Saturday, Sunday April 18 & 19
Part of the day before I travel is spent preparing to leave so the day of departure isn’t fraught. I did laundry and packed my suitcase except for two changes of clothes I’d need. The trickiest bit turned out to be trying to print a boarding pass. Apparently, Iberia likes Windows but they don’t like Macs. There were worried messages exchanged on WhatsApp with my landlady, and emails and calls to Iberia, until finally I stood in a photocopy shop emailing my boarding pass to them to print on an ancient copier and even that was a tightrope walk. Go figure.
Having survived that, I figured it would a good day to see the churches. I walked to San Francisco El Grande Basilica, Plaza de San Francisco, thinking I’d skip the tour and just look reverently at frescoed dome and chapel by Goya. I listened to the incomparable Joanna Bourne’s The Spymasters Lady http://www.joannabourne.com/ while I walked. Ideal for the adventure of confidently slipping through the streets of a foreign city.
Alas, the Basilica is only open for tours 10:30-12:30, 4-6. No entry for freelance viewing or praying allowed. It was 2pm, so I changed my plans.
I walked over to Santa María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral. They started construction in1883, and it was completed and consecrated in 1993, so there’s are hope for Buckhead yet!
I had hesitated to go, since it is billed as modern and I imagined an unholy cross between a high school cafeteria and an airport lounge. I was wrong. It had far more grace than I predicted and the ‘modern’ decoration, especially the brilliant colors, were pleasing.
I’ve been looking at paintings of Venus and Cupid, aka Eros, for weeks. Does innocent cherub at the feet of the Virgin have a mischievous glint in his eye?Before I set out that morning, I learned someone I knew had died. We had exchanged posts online for years. I lit a candle for her in the cathedral and had more than one melancholy thought.
I miss the oddest things. Making lists. My gym routine. Talking to my friends over coffee in the morning.
That night I set my alarm for the first time. Didn’t need because I barely slept. The street noise hit new levels. It was like trying to sleep in the middle of a frat house during pledge week, or in during carnival in Rio, with a few three alarms fires and a riot thrown in. Exhausted and cranky, I left the apartment at 8am, trundled down the street to the taxi rank on the corner, bags in tow, and left for the airport.