Still playing catch-up as these photos are from April! Madrid was a special trip in that it involved more than just tourist site-seeing and more friend visiting and just enjoying. This also means I don't have many pictures because most of the time was spent living more memorable moments of connection rather than photo-worthy opportunities. Right off the plane I met up with Jaime, a cousin of the Morales' and had a great chat over some coffee in an ironically Italian coffee shop. He is in seminary in Madrid and graciously indulged my several hours of questions and comments—what a trooper. Spring had just sprouted in Madrid so everything felt super green, surprisingly so for such a large city. We walked by the Royal Palace and Cathedral where he will be ordained, and then to his seminary. The view from a nearby hillside was gorgeous with soft sun, the cathedral in the background, and outdoor café tables in the foreground. It was a treat to learn from Jaime.

From there I met Cova, a friend of the Morales', now a friend of mine, who is studying industrial design in Madrid. She was an amazing and fun host, like most Spaniards. We went to dinner at Mercado de San Miguel, an old market turned hip array of restaurant booths. You simply choose what tapas and drinks you want from each and squeeze in for some counter space where you can. It was delicious and even better in the crispy modern-with-a-flare atmosphere. From there we went out with Rafa (whose nickname translates to Super Rat), another of their friends, in a pretty hipster little area with unique looking shops. We ended up in  little bar that only had a few people and instead of the usual fun and dancing, we all actually ended up deep in this life conversation. I love how Spaniards combine fun and serious so well.

The next day I went to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and was very impressed. Per usual, I never feel like I get to spend enough time with art in museum to really soak it all in, so you have to just settle for long glances where you try to engrave in your mind what it looks like. I popped in a casual lunch place and ordered a delicious plate of potatoes with blue cheese, scrambled eggs, and walnuts. I still crave it thinking about it. Something about the strongness of the blue cheese stuck with me. A nice siesta in the Parque de Buen Retiro was more refreshing than I can imagine. I think it was much needed time to just "sit and be" for a little bit. To appreciate the year, to enjoy the sun that I'd missed all winter, to kind of unwind some things coiled in my mind. Then it was off to the Reina Sofia Museum, by far my favorite in Madrid. It is the era of art of I love with lots of late 19th/early 20th Century works. After seeing Picasso's Guernica for years in books, it was fantastic to finally see it in person. I think it's good that I saw it towards the end of my time in Spain so I could fully appreciate more of its anti-war message after having heard stories throughout my time there about that era.

Part of the reason for this trip was to meet Amanda Buck in Madrid for our trip south! She flew over for a little over a week and we staying the first two nights in Madrid with her friend Ester who was also a fantastic host and really cool. She is a designer so we got to all dork out on some design talk. She made us a lovely dinner and Amanda made a pie that we savored on the terrace. One Sunday morning we went to the Rastro, a vast, old flea market of all sorts of curiosities. I went to the Prado later that day. Admittedly, it was quick run-through; it's not really the centuries of art that most intrigue me, though I obviously think it has important works. The Parque de Buen Retiro was calling my name again so I repeated a day of a little tranquility in the sun rays.

Amanda in El Rastro with her handmade scarf purchase: