The last day has that mix of longing and farewell, a foot on either side of the threshold.
Here’s what I did the last full day in Madrid. I washed my comfy Athleta yoga pants in the sink, so they’d a have full day and overnight to dry. I’ll be wearing them tomorrow on the flight home. They look respectable and feel like jammies. Pretty much my ideal.
I popped in my ear buds and fired up my happy Madrid music mix – the one that can propel me uphill, no matter how tired I am, and flip my emotional switch to the gratitude setting. So instead of ‘woe is me, it’s the last day,’ I’m bopping down the streets thinking, ‘lucky me, I spent April in the Prado.’
I started at Crusts for a croissant with jam to go with my delicious latte.
My walking route took me past a tiny outpost of the famed Florence perfumerie, Santa Maria Novella. Bought a flask of Angels of Florence cologne for my daughter and assorted scented soaps. Clipped the bag handles to the mini-carabiner that’s hooked on the loop on the top of my Longchamps bag.
ZIpping into the no waiting side of the otherwise long Prado ticket lines never lost its appeal. Still a thrill. Inside, I followed the map I’d superimposed on the room by room guides they hand out at Information desk using colored markers and notes in the corners. Checked my marginalia and took my time revisiting particular paintings, saying goodbye and thank you. My mood was 51% more appreciative than elegiac, but still – Unless these works tour, I will not see them again. Apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson, but better to have discovered and loved a work of art and have to part from it, than never to have seen it at all.
Among the unexpected pleasures of the day was finding this man at work.
I wandered off into a side room, and drew Mars from the Velásquez painting on a postcard to send to my much missed my husband.
It’s in the same room with Ruben’s copy of Titian’s the Rape of Europa. Look to the left and you see a part of it in the background of The Spinners by Velasquez, one of his last works. That’s one of the wonderful things about seeing great works of art hung on the walls of major museums. Sometimes you witness a private conversation between artists, along with ebb and rise of the tide of visitors. Thank you, curators.
Eventually, I put away my pencil and headed to lunch at La Trainera. Old world gentleman maitre d’ pulled out my chair and handed me the menu with a flourish. I dined well, on what amounted to more hake in a tomato sauce, served in a clay dish with shrimps and mollusks scattered over the top. I also ordered asparagus picturing skinny green wands. I got this instead.
I loved the bespoke china plates with their ‘yo ho heave ho’ logo.
Afterwards, I headed back to the Prado. This time, my attention was caught by a small portrait of a man by Velásquez.
The wall card speculated that it is a self-portrait, done when he first arrived at court. I can see it. I stood and drew him, for an hour at least. I am no portraitist, but I gave it my all, and was not disappointed. Mostly I loved looking into his eyes.
I took my leave of the Prado, grateful that it exists. On the way home I visited the church on the hill behind the Prado.
It was peaceful and housed a multitude of Marys, like this holy lady of Spain.
Wended my way back to hotel Orfila to pack, pay the bill, and prepare for the day of travel home. Asked the nice desk clerk to take a photo of my lounging in the comfortable and charming lobby.
Yeah, I loved it.
I’ll end this trip with five things I observed in Madrid.
People sit on low walls outside the Prado and on the rims of fountains in the plazas. Under 40, they are all looking at their phones. Over 60 they are all smoking.
Walking five plus miles every day improves digestion and hurts feet.
No one speaks more than half a dozen English words. When you don’t speak Spanish, they nod or smile, and talk louder and faster. Google Translate is the answer for the linguistically inept.
Graffiti has thrown its net of tags on every surface of every building.
The heron curve of head bent, spine curved, elbow crooked is ubiquitous and universal. Everyone is texting.
Adios, beautiful Spanish city. You are justly proud.