Wednesday, March 4, 2009



Monday, March 02, 2009   Madrid 

Weather is holding in the 50’s and although skies are overcast the streets are dry.  We had a wonderful nights sleep; minus the half hour lost about 6 am with the taxi cab honking it’s horn below our window.  Stayed up until nearly 11 pm and then slept until 9 am this morning!  Breakfast of one coffee, one orange juice and a grande croissant in the common room is served between 8 and 10. 

Dressed warmly with rain gear in the backpack, we headed towards our first destination today:  Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid’s modern art museum that is located across the street from the train station.  Originally the first hospital in Madrid it is a large square building with a beautiful courtyard in the center.  The addition of two large glass elevators on the front adds to the theme of the museum.  Inside we showed our passports to prove that we were over 65 years of age and got into the museum FREE.  

Neither one of us truly appreciates modern art so we headed to the main exhibit:  Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”.  A very large black and white painting that gives Picasso’s distorted view of the ravages of war.  The title of the piece comes from the bombing of a town in northern Spain in the 1930’s to test the new German Air Force planes.  Much of the second floor is devoted to this painting.  Before leaving we also found some of Salvador Dali’s work to view.

We then walked across to Madrid’s train station and were startled when we entered and found a conservatory full of palm trees that reached the glass ceilings and a variety of other green plants.  It was a very green and warm waiting area for travelers; they had misting machines operating all the time.  We took advantage and stopped to eat our bananas and some nuts.  The nuts are the last of the ones we brought from home with us. 

Out into the main train area we located the Metro System and boarded the Metro for our trip to the Ventas Metro Stop located in the eastern part of Madrid.  Only one connection at Sol and we were there in a very short time.  We came up from the Metro right in front of Madrid’s Plaza de Toros.  Saw a group of kids taking group photo and offered to take one for them…of course, they reciprocated for us!  We took lots of photos and walked all the way to the back before heading across the street to the little restaurant called Restaurant Cesar (Bocadilleria Jamoneria); inside there are at least a dozen heads of famous bulls mounted on the walls.  Jim and I ate dinner here on our visit.  We looked around, decided we really were not hungry or thirsting and walked back out to the Metro and home.  Stopped at our favorite grocery store and picked up some fruit and salad things to go with our dinner tonight…we’re cooking at the hostel.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009   trip to Lorenzo de El Escorial

Woke to light rain so after breakfast we donned our rain ponchos, put plastic bags over our socks and headed for the Metro where we purchased tickets from the machine for the first time!  Not as difficult as we thought once we found the button for English! Only one transfer but a long time on the Metro took us to the Moncloa Bus Station located on the western edge of the city near the University.  From there we caught a bus north and arrived about an hour later in Lorenzo de El Escorial; home to the Royal Monasterio famous for housing the Spanish Inquisition under Philip II in the sixteenth century.

This is a very gray and plain looking complex based on a grill shape in honor of St. Lawrence (whom the town is named after) because he was martyred on a grill…thus…patron saint of cooking.  It is the final resting place of four centuries of Spanish Kings and Queens, except Isabel and Ferdinand who are still in Granada.

We walked from the bus station to the Monastery in the rain but an hour later when we’d finished our tour the rain had stopped.

We elected to forego waiting for two hours to go out to see the Valley of the Fallen as we were chilled to the bone and ready to go back to Madrid.  Arrived back in the Hostel about 4 pm; shared an apple before turning on the computers.  The sandals and socks are an interesting experiment…Mary has bunions and trouble with enclosed shoes.  So I elected to ditch my shoes after London and join her in sandals.  We are the ONLY ones on the street in sandals.  But not a problem except with rain…we carry lots of extra dry socks with us! 

Wednesday, March 04, 2009  

We made this a Museum day and actually visited two different ones without getting wet.  It rained off and on during the day but we were inside during the storms.  Our first visit was to the Thyssen Museum:  Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.  A wealthy German married a “Miss Spain” and this museum in located in their former home that is located very close to The Prado Museum.  There were three floors of large paintings by lesser known artists and small paintings by greater known artists.  I must admit I’ve amazed myself with how much knowledge about art that I have gleaned from following Jim in his quest to see every major work of art in every museum in the world!  I really do recognize the names but not the titles of the various pieces.  

In this museum we found paintings from the very religious to modern art.  Ruben, Dyck, Cezanne, Degas, Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Tiepolo, Caravaggio, El Greco, Refael and many more; along with two by Georgia O’Keefe, a Jackson Pollock and other well known American Artists.  And the list continued with Gauguin, Toulouse, Degas, etc. etc. etc.  There were many paintings by Anonimo Aleman who I didn’t recognize but the collection contains many of his paintings. 

And for Mr. Jim:  two paintings by Emanuel de Witte, a possible ancestor several generations ago; one was a church enterior.

We took two and half hours to tour the Thyssen.  Then we were off on another quest after we ate our bananas.  Rode the Metro to the northern part of the city with only one transfer; we’d walked from our Hostel to the Thyssen.  It took a bit of work but we finally found the Museum Lazaro Galdiano; a private collection exhibited in the collector’s home in an upscale neighborhood.  We discovered the American Embassy on our walk from the Metro to the Museum.  Wanted to take a photo but Mary wouldn’t let me!  I did take some photos of a protest march along one of the streets.

This is a wonderful Museum to visit; Jim found it for us on the Internet while searching for the birthplace of Goya (that is halfway to Barcelona we discovered).  Goya was a favorite of Mr. Galdiano but he only has seven of his paintings in the collection.  The basic structure has been preserved when it was converted to a museum.  Each room had a description of the use of the room when it was a home.  This was very important as each ceiling has a painting that depicts the use of the room.  Ie:  Music room has composers in the painting; the literary room has poets and writers.  There are many pieces of beautiful furniture in every room and the paintings were 15th & 16th Century; mostly religious. 

There was a beautiful collection of miniatures paintings; per the sign one of the best in Europe.  And, a collection of pocket watches that my friend Shari would died for…ie the photo I took that I wasn’t suppose to take… 

An hour later we were back to the Metro with three changes before reaching our area.  A short stop at the grocery store for dinner supplies and we were safely back by 4 pm.  Tomorrow will be a rest and laundry day.  If it doesn’t rain we may visit the park.  Friday we have an all day bus ride to Barcelona.  Adois until we meet again in Barcelona....


No comments: