April 13, Monday
Asleep by 11, wake up at 7:30 = happiness.
Putting clothes out is as good a strategy in Madrid as home. Museums are more like a marathon than a sprint, and every little bit of preparation helps.
Heading to the Museo Lazaro Galdiano, a good hour on foot, and decided to take the Madrid subway. I was a little nervous about it. I’d decided the night before to just walk to Bon Bon, have my coffee and croissant and then get a taxi. Instead, I embraced the strange, walked to the Opera station, and bought a ticket from the machine. Tapped it ineffectually on the turnstile until someone kindly pointed to where I should insert the ticket. Once inside, it was a lot like the Paris metro – easy to figure out.
Everyone was on their iPhones. It has become ubiquitous across countries, class and economic lines.
I wonder what the unintended consequences might be. Could the sheer commonality of this device that crosses boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity, and creed bring us together?
An old friend of mine was recently bemoaning the fact he never used his camera anymore, only his phone ,and it wasn’t the same. True, digital isn’t film, but it’s so much better in so many ways. I don’t want to go back to drawing water out of a well, myself.
Popped out of the subway and got lost as soon as I put my iPhone map away, convinced I knew where I was. I walked an extra six blocks before I checked. Ah, humility, the Queen of the Virtues.
The Museo Lazaro Galdiano is prime, full of splendid things. It’s all right there, inches away – one can truly see the detail. All the best quality, unlike the wheat among the chaff of Belle Arte. On the other hand, no sofas.
But it’s definitely a museum and not a preserved former home like the Cerralbo, so intelligently grouped and beautifully presented.
After viewing hundreds of frail/compliant/fainting/awkward virgins like this –
I adored this sculpture of a woman washing. To quote Iggy Azalea, “this shit get real.” At last an actual woman, not a tortured saint, repentant sinner or an immaculate virgin.
The museum had a lovely elevator with an ironwork half gate, and wood and glass doors that slid apart, like opening a little jewel box. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
The top floor had a room of weaponry more gorgeous than intimidating. Probably because it was behind glass. A wonderful feature of this museum are the multiple drawers beneath the displays. Loved the dagger and sword and epees. Some so beautiful, some malevolent, some obviously so heavy. The skill and strength to use them was astounding to me.
Don’t miss the drawers.
and ceilings. The first floor had elaborately frescoed ceilings in the classic style, but mixing gods with themes of family, art and literature, commissioned by the owner. I was charmed.
After I reluctantly left, some four hours later, I dropped in a bank to get 50 Euro bills from the ATM changed by a bank teller. She laughed when I asked if she would do that. In Paris they sniffed at me and refused, so points to Madrid.
Walked to the Prado past the Retiro Park, and this time I went to the section along the entrance, found a bench near other people, and peacefully ate my bread, cheese, ham, and grapes and listened to Vixen in Velvet on my iPod. I wondered why don’t I do this more often at home – go outside, is what I mean. Sit in a park and look at the trees. I made a mental note to walk over to Chastain Park more often.
Into the Prado and straight to worship at the altar of Las Meninas. Like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, it was besieged, surrounded twenty people deep with Asian tourists and high school groups. All the tour guides use mics now and the tourists wear ear pieces. I dove in, moving towards the front as space opened up.
The little girl was the perfect floss-haired princess, the adored daughter, clearly as beloved and spoiled as it was possible to be.
My eye moved to the king and queen in the mirror, and for an instant it was me on the dais being painted by Velásquez, that was my golden child watching me stand patiently while Velásquez worked. I was just there, just for a moment. All in my head but it was wonderful all the same.
Sargent hired musicians to amuse his titled patrons during the tedium of posing. I wonder if Velásquez encouraged the Infanta to visit, to bring an expression to the King’s face Velásquez wished to capture, or just to amuse and distract the royal couple.
Afterwards I wandered randomly around. I spent a happy quarter of an hour drawing the head of the bull in The Rape of Europa. A magnificent beast.
On my way back to the apartmentnI found a postbox – hint: they are bright yellow – on the street near the ham museum (yes, there is a Museo de Jambon – they take their pork seriously) so my postcards were finally mailed.