Got into Madrid after a long train ride from Bilbao yesterday. Left Bilbao around 9:30am and got in around 2:40pm. Amazing, though, train travel doesn’t leave you feeling wiped out like air travel. I checked into the Hostal Persal, which was a bit of a rude awakening after the fancy Carlton in Bilbao. Basic room, two twins, nothing on the walls, but aggressively clean. Well located and two nights are cheaper than one at the other place. Went to my favorite Mercado de San Miguel for lunch. It has a huge market of tapas and you just walk around and buy little nibbles. Lots of fun. Madrid also has Celiacoso, a Gluten free bakery that is a pleasant place to hang out. Did a round of tapas crawling with Nancy Reynolds from The Camino Experience and then called it a night. Today, I got to the Prado, managed to dodge the line by using my ipad to buy a ticket online while waiting. As I got in the museum, a lady approached me an offered me a guided tour. I decided to do it and was glad I did. In an hour she took me to the most important paintings and explained the history and what to look for. Really worth it. Goya, Velasquez, Tintoretto, Rubens, Greco, Bosch. Wow, what a place. Checked in for my flight, or at least partially since I got a KLM boarding pass but not a Delta one. Oh well, sort that out tomorrrow. Airport bus from Plaza Cibeles to the airport is 5E. Always a mixture of emotions returning from these kind of trips. I’m acutely aware that Europe gets lots of things right, that we don’t even perceive that we are missing. Also notice things they clearly don’t get right, for instance full fluorescent restroom style lighting in fancy restaurants. Wine and food prices seem quite reasonable to outright inexpensive compared to the USA. Lots more people smoke cigarettes here, and any outdoor terrace or restaurant is considered fair game. Spain, at least, seems to have plenty of public restrooms, and you don’t see a lot of homeless people as compared to Seattle, SF or Honolulu.