So sorry for the large delay between the previous recap of the first 3 days of Madrid and this last one. When people told me my last few days here would fly by, I didn’t believe them, but they really have. Tomorrow is my last day of class…so crazy! I’m not looking forward to the goodbyes. This will be my last post in Spain, since I leave in two days, so after I get home I’ll start some reflection posts or what not. Not sure when, but it’ll happen. I’m actually still trying to figure out how to process this whole thing.
Without further ado…(wait a second, where did we get this phrase? I had to look up how to spell it…being in Spain makes me think of all the colloquialisms and things we say that make perfect sense to us, but then it’s like, where did this come from and why do we use it?? Anyway…)
Since I had gone to bed early the night before, I woke up around 7:30am to shower and actually overestimated the amount of time I needed to get ready, so I checked out earlier than planned and went on my way. (Me? Early? That NEVER happens…especially not in Spain). The first item on my list (besides breakfast–a bacon egg and cheese McMuffin and orange juice, for really cheap! I’m American, I know! Sorry!) was the Palacio Real which I hadn’t been able to get into the day before. However, it didn’t open until 10am, so I had some time to waste. I decided to try to go see the Monumento a Cristóbal Colón (Monument to Christopher Columbus–that’s his name in Spanish). After checking out and taking a stroll down Gran Vía (I would say this is comparable to Michigan Avenue in Chicago) it struck me as weird that there was almost no one on the street. I mean, I know it was 8:30am on a Sunday and los españoles have a fancy for partying all night at a discoteca, but…..? There were some police starting to redirect traffic too, which I found out why when I walked out of the metro stop and faced the monument…there was a stream of people running…I’m not sure if it was a marathon or just some race, but that explained things. I couldn’t actually get close to the monument since they were running in front of it and I obviously couldn’t cross through them, so I took some pictures from afar and made my way back to the metro to get to the palace.
I got off at the Ópera stop (named, I’m assuming, since it’s right in front of the Teatro Real–Royal Theatre…Madrid sure likes naming stuff with Real….Real Madrid…Palacio Real…Real Jardin Botanico…etc. I guess it’s just a REALLY real city? (Real=royal, or real, depending on context). I timed it so I got to the palace really shortly after they opened, and with my Madrid Card I got priority access, so I didn’t have to wait in line…which didn’t really give me advantage then, since nobody was really there yet, but saw the advantage when I exited and saw the already long line.
I didn’t feel like spending the money with an audio guide or a personally guided tour, thus prolonging the trip through. Although I did (discretely or discretely, not really sure) tag along with some tour groups that were spoken in English…it’s not that I don’t care about the history, but this was my first on the list of other things, and I mostly wanted to just look around and take pictures. It was really interesting though to learn some history about it, see all the different rooms, where Spanish royalty has resided (and officially still does, although I think they only use it for special occasions). Unfortunately pictures weren’t allowed inside at ALL, so that sucked. I couldn’t find a small photo book to buy either. So I walked through it all and then left.
Next, since I was already there, I went to the Catedral de la Almudena which is right next to it. It was cool to see. It is huge, and there were a lot of people in there roaming around and taking pictures (like myself) but when it got close to the mass time, they made all of the visitors leave. I really liked their stained glass though.
After that, I started to make my way to the Teleferico (cable car), and detoured a little bit, realizing I was hungry, so I went to the nearest McDonald’s (hey! This was because I could get a discount with my Madrid Card, even though the people there said it wasn’t valid even though it was) and when I got out at the metro stop, stumbled upon the Faro de Moncloa (Lighthouse of Moncloa) which isn’t actually a lighthouse, but a transmission tower that has an observation deck. It was built in 1992, but has been closed to the public since 2005, so unfortunately I couldn’t go up in it, which if I could, would see a nice view of Madrid. I could also see the Arco de la Victoria (Victory Arch, or more colloquially known as the Moncloa Gate) which looked a lot like La Puerta de Alcalá. I snapped some pictures–this part of my trip was more spontaneous than anything–then went and had lunch and made my way to the Teleférico de Madrid.
The Teleférico de Madrid, I’ve read, is like one of the most vertical cable cars in the world. This did not stop me from getting irrationally scared when I got in the cable car by myself. I’m not really sure why because I don’t usually have problems with heights. Nevertheless, it’s about a ten minute ride that goes about 2.5km (1.5 miles). I kinda got lost trying to find the place, so when I got there I was kinda exhausted, and had to wait in line a while (even though my guide got me “priority access”, but basically all that did was let me budge the majority, but not all, of the line. It was a nice ride apart from the whole being scared I was gonna die for no reason. When I got there, I looked around in the shop and saw a tiny little stuffed panda (smaller than my “Little Panda” I had with me) and I just had to get it. So Little Panda now has a companion. I went to where you could see the view, took like 5 pictures, and then left. Maybe it’d be more fun if I weren’t alone, not really sure.
I was planning to go to the stadium of Real Madrid, Santiago Bernabéu, but the cable car took so long that I had to cut it out in order to see what was higher on the list. I made my way to Barrio de las Letras, which I had learned about in my classes, and managed to get lost trying to find it…I had heard that there were literary quotes by famous Spaniards…but I could only find two…so that was kinda sad. Just now in looking on the web, I realized that I also missed out on seeing a statue of don Quijote and Sancho Panza that’s in the Plaza Mayor which I didn’t get a chance to go to…
In between the teleférico and barrio de las letras, I visited the Templo de Debold (Temple of Deblod)…I think one of the only Egyptian temples in Spain. That was interesting.
