Miles and Miles and Miles in Madrid
After the complete clusterfluff of lighting mishaps at The Prado, the Reina Sofia was a breath of fresh air. Plus, modern art. I love modern art, and I will always love modern art if just simply because so many people hate it. There is no indifference regarding modern art, and I am nothing if not a lover of things that make people talk. Plus, I had the unique experience of being a highly affronted twelve year old standing before Ellsworth Kelly’s Spectrum V whisper hissing to my father, “This is ridiculous. I could have done that.”
Oh, but wise beyond his years, and his engineering degree, my father bent down to my twelve year old level and whisper hissed back, “Yeah, but you didn’t.”
Instant appreciation. Instant undying love for modern art. Plus, have you ever sat in the Met and watched other visitors come across Spectrum V? Love it or hate it, it makes people stop and stare every single time.
But enough about New York, you came here so that you could be shamed into loving modern art just as much as I do.
The Reina Sofia is a converted sanatorium and glass palace of art. It houses Guenerica, a painting so vast and powerful, everyone was just standing and staring, but half of that is also probably due to where it was and how it got there. Oh, the importance of art being In-Situ. But I won’t bore you with the history lesson. You aren’t getting two credits to sip gin in Madrid for four days. I am.
And after the Sofia, in who’s gift shop I wanted everything branded with their gorgeous mark, Pamela herded us through the Parque del Retiro for a stop by at the breathtaking Cristal Palace, some gorgeous bracelets purchased from the kindest street vendor I’ve ever met, a jaunt around the closed (though inexplicably so) Velasquez Palace and lunch aside the reflecting pool in the garden. Sangria this time! More Spanish tortillas. Potatoes and some traditionally delicious tomato topping. Anchovy stuffed olives. So much traditional Spanish food, but for the love of god, where was the ham?
But apparently they don't let the experts run the museums in Madrid. Because our next visit was to the Thyssen-Bornemisza, a private collection donated to the state on the condition that the lady of the house got to pick the color of the walls. Easily 432 gallons of paint later to cover the walls in shoddy electric terracotta, and my camera has color blindness and I have severe creative entitlement rage standing in front of a Degas screaming, THIS WOULD LOOK SO MUCH BETTER ON WHITE. HOW CAN I SEE THE COLORS. Don't even get me started on what standing in front of a Fauvist work was like. At least the modern art wing was in white. And everything wasn't lit by a blind person. And post museum, more gin! Spanish siesta is so much cooler than English high tea.
So it was a whirlwind of museums. It had to be to justify those two credits in between all of the cocktails . But we did do some shopping down Fuencarral, Madrid's avant garde shopping district where I spent more money than was advisable on a pair of Spanish-designed leather and suede riding boots that will make all my dreams come true, and hopefully not get ruined in London. And I made an ass of myself trying to shop in broken Spanish, which ended up being more broken English courtesy of the eager salesman's impressive array of English shoe-related words. And we traipsed up to the subplanted straight-from-the-banks-of-the-Nile Debod Temple about a kilometer north or our apartment. We popped into the crypt at the Alumdena Cathedral, and completely missed the rest of the church (accidentally, I assure you.)
But the best part, ever the best part, and worth going all the way to Madrid for if you were wondering, was the stunning Mercado de San Miguel, a veritable mecca of delicious. A waiter, an impressively English speaking waiter with English menus--ask before making yourself a fool trying to order in Spanish--had mentioned it to us in passing, so out of things to do on our last day in Madrid, we ventured up, and were immediately floored by the wall to glass covered wall jam packed space. Gourmet street food. The tour of Spain I would have given myself if I could afford it, classic masterpieces be damned. But everything is sold tapas sized. Plates of paella, glasses of sangria, miniature cones of helado, heaps of the fluffiest mozzerella that has ever graced this planet. Olives, croquettes, entire shanks of jamon, I would have spent my life savings in there if it weren't go the limits of my stomach.
Must go back. And next time, we must go to tour only the food.