Second Stop Madrid

8 01 2009

The overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid was nice, though a little warm.  We went all out for this leg of the journey and had a private cabin for two.  We even had a nice sit-down breakfast on the train.  We got to Madrid around 8:45 in the morning and started calling hotels from the train station.  After the 7th or 8th call, I finally found a room, and we headed straight there.  It was the Hotel Macarena — near the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.  The hotel was in a great location on the second floor of a building — the only downside was that it was really hot and there was no a/c, no fan.  After checking in, we decided to walk straight to the Prado. 

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It was truly amazing.  We spent hours there.  I saw so many of Goya’s masterpieces and tried to shoot them but the low light made it difficult.  As you can see.  I prefer his Black Paintings of the early 1820s.

Saturno devorando a un hijo (1821-1823)

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Duelo a garrotazos (1821-1823)

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Perro Semihundido (1821-1823) is my favorite.

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I also really loved the ancient sculpture.  A few of my favorites…

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The highlight for me was the special Picasso exhibition.  We are in Spain at a time when I think the entire country is celebrating several Picasso anniversaries, most notably perhaps the 25th anniversary of his death.  Picasso spent a great deal of time as a youth at the Prado, and the exhibition placed his work in the context of the paintings he viewed and was inspired by — in many cases right alongside.  Most striking to me was standing between Velazquez’s Las Meninas…

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…(which was not in the exhibition, but the exhibition opened giving you a view straight ahead into a gallery and the painting was centered on a wall through a corridor – breathtaking) and Picasso’s take on it (we were not allowed to take photos inside the Picasso exhibit).  What an experience.  Rubens, Goya, Velazquez…Picasso’s works from the early 1900s on…the whole thing was really incredible.  Then we walked over to the Reina Sofia and saw Guernica — really capped the whole thing off for me. 

On our way back we stopped off at a cafe for a drink, then headed back to the hotel for a nap.  Later that night we had tapas near the Puerta del Sol (Cañas y Tapas, I think) — jamón ibérico, queso manchego, garlic mushrooms, other hams and cheeses whose names escape me, and potatoes with a “hot” sauce and a nice Spanish white wine.  Afterwards, we enjoyed cafés y churros con chocolate in the Plaza Mayor.

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The next day, we accidentally slept until 11:30!  Oops!!  So, we had to go straight to the train station.  The first two trains to Barcelona were already booked, and now we won’t arrive until there until 10pm.  Oh well…am very much looking forward to it.  Wish we could stay in Madrid longer, though.  This is an even smaller glimpse of an amazing city than we had in Lisbon!  More mental notes that this is somewhere I must return to for an extended period of time…

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