I’ll be landing at Barajas airport in 87 days.
I’ve fired up the app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dreamdays-countdown-to-days/id585947384?mt=8 that does a automatic countdown. When I peek at it, I get a little frisson of anticipatory pleasure. The Mary Cassatt painting of a matador in his suit of lights is my Dreamdays trip image. Is he lighting up in the spirit of a final smoke before the firing squad, or in a post-coital mood, spent with relief at surviving his bullfight? Now that the holidays are over, I’m buckling down to research, accumulating possibilities for my day by day planner, and pre-booking tickets and museum passes.
Most of the museums I plan to see have pages on Facebook and I spent a happy couple of hours making a new Madrid/Lisbon interest list for my newsfeed. I’m now getting updates that give me glimpses of the paintings and treasures I’ll be seeing in person. And hooray for that handy ‘translate’ tab at the bottom of foreign language posts. It’s not perfect, but I get the gist.
Filled in the April day-by-day calendar with preliminary excursions and quickly realized there won’t be enough hours in the days or days in the month to fit in everything I’d like to see. Decisions must be made – El Escorial or the Royal Palace? I’ll take those kinds of inquiries to www.TripAdvisor.com which has never failed to give me cogent advice.
Figuring out which days museums are closed, what holiday to be aware of, the best days and times to visit is a lovely puzzle. I like having rain vs shine options too. Getting those all-important museum passes that permit me to bypass lines will gain me time that otherwise I might have squandered. I’ve booked one tour, with Context Travel. I’ve had excellent experiences with them in the Vatican Museum and Rembrandt’s House in Amsterdam.
I yearned to stay at the Hotel Orfila for my last five days in Madrid, but it’s really pricey, and I worried it couldn’t possibly be as lovely as I imagined. Then I came across this on the Wendy Perrin travel site: “Best bang-for-your-buck hotel -Orfila, a 32-room hotel housed in a nineteenth-century palace that feels more like a family home than a five-star Relais & Chateaux property. It is located only 15 minutes by foot from the Prado Museum in a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood. Rooms are furnished in top-quality antiques that the owner has been collecting for years, and there is a beautiful garden for guests to enjoy. It’s the kind of place where you get much more than you pay for.” That last sentence pushed me over the edge, and I found a ‘four days for the price of one’ deal, and booked it. Okay it didn’t push, I gladly jumped. Wouldn’t you? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPZw-sbU1SA
Practiced my Spanish on Duolingo, something I’ve promised myself to do five days a week until I leave. It’s day 2.