Monday, July 13, 2009


Madrid was a revelation for me. In terms of urban energy, it's up there with New York and Hong Kong. Its museums (especially the Prado, Thyssen, and Reina Sofía) offer as rich an experience as the Louvre in Paris and the MoMa in New York. And for less than 20 euros per person, you can find much better food than in Paris or New York, though perhaps not than in Hong Kong. That said, Madrid is full of recent immigrants from China, and they've brought genuine Chinese food the likes of with I had never eaten elsewhere in continental Europe. And then there's the Spanish language, which for me was like slipping into a warm bath. I was also very glad to hear Laura speak Spanish with me and with other people (here in Switzerland she speaks English with me and French with Véronique). Here's some of what Laura and I saw this past week in Madrid (click on the Garden of Earthly Delights triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, whom Spaniards call El Bosco):

Although I know little about the history of European art, and Laura nothing, the two of us have spent hundreds hours over the past three years reading Greek myths and the Bible. Laura's knowledge of Greek mythology and the best-known Old and New Testament stories helped her interpret and enjoy many of the paintings we saw.

But Laura is nine years old and what she enjoyed most was eating Spanish food, playing with other kids in the hotel pool, and rowing with me in the Parque del Retiro.

We'll be going back to Madrid.