I sit here in our arty Air B&B apartment on Day 2 of the Artistry of Spain & Venice soujourne with the sun just setting (at 9.40pm) and having just had a hot shower (and a couple of vinos) to relieve the muscle spasms from walking Madrid all day with only ONE camera but a bag full of lenses JUST in case!!!


But let me not digress and go back to what seems like weeks ago .... after a sleepless night, finally finishing my list of "things to do" at 2.30am, just in time for the 3 am taxi. we arrived at Perth airport and proceeded to Gate 5 for our Emirates 6 am flight to be confronted by the low life of Australia ... I looked around in dismay at the assortment of tats and the overweight wearing tight fitting outfits including a 60 something yr old in a leopard skin bra and tie dyed top skulling her Bourban and Coke and a queue for the bar at 4 am !!! Then as we sipped our latte and buttered our raison toast and pondered how the low life could manage such a European adventure when we had saved for months we realised that we were actually supposed to be at Gate 2 .... Gate 5 was the Air Asia flight to Bali!! We swiftly hightailed it down to where the demographic was much more western suburb as we hung out near if not in the Qantas and Emirates lounges.

After nearly 24 hours of travel we arrived in Madrid too tired to realise the Romanian taxi driver with the "set price" ride, a printed out Google map and a GPS in situ to our accommodation, was "lost". Kings gave him a $15 tip for his troubles!! We were met by Marta and Adolfo whose apartment is gorgeous – full of tasteful arty pieces and in the middle of the tapas highlife of Madrid. Perth nightlife certainly has a lot to learn when here everyone from 8 months to 88 yrs was partying in the square below until midnight. It was no wonder we had trouble finding a coffee and croissant this morning until 10am. Having remembered that this is the way in Spain we have duly stocked up on fruit, muesli and yes long life milk (I cant believe there is no fresh milk in sight – I saw plenty of green fields that cows would love, flying over the countryside yesterday ... I can only imagine that there are not enough cows to go round after all the bulls presumably die from their fighting wounds!)

Today was spent walking the streets, getting lost, finding unexpected antique pop-up shops with amazing quirky objects (no.. Morocco girl friends, I havent stocked up yet but have decided that I dont need more clothes and will focus on the objects-de-art and jewellery even thought I do have 11 kg of luggage space I could possibly fill ....) visiting the Palace – sorry no photos allowed there although it was impressive and OTT. I cant believe what a boring job those palace room attendants must have – all I heard them say was "No photos" (admittedly it was directed to me on more than one occasion) and "No sitting" to the Asian tourists who were regularly seen perched on 600 year old rolled rugs.

Lunch of yummy Sangria, Goats cheese & caramelised onion on bread, duck and salad and Coffee and Baklava was had at the Mercado – a little $$ and catering more for the tourists me thinks.

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza which is described as being one of the worlds foremost and distinguished private art collections is indeed impressive! We literally spent 4 hours there with me glued to my audio guide and Kings (like Columbus) having circumnavigated the museum twice to my once. We started on recommendation from the museum handout with the Old Masters – Italian Primitives, Renaissance and Baroque art. I am afraid there is only so much religious artwork a girl can take, so it was a relatively quick tour through level 2 before getting settled into the Picasso's, Monets, Gauguins, Kandinsky's and Dali's. In art photographic heaven here and will be updating my iphone wallpaper ASAP.

Tomorrow brings more art at the Prado and the Sofia and maybe even a tour with the nuns at the Monasterio Descalzas Reales (in case I need saving!!)

Stay tuned for more blogs – I am hoping the laptop holds out since my second ipad has decided to have a hissy fit and only show a blinking Apple logo – any technical help welcome or it may be a trip to the Madrid Apple shop included in tomorrow's agenda.

xx Serena