Spain Days 9 & 10 – Bonus Days!

Originally, we had planned to fly back to the U.S. on Sunday, because Sam needed to do some work.   However, plans changed, and he needed to go to Lebanon, and I decided to stay a few days for the trip.  


Sam left for Madrid on Sunday morning.   We went to a Spanish chain for breakfast called La Rollerie.   It was nice.  I imagine it to be the Pain Quotidian of Spain.    After he left for the airport I decided to start my art pilgrimage to Guernica.   This is in Museo del Reina Sofia.

I arrived at the museum as it was opening and made my way to Guernica by Picasso.  There were 10 or so people in the gallery, so I had plenty of room to stand in front and linger on it. Usually, I am not a Picasso fan.   He’s excellent, I get it, but I struggle with enjoying it.  I think Picasso is difficult, and my art brain is simply not sophisticated enough for him.   However, when standing in front of a 25′ canvas it is hard not to be in awe.    It’s incredible and entirely engulfing.  The grey sets a tone of bleakness, but the agony of the figures makes the entire piece rather frenetic. Saying that it is powerful is an understatement.  It is art that must be reckoned with and challenges anyone to pass quickly.  It has an almost gravitational quality to it that pulls you in.   Really breathtaking.

I spent a few more hours at the museum.  I was struck by Bombardeo (Air Raid) by Eleuterio Bauset, which is very difficult to find online.   It is a reminder that not every piece of art has been digitally cataloged yet.   It shows an old man holding a baby during an air raid with a woman (dead or unconscious in the foreground). The look of the old man staring at the bombers seems to display his understanding of the inevitability and his determination to save the young life.

Bombardeo (Air Raid) by Eleuterio Bauset

One room has photography from the 1930s with a focus on the photographer, Dora Maar.  The photos were of many different subjects, and one of the things that struck me was that the only nudes were of women.   Frankly, there were only 2 photos of men, and there were fully clothed.  I have a short thesis pinging around about why the modern world rejects the idea that the male body can be beautiful, but it is certainly not fully formed in this post.   I’ll write a bit more on this topic in the Prado post.  A series of Social Photography by Paul Strand in another room of New Yorkers from 1917 was also a standout.

I spent time with a lot of art and enjoyed myself, but one that continues to stick with me is El mono ermitaño by Leonardo Alenza y Nieto.   I am not sure why this sticks with me, but the painting doesn’t feel modern.   It feels romantic and like something that belongs at the Prado, except it is not a saint or martyr but a monkey.  How odd and yet what commentary.   For me, it pokes at the idea that even the most disciplined in their religion are still just animals at the end of it all.   Maybe, I am reading too much into it, but it really did stick to me.

After the museum, I decided to wander into neighborhoods that I had not seen yet.   I found myself at the Rastro radical flower market.  A dozen tables are selling radical left literature, shirts, stickers, and other swag in a plaza.   All of this is next to several fresh flower vendors. I would be thrilled if I could surround myself with fresh flowers and Antifa swag all day long. Honestly, these are 2 of my favorite things.    I got myself a slice of a Galician empanada and enjoyed the sun.


Monday was dedicated to the Prado.   It is truly one of our planet’s most significant collections of art.    I bought my ticket online and decided to add the printed guide to help me make sense of everything.  I expected a map and pamphlet. Instead, I got a full book!  I found myself schlepping this plus Rick Steves around the museum like a scholar. I looked a bit silly, but they helped get me through the museum.

That’s the guide to the Prado!

The collection is beyond impressive.   This is a link to a post about my thoughts on individual paintings in the collection.  Additionally, they had a special exhibit on da Vinci, including a copy of the Salvator Mundi from his workshop.  I recently watched The Lost Leonardo, which is all about the actual da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi.  Oddly enough, that movie also helped me understand Tenet’s terrible film, as Freeports are an essential plot point.  I highly recommend The Lost Leonardo, and I highly discourage you from watching Tenet.

El Retiro Park

After the museum, I enjoyed El Retiro one last time before making it back to my hotel room for a small rest. Then, I headed out for one last meal, where I had great wine and a mediocre salmorejo.   Oh well, not everything can be perfect.

Optional: Museo del Prado

Next: Spain 2021 – Conclusion

One thought on “Spain Days 9 & 10 – Bonus Days!

  1. Pingback: Spain Day 8 – Train trip to Madrid | Rarely Pure & Never Simple

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