Thursday, April 9
Raining, drizzling, and cold. I layer up in a long sleeve tee, black Zella hoodie, Marmot raincoat, jeans, heavy socks, and mittens. I’m good to go. My family has convinced me of the Norwegian adage Der findes intet der hedder dårligt vejr, kun dårligt påklædning. ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear.’ Thinking of flagging a taxi, but the rain is just mizzling, so I trotted down my favorite street to le Bon Bon. This time, I sat down in the tiny, toasty interior for my café and croissant.
From there it was off to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/home I hoped the nasty weather would discourage crowds, but there were throngs of grammar school children. Luckily, they were short and I could easily see over their heads
I galloped upstairs to view the works of my people, the Flemish and Dutch. Lovely lovely stuff, especially the portraits. To look at the famous portrait of King Henry VIII (by Hans Holbein in 1536) is to wonder how he managed to invest features marred by greed with firmness and resolve. And it’s very small, another surprise of scale.
It was a shock, but a pleasant one, to see several rooms of American artists. Here they take on a shine they don’t get at home. To see my compatriots honored in this way gave me a little shiver of pride. I spotted a lovely Innes,
A genre scene of maple sugaring reminded me of my sister Sarah, who was boiling down sap up in Wisconsin last month. William Bradford’s Fishermen off the Coast of Labrador drew visitors like a blue magnet.
Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington was echoed, and to my mind eclipsed, by the dignity and warmth of his portrait of Washington’s cook. I was going to forage for my lunch back out in the streets, but took a chance on the museum café. Score! Cheeseburger with bacon, medium rare, and thick cut French fries. Yum. As much as I enjoy gorging myself on pastry and ham, I have actually missed nutrition. Followed it up with an espresso, or I would have taken a siesta right there.
Restored, I went back to view another floor and a half. As it turned out, I moved much more briskly through the halls of impressionists and 20th century.
Left around 4pm and took a taxi to the opticians. Tried on dozens before I settled on a pair of hybrid black and tortoise shell frames, designed in Paris. But of course! The frames I bought in Paris last year were designed in Barcelona.
These frames weren’t cheap but they so delight me that they were well worth the cost. However, the price they quoted for the lenses was shocking – and that was before they said it was for each lens. Now, that’s just appalling. No one buys a single lens. It borders on deceptive practice. I still bought the frames, but I’ll get the prescription filled back home. I may be a tourist and I am certainly vain but I am not an idiot.
Strolled back to the apartment, picking up a brace of apples here, a fresh pan pequeño there. Hoping to have another whole night of sleep. What a difference it makes! Tomorrow, depending upon the weather and my mood, it’s either the Prado or the Palace.