The Finer Arts

Yesterday I went to Madrid to see El Museo del Prado with a few people. I liked the very small piece of Madrid that we saw, because there were, surprisingly, so many trees.


(There’s a lot of sky in this view of the Prado… because I like sky, but also because there were some random tourists in front that I didn’t want in my picture. Sorry, random tourists.)

I’ve been hurting for an art museum, so it was a good trip. We saw a lot of Goya, which was interesting especially considering that we’ve been studying him in our culture class. I like his portraits a lot, and his “darker” works are definitely… dark.

“El Bosco” has some crazy surreal stuff. I couldn’t stop looking at El Jardín de las Delicias (The Garden of Earthly Delights). Hell is the stuff of nightmares.

It was strange to see all the paintings I’ve seen in books for years, like St. Catherine of Alexandria. Much bigger than I imagined… and I loved the red of her cloak. Things like that don’t come through in prints.

I think the sculpture was still my favorite. I can’t imagine what it must be like to carve such intricate and expressive details into a block of marble. Maybe it’s the three dimensional aspect of sculpture that I like. Maybe I still just want to go back to the “touch gallery” at the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can touch the sculpture. I’m just as tactile as I am visual, and I really just want to touch art.

…perhaps not as creepily as that sounds?

The Prado still wasn’t as enormous as I’d imagined… maybe because so many parts of it were closed. It only took us a few hours to wander through it. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant… oh man, I haven’t eaten Thai food in forever. As much as I like Carmen’s spanish food, I miss the international flavor of the Ypsi-Ann Abor area. Especially the cheap international flavor. I’m going to cook a lot of spanish tortilla when I get home, but I’m also going to be very happy to go eat at Dalat and Al Noor and maybe even a little Temptations. 🙂

We were delayed by an ice cream emergency of sorts, and got on the metro a half hour before our train was supposed to leave.

Here’s us, not being on time. Despite running up some escalators like crazypeople, we missed the train. Luckily the lady changed our tickets for free, and we got on the next train leaving for Ávila just fifteen minutes later.

It was a good trip, and now that I’ve taken the metro and the train a few times I’m a little more confident of my abilities to shlep around Madrid. I plan on going back sometime next week to see the Reina Sofia… I’m looking forward to seeing some more modern art. After culture class today, I’m especially excited to go see Picasso’s Guernica.

In class we learned a little bit about the history of Guernica: a town bombed by German planes during the Spanish Civil War. The horse and the bull in Picasso’s painting have been interpreted various ways– the bull as Franco’s army and the horse as the town, or as Spain itself under Franco. I think all the interpretations are interesting because of the roles of these animals in Spain. Although the strength of the horse is traditionally more controlled than the bull, both are used by people for their own devices. It’s tradition to provoke the bull to violence, which is very interesting in the context of this painting and the identities usually attributed to its components.

The painting itself was painted in France, and was in the US for many years, until it returned to a democratic Spain.

Speaking of bulls, I may go to a bullfight in Ávila this Sunday. I’m very unsure about this. I want to go because it’s such a tradition in Spain, and because people get so excited about it, but on the other hand I don’t know if I can handle it. Basically, I don’t want to go watch the bulls die…. but I do want to go watch the people watching the bulls die. ¿Vale?

We’ll see.

It’s also possible that I may go puenting this weekend.

Puente = bridge
Hacer puenting = A word based on “fake english” that basically means throwing yourself off a puente. AKA bungee jumping.

(They say “hacer footing”, too, to mean jogging. Silly Spanish.)

When the moment comes, someone may have to throw me off the puente, but I’m determined to be brave and do as many ¡con dos huevos! things as possible on this trip.

And speaking of Germany (that is, Germans other than those who bombed Guernica) we’ve been learning a lot of really interesting things about the German language and culture from Bernd, a German student who is in Ávila for two weeks to study Spanish. He’s living with Anna and I, though he’s going to a different school and program. The señora has trouble pronouncing his name, so most times she just yells an anonymous “¡Bajate para comer!” (Come down and eat!) up the stairs when it’s time for dinner.

I can’t really pronounce any German either, as I’ve discovered. But we’ve learned the German word for “mullet” (which I can’t remember or pronounce) and some insults, which are fascinating… for instance, one major insult is to call someone “a person who parks their car in the shade so that it won’t be too hot when they return.”

…and I do believe that I’ll leave you on that note. Some Spanish socialization tonight, and our class trip to Salamanca tomorrow. Assuming I survive puenting, I’ll see you later. 🙂

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