Madrid’s Harlem is far less seedy during the day. Nevertheless, I wasn’t staying. I packed my stuff up, well it was never unpacked, I just picked it up and left. I found a nice place in Puerta Del Sol where a protest was going on and dropped my bags off.
My first real stop of the day was at the Reina Sofia, one of Madrid’s most famous art museums. Admission was free when I got there and I spent about 4 hours walking around the museum listening to my iPod. It was an incredible experience, seeing some of the world’s greatest art set to my own soundtrack. One of the modern art exhibits in particular caught my attention. Yayoi Kusama had an exhibit there with loads of tentacles, golden jackets covered in macaroni, and mirrored rooms with hanging lights stretching into an infinite space beyond comprehension. Kusama started her artistic career in the 50s and 60s pushing the envelope of what was considered art. Many of her works, or performances, featured nude people and body paint. Still more featured tight repetition of patterns and objects evoking ideas of obsession and fractallian order. Later in Kusama’s career her mental and physical health began to decline and she voluntarily checked into a mental hospital where she continues to live and create art in her studio within the hospital. I left the Reina Sofia carrying with me a sense of peace and relaxation. When I return to the States I want to take time to appreciate art more and slow down the bustle of my day to day routine.
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Some friends of mine from the States are simultaneously backpacking Europe and our itineraries collided in Madrid so I walked over to their hostel and met up for the night. The three girls were approaching the end of their one month trip and were eager to tell of their adventures. They’d done everything from partying with Scandinavian hippies at a rave to sneaking out of a Czech hospital without paying their bill.
After catching up, the four of us walked to a nearby hostel, Cat’s Hostel, and met up with Susie, a girl I had met in Ibiza, for her hostel’s pubcrawl. I was moving into Cat’s Hostel the next night, and it was the most interesting hostel I’ve stayed in so far. The building was built in the 18th century and its a national historic landmark. The hostel’s lobby is a two story open courtyard of Moorish architecture surrounding a fountain in the center. Topping the lobby is an elaborate stained glass window of cool blues and warm reds. Beneath the lobby was a bar serving up liters of beer and sangria for really cheap prices. After 2 liters apiece of beer and sangria, we were ready to leave the hostel and go on the pub-crawl. The crawl was good. We went to 2 bars and got free shots at each. At the end of the night the crawl finished at a nightclub where we got free admission and danced for a bit. I bailed early, as people know I usually do, and headed back to my hostel.