Anyway, after a while, I realized my time was running out and made my way to the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, where Guernica by Picasso resides. I decided to go the same route I did at the Prado and get an audio guide. The only problem was, I got there around 5, and the museum closed at 7. I decided to try to go in order, except I couldn’t figure out where the first room actually was. For some reason that’s beyond me, there were no maps anywhere–except by the elevators. And these weren’t very helpful either. I’m not entirely sure why–perhaps because the exhibits change? I don’t know, but eventually I found the first room. I saw works by a lot of artists, and I could actually take pictures here, which was kinda weird after being at the Prado. I saw some early Picasso works, other Spanish artists, and Dali as well. Going around this museum wasn’t as captivating to me, and I think maybe part of that was sheer exhaustion from the weekend and also the fact that my feet hurt a lot. Near the end, I could barely stand up, it hurt so bad. This museum differs from the Prado in that it is arranged by exhibit, not necessarily genre. So it wasn’t like all of Picasso’s stuff was in one place. This was fine, and was actually interesting when I saw the cubist gallery, and saw works by artists other than Picasso. Cubism is pretty interesting to me, but I digress.
The two big works on my list were Guernica (Spelled/pronounced in Spanish Gernika), arguably probably Picasso’s most famous piece, his reaction to the bombing of the Basque (The autonomous community’s spanish name is actually País Vasco) town during the Spanish Civil War. The other one on my list was Salvador Dalí’s The Great Masturbator (in Spanish: El gran masturbador). I got to see both.
Picasso and Dalí are two of my favorite artists; I think this has resulted from learning about them, and Spanish art/history/literature is usually more interesting to me than American art/history/literature.
Guernica is interesting and has a lot of history and symbolism. I haven’t read through what’s there on Wikipedia, but I want to. The actual painting measures about 11’5″x25’5″…aka HUGE. I didn’t realize it was that big…so that made it even cooler to see in person. I stood there looking at it for probably 20 minutes…I’m not even joking. It was awesome, in the actual sense of the word–inspiring awe. I stood there staring about it in a crowd of probably almost 50 people, and of course this was one of the rooms in which you couldn’t take pictures…which makes sense. I was gonna try to sneak one but there were two museum people sitting on either side of it in chairs, staring at us. Soooo not gonna happen. Nevertheless, it was a great moment that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long time. I can still picture it, and it’s been about two weeks.
Here’s the mental picture I conjured up…he he, just kidding. Click to enlarge.
Once I got over myself, I went to the next rooms which consisted of some of his planning sketches/paintings, which was really cool to see. The brief story about this is, Picasso had this space for the World Fair in Paris, and I believe he hadn’t painted anything in a year or two for it, but immediately when he herd of the bombing in Gernika, he knew he was going to paint this. It took him a month and a half to paint…that’s incredible, because that’s such a long time to concentrate on one thing, yet it seems really short for this huge a painting. What happened though, was after he painted it (he painted it in Paris) he put it in the care of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, saying that he didn’t want it to return to Spain until liberty had come per the end of Franco’s regime. Sadly this happened, but Picasso didn’t live to see it. He died in 1973, and it retuned in 1981. This wikipedia article said that it was displayed in a section of the Prado behind bomb and bullet proof glass screens, and moved to Reina Sofía in 1992. There’s your history/art lesson for the day!
The museum had quite a bit of Dali’s works, which surprised me, but they were cool to look at. Surrealism and cubism both interest me a lot, mainly because it’s so abstract and weird.
I ended up leaving around 6:30 and going to the train station (which was across the street) about 2.5 hours before my train was actually due to leave because my feet hurt so bad. It was bad. I just sat, and started writing postcards, doing stuff to pass the time. Finally I was able to board my train and return to Málaga. This ride on the AVE was a little bit more shaky than the first, and made more stops, but it was still nice. They played an American movie called The Words (in Spanish they called it La ladrón de las palabras–the thief of words) with Dennis Quaid. It was really interesting and really makes you think. The bonus was they played it in English…as soon as they announced that they would be playing the movie in its original language, that was a sign for me that it would most likely be in English with Spanish subtitles. So that was pretty cool.
I arrived in Málaga around 12:30am, and it was probably 1am-ish when I got home. Unfortunately, the next morning, I went to class at 8:30am to find out that we didn’t have class until 10:30am…no one had told me. And so, it wasn’t worth it to go back in home, so I continued reading the novel Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno. That’s a different post…that day, I read about 60 or 70 pages I think, which is a lot for a novel in a foreign language. I finished the book Tuesday night.
But I will tell that story another time. I’ll leave you with some pictures, the slideshow on Flickr, and a goodbye and hasta la próxima vez (until the next time) when I’m back on American soil!
I think this says “you don’t always find, continue looking”
Statue of Isabel II
Palacio Real from afar
Panda and the monument/palace
Me on the inside of the palace
Panda in front of the cathedral
This was how ornate the lights were.
A self portrait–pretty cool, I think, for having to improvise.
I’m not sure if I was allowed to take pictures here, oops.
But here was ok.
A girl took my picture after I took hers…she didn’t compose the shot very well though.
Flowers for the virgin.
View of the Palace from the cathedral
Does this say what I think it says?
The outside door
Street art in the metro
On the teleférico.
A selfie of me being irrationally scared for absolutely no reason.
Panda with the view
On the ride back.
Last picture from the teleférico.
Hieroglyphics in the Temple of Deblod
Temple of Deblod
Temple of Deblod
What was the first thing that came to my mind? You can guess…..”Draw me like one of your french girls”
This is a cubist self portrait by Dalí.
An interesting self portrait.
These are drawings by Federico García Lorca!
The great Masturbator
I had to get a picture of this guy’s outfit…so colorful.
The Enigma of Hitler
A close up
Panorama of the Palace
From the inside
A panorama of the view from the palace and the gardens