There are some cons, ever so slight and comical, however. There's no helpful front desk person to tell you that the time changed in the country you are travelling in so you are late for the long bus ride from Barcelona to Madrid. You then must contact the owner of the next apartment to let him know you will be late because he will be waiting to let you in. Luckily he will be most likely very accommodating, as are most people in life.
When you arrive in Madrid (at 9pm rather than 3pm), you realize that AirBnB left off one important letter on the address of the apartment you are staying in. It can't be just #4. There are ten #4's. Each 4 is followed by a letter A through J. It's at this point that you rue the day you decided to travel without a cell phone. You pause in your consternation to help an elderly woman with her key to enter the building in question. She motions you inside and you explain the problem to her. She understands and helpfully speaks Spanish to you of which you understand - nada. She shrugs and continues inside and you decide to press the button of every single #4 until the apartment owner answers. But wait! A woman struggles out with her garbage, speaks English and tells you to go inside, up some stairs and look at the mailboxes to find the owners name. What joy! What a great idea! You rush upstairs, read the names and...his name is not there.
The Holiday Inn Express is looking mighty fine right now.
The children have many helpful (not really) ideas but mostly they are very tired. You walk up five flights of stairs (in Europe the fourth floor is the fifth floor) and prepare to knock on every door until the mystery man answers. But you remember that one of the mailboxes had no name at all, pray to God that you are correct and quickly walk down the hall to knock before you lose your nerve. There is a pause after your knock, the door opens and a friendly face says, "Michelle?"
And Holiday Inn is forgotten. We are finally home. Until the next apartment anyway!
During the day, we've been walking around visiting Retiro Park, The Prado Art Museum and Reina Sofia Art Museum. All are within a thirty minute walk away which is great. I didn't realize that when I booked this place. We weren't allowed to take any photos in the Prado Museum and it wasn't like in the Musee d'Orsay where they said 'No Photos' but people took photos anyway. They meant 'No photos'. So we have nothing really to show for our visit. Except I did upload this one painting from the internet because it is so weird and strange and disturbing. It's Dutch and it was painted between 1490 and 1510 which is unbelievable. It seems so modern. The right hand panel is supposed to be hell, by the way. I don't know where he got the idea of the giant ears with the knife. It's like a huge, creepy eye-spy picture.
The next day we headed up to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It's a Modern Art museum where the kids were eager to see some real Picasso's and they could see Dali as well. We tried to focus on Spanish artists - Goya and Velasquez at the Prado and modern artists here.
The Reina Sofia combined film with wall art and sculpture which the kids really liked. In one gallery, you could stand and look one way and see black and white footage of the Spanish Civil War and turn your head in the other direction and see Picasso's huge, black and white Guernica, about the Spanish Civil War. It was very effective.
Plus, our little B isn't feeling too well at the moment. There was a little child with a rumbling cough on the bus and I knew the minute I heard that cough, Bereket would get it. Sure enough, he's got it. Unfortunately, all his asthma inhalers were in his backpack that was stolen in Prague but Ventolin is over-the-counter in Spain, thankfully!
We have another bus ride on Saturday to sunny Granada where we will stay for one, whole month! We will take out our clothes from their little packing cubes and put them in those wooden things called drawers. We'll arrange our half dozen 100ml size toiletries on a bathroom counter. And then we will kick our backpacks under the bed and not look at them for 28 days! Heaven.
Until then, as the taxi driver said in Madrid, 'Vaya con dios, amigos'.