Saturday, March 19, 2011


Bruth warned me that jet-lag might hit on the second day, and it did. Perkiness vanished, temporarily. Luckily, it was not a heavy sightseeing day - we took an hour long bus ride through the scrubby countryside to El Escorial, a vast palace and monastery built by one of the many Philips. But it was disappointing: not very splendid, very cold and plain - because it's a monastery as well as a palace - and didn't even have that many works of art - way too many crucifixions and Marys and etc. There was a beautiful Velasquez so Bruth was happy, and I was happy when we walked in the palace gardens afterwards, in the sun.

After only 2 days in Spain, I am already sick of religious art, especially of martyrs being butchered in every conceivable way with tons of blood and agony everywhere. Religious porno. Horrible.

But back at the Prado, tonight, there's lots of stunning other stuff, including sublime canvases by Velasquez, Goya and El Greco, three of the greatest artists of all time. So moving, the humanity in the faces - Velasquez, painting an "adoration of the Magi" in which Mary has the face of his wife, the baby is his daughter - the loveliest baby Jesus ever - and he himself is one of the adoring magi. Later, his paintings of dwarves and clowns - profound, full of empathy - Bruth says they make him cry. We arrived together but then separated, he pursuing his own muse around the place, though we bumped into each other in front of a Velasquez. Ten minutes before closing time, I dashed into a nearby room, to discover a cornucopia of Italian geniuses: Titians, Tintorettos, Veronese. Too much. Overwhelming.

Luckily, there's tapas to revive us. We found a very loud, cheery place and ordered the bits and pieces of tapas - fun and delicious. Every face nearby reminded me of someone in a painting I had just seen. That boy - just like the pale, chubby John the Baptist by Goya. BK and I talked and talked and then walked and walked. Saturday night in Madrid - every Madrilieno is out, strolling, jabbering at top volume, music blasting everywhere - and those who aren't walking are eating outside in one of the countless pedestrian-only squares that make this city so friendly and open.

We went to a supermarket this afternoon and bought groceries; in a strange place, that is always exciting. Why is ham the biggest food in Spain? Why are my eyelids closing at 10.30 p.m.?

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