We had a fabulous location for our home base. Emily had found a "studio" apartment for us to rent for the 2 weeks of our visit. Besides being right next to her office--so she could drop in with croissants each morning, we could meet her for lunch and take off from there after her work was ended--it was in the most incredible location for our tourist wanderings. We were in walking distance (did I tell you we walked 1000s of miles?) of 3 great museums: the Prado, Museo Reina Sofia, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the train station, a hard working everyday market, the fabulous new Mercado San Miguel, and Plaza Mayor (below).
There is no way to describe the collection at the Prado--everything for everyone. We spent one day there mostly focused on Goya--seemed a good idea to have a focus because there was no way to take it all in. The Reina Sofia had a wonderful collection of the great Spanish painters--Picasso, Miro, Salvador Dali, Jean DuBuffet, and, new to me, Lucio Fontana. I was very surprised to see some art work by the poet Fernando Garcia Lorca. The work of Dubuffet and, to a greater extent, that of Fontana (see a piece of his work below) were stimulating to me in relation to my ceramic work--I look forward to seeing how that might find expressing in my work (when I get back into the studio!)
The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza had a wonderful special exhibition, "Monet and Abstraction". In the show Monet's work was displayed in chronological order accompanied by the work of artists who were influenced by Monet's work--leading to Abstract Expressionism. Very interesting and thought provoking.
We loved walking through the "old" section of Madrid--narrow streets, tapas bars, many small plazas with welcoming places to rest and have a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and those incredible, beautiful old-world buildings. The architecture of those buildings is so majestic--why don't we build like that any more? Maybe because there is no longer royalty who can order the work and pay for it by taxation!
In the old working mercado we found wonderful cheese and ham for our first evening nibble with wine in our apartment--after a late lunch of Spanish tortilla made for us by Emily's partner, Joel. At the new market, Mercado San Miguel, we saw the most beautifully arranged stalls with elegant foods--foie gras, caviar and champagne, wonderful cheeses, shellfish, wines, and beautiful desserts. All this elegant (and expensive) food is eaten in the market, out of hand, standing around the stalls. There are tall tables with bar stools--but not nearly enough for the crowd. Very surprising situation--it would not succeed here in San Antonio--perhaps in the capitol cities, but i wonder if it would make it anywhere here.
This gentleman is eating his cavier, with his champagne, at the cavier stall (above.)
An arrangement of dried fruits and nuts.
We loved shopping in the little speciality shops and at the huge Sunday Market--where my sister's new iPhone was picked from her pocket while we browsed the treasures there for sale! Very sad experience.
The last Sunday, just before our departure on Tuesday, we had raosted-suckling-pig dinner at a lovely old restaurant (in operation since 1725). That evening we attended a most wonderful performance of flamingo dance built around Lorka's popular poem, "Llanto Por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias." Most impresive and memorable experience--a perfect 'tapa' for our trip!