The next day was our museum day. We started out on a walking tour with Inés — a dynamic Spanish tour guide. I started feeling more oriented as she led us through the squares and streets of Madrid's Old Town, sharing her extensive historical knowledge with us. I introduced myself to a friendly girl named Julia, began chatting with her, and then all the underage folk emerged from the woodwork and distanced ourselves from the middle-aged folk. Jackie and I are at that torn-between-worlds age where we don't want to be teenagers or adults, so we pillage, taking only the best of both worlds. The best of both worlds was there on this tour, and soon the non-adults were re-dispersed. I wound up talking to a lot of "grown-ups" who were interesting and kind, put me at ease, and truthfully, made me miss my parents a lot. I felt connected to the people on the tour, unsurprisingly so, because, after all, it was the Steves family that brought us together.
Inés told stories about thieves, about nuns, and about kings. She pointed out restaurants, cathedrals, and palaces. She did it with pizzazz and grace, poking fun at the group at our persistent tendency to plop down on steps, stairs, benches, or whatever surface was remotely accommodating of a human body.
I've never been a classical art fanatic. Most of it evokes zero emotion on my end because it isn't relatable. I'm not a noble, or a saint. I'm not even rich or religious. That being said, the art museum was my favorite part of the tour. I owe my newfound art appreciation to Inés, because she made the art personal. She mixed history and gossip, talking about the politics of the time and the torrid love affairs the painters enjoyed.
The museum was my favorite part of the tour, but lunch was my favorite part of the day. Jackie and I had the pleasure of sharing Portuguese food with Inés at a nearby restaurant. The food was beyond, but the conversation was beyond beyond. I don't meet a lot of people who knock my socks off right off the bat; Inés knocked off my entire outfit in a matter of hours. Her warmth, enthusiasm, intelligence, wit, energy, and generosity was awe-inspiring. I will always remember her, especially the off-work part where she dedicated her day to me and Jackie. After lunch, we raced to La Reina Sofía modern art museum to see Picasso's "Guernica" before the museum closed. I now understand what all the hullabaloo is about. Wow.
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