Appreciating the Prado, Westin Palace and Zara in Madrid

The final destination of our 14 day excursion to warm and sunny Spain was Madrid, where we spent two days puddle-jumping, seeking refuge from the torrential rain and trying to shake off the damp and unpleasant cold. By now you must be so sick and tired of having to continuously read about the incessant rain in Spain, but how do you think we felt, having to endure day after day of unrelenting rainfall?   It was no wonder then, that my travel buddy (Oz) booked himself on a flight to Florida upon our return to Canada, as the lack of Mediterranean sun had sent him away shivering, desperate for the warmth of a hot and sunny locale.

Even though our journey was approaching an end and I would be back home more than 48 hours later and blissfully re-claim my woolly sweaters, shawls and parkas, I was unable to endure the cold any longer and I was forced spent the last of my Euros on a winter coat.

I’ve re-iterated this countless times, and have obviously failed miserably at following my own advice, but it is essential that you pack for all types of weather, as you never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you.  It did seem as though She was being particularly hostile to us by holding the sun hostage and unleashing the curse of Neptune upon two sun-starved Canadian travellers.

So, I now had less than two days in which to tour the world-famous Prado Museum, visit the Royal Palace, hunt for treasures in the flea markets, shop along the Gran Via, all the while keeping my eyes open for the latest designer winter coat at a bargain basement price. Yikes!! My pink-sneakered feet are really going to be in for some heavy-duty pavement pounding.



Staying at the opulent Westin Palace hotel, located just steps away from the Prado Museum and Royal Palace, I was able to kill two birds with one stone and scurry around the outside of the museum, and hastily snap pictures of the magnificent architecture. I consoled myself with the thought that since a full day was needed in order to fully appreciate the priceless masterpieces inside, I would forgo setting foot in the museum and opt to purchase an illustrated glossary instead. An added bonus was that I now had some reading material for the plane ride home!

 Having freed up a couple of hours, I was now able to devote the remainder of the day to searching for a chic, designer European labelled winter coat. The allure of the shop vitrines with their promises of transformation, invitingly beckoned to my inner shopaholic. It’s cliché to say or admit, but my Chanel, Gucci and Carolina Herrera tastes were unattainable on a Zara budget. I had blown all of my spending money on a long for coveted limited edition Carolina Herrera satchel and had spent the remainder of my vacation frugally pinching pennies. I even contemplated earning some extra dough by impersonating the human statues that perform for a few coins on the streets of Barcelona (See October 31st post “Rambling along Las Ramblas).

Before heading out to the shops along the Gran Via, Oz and I needed to fill our tummies and have a bite to eat. Since we were staying at the Westin Palace for free, courtesy of my travel buddy’s frequent flier points, we decided to splurge on breakfast and dine in the spectacular stained glass domed dining room, La Rotonda. Hesitantly placing my pink sneakered foot into the main entrance of the resplendent dining hall, I was mesmerized by the opulence and magnificence of the brilliance of the light streaming through the intricate glass domed ceiling. Wow!! So this is where royalty feasts, entertains and idles away their leisure time! Never have I seen such an abundance of Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton handbags, perched aristocratically upon the sequin bedazzled arms of the impeccably clothed patrons.

Hoping against hope that management would not kick us to the curb for sporting canvas keds, jeans, and Canada logo sweatshirts and not being attired head to toe in European designer duds, we were instead graciously escorted to a table, handed a menu and asked whether or not everything was to our satisfaction. Whew!! Scanning the exorbitantly priced menu, we eventually settled upon the buffet of appetizers and desserts for the somewhat affordable price of 23 Euros each! Our waiter, Prince Charming himself, could not have been more hospitable and courteous.

Pinkie extended, delicately holding a porcelain china teacup, I was momentarily transported back in time to an era where life was simpler, proper etiquette was the norm and where horse-drawn carriages whisked velvet and gold embroidered jewel clad mademoiselles from one magnificent ball to another. Daydreaming, lost in my thoughts, my Cinderella moment came crashing to an end when the fragile Limoges teacup slipped out of my hands and shattered into a million pieces onto the floor. Yikes!!

Come enjoy tea and crumpets in the luxuriously elegant Westin Palace with me...come travel with me...

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