!

I told Baker Jo I couldn't leave without having 1. tapas, 2. churros, 3. sangria.

So on Sunday morning, we went to the bakery opposite her hotel again and had churros with the thickest chocolate ever (frachely, you will be speechless with delight) for only € 3,50. The churros was light and not at all oily like you get in other countries, and the chocolate was so thick that we had to leave half of our cups full :( Take that, WIP. Hey Mumsy Bumsy, I hope they make their chocolate sauce thick by the time I get back to KL.

Then we went to do some cultural sightseeing. Heading towards the church at the bottom of the street there.

One of the most.beautiful.churches.ever.

I can hardly agree with protestants with their "we should be humble and we don't need distractions like beautiful paintings and sculptures to worship God" when I see places like this. I think beauty and majesty like this makes me feel even more religious and in awe of man's humble efforts to portray the heavens. It makes me feel that if I'm calling this beautiful, the real thing is going to be beyond anything we can ever imagine.

The grandeur of the whole space makes me feel more honoured to be in there and to know that I'm welcome at any time.

I feel so tiny and humble under those huge sculptures of the saints.

Perfect place for meditation and prayer. All around the circular hall there are around 8 of these little chapels surrounding the main congregational area.

And on to more friendly and down-to-earth places. I found this kinda cute, I don't know about you.

Wanted a photo of something saying 'Madrid'.

I like what the guy with the red pants was wearing. The whole outfit looked super cool. And this angle doesn't do anything for his butt, but I'm pretty sure he looked alright in real life.

Look. Then look again.

Okay I'm off to the Spar supermarket now. I haven't mentioned that the Spar bakery is actually surprisingly good! I've tried their chocolate cake, cookies and plain rolls and croissants and they're all so nice. Give it a try if you feel curious!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

PHOTOS: A bit of culture in Madrid at the Reina Sofia and the Prado.

Okay, guys and gals, after such a gloomy day yesterday, it's time to fly back to sunny Madrid...

Did I already mention that I stayed at the Chic & Basic Atocha? It was Baker Jo's recommendation, since she was staying up the road (and up a hill, but I know I've already said that). I checked out their website and they were having a deal, where a double bed is cheaper than a single bed. Awesome!!!

I really like this hotel. It was very basic, but very nice. Correction, it was a very basic hotel, so it was definitely much better than a hostel or any so-called 'hotel' you can get in Central Paris. I really feel quite fond of it and my room. I would go back to stay there in a flash!

The reception guys were very nice (I saw two during my stay there) and the room was really cosy and modern. It might have been a little tight for two people to stay, but for me, it was PERFECT. I can't stop gushing about this room. The bathroom was a really nice size, with a big shower and enough room to walk in. The sink was outside the bathroom, in the room, which was a little strange at first impression, but it didn't affect anything. It was even actually nice to brush my teeth and wash my face in the room instead of in a small bathroom. It just feels... cosier.

The amenities like coffee/tea and biscuits are all free in the lobby, and it was great to be able to make my own coffee with chocolate powder and a dash of cinnamon to go, and grab a couple of biscuits from the jar then walk up the hill with them. So convenient! Even Baker Jo grabbed an apple while she visited.

Sorry, no photos of my room. This is the lobby and the lift is at the end of the brick wall and to the right.

The blessed coffee and tea machine with all the powders you can add to your beverage.

One of the walls had an interesting illustration.

Our first museum visit was to the Reina Sofia, the modern art museum. Just a short 7-minute walk from my hotel.

The Reina Sofia is a converted hospital.

Caught this scene as I was walking down the corridor.

We only had time (and energy) for one big exhibition. I'm glad we saw this one. It was quite amazing (and shows how bonkers this woman is).

I would really like this in my home please.

Those things on the right really give me the shivers. Ew.

Ms Kusama apparently had an obsession for infinity and space. She created this room of mirrors and lights especially for this exhibition. I also want this in my home please. Btw, it reminds me of the corridor between Starhill and J.W. Marriott in KL.

I like how people left me alone to take my photos in solitude.

Where's Wally #2.

The newly-built extension of the Reina Sofia. On the rooftop.

This is supposed to be some famous sculpture. I think it's really ugly.


I love the mirror effect that's so clear.

After the realisation that I wouldn't have time to go to the Prado with them the next evening because I would be flying back to Amsterdam, we hurried to the Prado museum with only half an hour left to spare. So I quickly selected what I had to see and we went in search of the rooms.

When I took the last two photos, we were in search of Las Meninas by Diego Velásquez. I hadn't actually heard of it before (shame on me), but the guidebook said that this is one of the great works that really give the Prado museum its distinction in the world.

So we were walking down this corridor hurriedly, looking for the right hall, when my eye was suddenly caught by the most amazing sight I'd ever seen. I called to the other two and told them that I just had to check it out quickly before continuing our search.

Lo and behold...

I had never seen anything that caught my eye so much as this. This is Las Meninas. And none of the photos of this painting come close to doing it any justice.

When my eye fell on this masterpiece while walking in the corridor, all I saw was this huge dark patch on the wall at the far end, with a bright, shining piece in the centre. This was obviously the star of the hall. I repeat, I had never seen anything so amazing as this in my life. I have seen the Mona Lisa, Night Watch, many Caravaggios and many Renaissance masterpieces, but this takes the cake. I'd thought that I'd become numb to seeing great works and nothing would impress me anymore except if I'd read the background and the stories about the paintings. But this one... I could just stare at it for hours without having to read anything about it and still be in love.

I'm aware that everyone has his own taste, so maybe this won't affect you like it did me, but I'm glad that I saw this painting once in my lifetime, telling me that great works are still able to impress me with the quality of the work alone. I never knew that this was on my list of things to do before I die, but I think that my life is a whole lot more fulfilled after seeing Las Meninas.

Housewarming party invite drawing

I'm just gonna quickly post this up on my blog to free one spot on my desktop ;) My desktop is a big mess this week (it normally is as pristine as a minimalistic home) because of my insane work. Had to copy and create folders on the fly and have not had time to organise anything anywhere except on my desktop.

This is the invite I sent to people for our housewarming party. Photos of that coming up btw, although I think most of you will have seen it already on Facebook. I will just select a few of my favourite ones to put here, I guess.

Heading out soon for dinner at a nice-looking restaurant across the bridge on the Kop van Zuid. Looking forward to it!