Wednesday, October 14, 2015

El Prado and a walk in the park

On the way to El Prado
This morning, I rousted myself at a reasonably early hour, thinking I might grab breakfast and get to El Prado before the bulk of visitors arrived.

I found a little snack bar just up the street from where I'm staying where I made a connection with the proprietor when I ate there yesterday, so I returned there this morning. When I came in, he and two of his patrons were watching Spanish news. They were running a story about American politics, of all things. The Spanish reporters were speaking with the mayor of Miami, asking him what was behind the rise of Donald Trump!

My Spanish friend, who runs the snack bar up the street
People over here are amazed and befuddled by Donald Trump, just like many Americans. Well, I felt compelled to let the folks in the snack bar know my thoughts on the matter. "Donald Trump!" I sneered. "Yo soy un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos, y yo digo que él es una broma! Una broma!" I slapped the surface of the bar with the flat of my hand for emphasis. I couldn't tolerate the thought that these Spaniards might imagine that Donald Trump enjoys the support of most Americans. My friend smiled, but then grew sober. "Tal vez, pero el mundo se vuelve más peligroso," he said. "Cada día," I agreed. But now that I think about it, I'm not sure I believe it. We've always been on the edge of disaster. There's nothing new in it.

Anyway, he cooked me up a breakfast of eggs, toast, hard cheese, café con leche, and fresh-squeezed orange juice (they don't do concentrate over here). After my repast (which was most satisfying) I set off for the Metro, negotiated Madrid's subway system, and emerged in the general vicinity of El Prado.

Compassion from the Spaniards (but why is the sign in English?)
I can't tell you how excited I was to go to El Prado, to see the works of Hieronymous Bosch, El Greco, Rubens and Diego Valásquez. And, boy, was I rewarded. I was surprised to learn from a scolding, matronly exhibition staffer that photos were not allowed, but I managed to sneak a few anyway. (Don't worry. I felt appropriately guilty about it.) Here's some of what I saw.

The Third of May, Goya
Apollo gives Vulcan the bad news about his wife
Christ crucified, Diego Valásquez
The Holy Trinity, El Greco.
This one really grabbed my attention. Not sure why... heh.
My personal favorites were the works of Rubens and Hieronymous Bosch. Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights was constantly surrounded by a throng of viewers and I never had the opportunity to snap a covert photo, but I include here an image downloaded from the web.

The Garden of Earthly Delights
And here's another downloaded Bosch work.

The 7 Deadly Sins and the Last Four Things
Bosch's works are full of symbolism. You can spend hours poring over them. I spent a good 20 minutes going over this one and, were it not for the insufferable crowd that mobbed the Garden of Earthly Delights, I could have spent an hour on it.

I contend that even the most cynical atheist, when viewing some of these masterpieces --El Greco, depicting the Holy Trinity, van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross, Noli Me Tangere by Correggio --must hesitate in his convictions. The inspiration required to create such works seems (to me, at least) to be almost beyond human.

After about 2 hours of viewing, however, the senses are saturated. I departed El Prado in the early afternoon and walked back to my rented suite on La Calle de Beníto Guitierrez.

Cosmopotlitan Madrid
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
In the late afternoon, I took a walk through Parque Del Oeste, just down the street. It is perfect fall weather and folks were out enjoying the park's many paths, fountains, and gardens.

A decrepit bunker. Remnant of la Guerra Civil?
Beautiful day in Parque Del Oeste
Sun sets behind an Egyptian temple.
There is an Egyptian temple in Parque del Oeste that was a gift to Spain from the Egyptian people. It was odd to be wandering through a park in the heart of Spain to come upon a temple that looked better suited for some solemn plain along the Nile. But that's what happens when you travel: you stumble on all kinds of perplexing wonders.

What a trip! I'm having a wonderful time. But I miss Maty.

This is the life... except I miss her.
 Ah, well. Like Bob Dylan says:

"I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain
You give something up for everything you gain
Since every pleasure's got an edge in pain
Pay for your ticket and don't complain;"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Boy, this really brings it back. When we first came to Madrid, we lived in that big building behind Sancho Panza's head, the Torre de Madrid. My mom has a picture of me in my stroller in front of Don Quixote.