A Day at the Museo del Prado

F 2/17/17

Early morning observation: If you want butter for your bread in Spain, bring it from home. Spaniards don’t do butter. But they do great chocolate.

Dogs are everywhere as we walk to the Prado Museum (Museo del Prado). Dog walking is a thriving business.

Smokers are everywhere, too. You don’t have to be ten feet away from an entrance to smoke. You can light up as soon as you leave a building. We are on low-inhale mode much of the way to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke. More one-way streets than in Ann Arbor; they all look like side streets. Hilly streets remind me of San Francisco, though not quite as steep. Brick-covered streets give it small-world charm.

Eclectic: Häagen-Dazs ice cream in Chinese grocery store.

Arrive at museum. Cop with machine gun patrolling the street.

I’m not a big museum buff. I’ve been known to say, “I don’t know art. I just know what I like.”

But there was something here for everyone. Torture. Virtue. Ascension. Miracles. Sainthood. Portraits.

Emily notices that all of the angels are boys. The museum guard explains that they are supposed to be neutral but is enlightened when Emily points out, in Spanish, “No vaginas.” True, the neutral angels all have penises. Meanwhile, I read the English translations of the descriptions looking for typos, and find one. In “Tobias heals his Father,” I read, “Painted in Venice, this [is] one of the best….”

Emily strikes up conversation with teacher from Austria, notes that we are in Spain for ten days, then back to ice and snow of Ann Arbor. “And Trump,” the teacher observes, making the correct assumption that we recognize his defective nature.

Several Old Testament scenes. Otherwise, only see three references to Jews: 1. a Jewish doctor; 2. a hooked-nose man over a caption describing him as greedy and money-hungry; 3. a scene in the Plaza Mayor of a man of no faith—probably meaning Jewish—being tried by a religious tribunal and condemned.

Emily marvels at how long it must have taken female royalty to get dressed in the morning with their hoop skirts and puffed up hair.

Late-afternoon lunch outside Prado at El Botanico, where, the menu notes, Sir Paul McCartney and Bono ate.

No butter with the bread but waiter brings me olive oil.

Sonja discovers former Jewish section of town at La Playa de Lavapies. Long walk, Emily asks directions three times, but we find it down long hill, past strip of Indian restaurants. No evidence anymore of former Jewish life. Playa consists of playground with slide and several park benches. Five Hispanics sitting on one passing joint. I go into high-inhale mode.

Emily’s friend Rich Fritzson said we had to stop at the Chocolatier so we walked two extra miles looking for it. Well worth the effort. We each receive a coffee cup filled with the richest liquid chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Served with flour/sugar/grease donut sticks to dip. Sugar rush gives us the energy to walk another two miles to dinner. Arrive at 7:30; dinner not served until 8:30. We fill the time with conversation and two bottles of champagne.

Chocolate, champagne, great art, lots of walking but nearly enough to work off the calories we consumed. A full day, our last in Madrid.

Arrive in Madrid, Meet Harrie and Sonja

Th 2/16/17

Smooth flight from Detroit Metro to Paris, superb service from attendants on Delta. But—kid in middle aisle screaming because mom put his luggage in overhead. Continues until he falls asleep, resumes when he wakes up. Food excellent for dinner (vegetarian) and breakfast (neutral). Meanwhile, complimentary wine and beer flow all night until lights out; flow resumes in morning. Emily and I sit in different rows on flight to Madrid.

Emily kibitzes until takeoff with woman from the Philippines: kids, weather, travel itinerary. I smile at man on each side of me, don’t talk. It’s a man thing.

Glad to travel with Emily, who is fluent in Spanish and can fake it in every other language. Helped us get to the hotel from the airport when we got lost twice, Emily asked taxi drivers for directions. I hesitate when I say “Bonjour” to the attendant. Don’t want to screw up. Fortunately I have a charming smile.

Trip to Spain is life-long fantasy for Emily. Happy to share it with her.

Interesting observation about the flight data chart on flight to Paris: Data differ from seat to seat. When I was 1590 feet in the air, Emily was 1722 feet. Obviously the plane was tilted.

Fun fact: The plane will not automatically crash if one person forgets to put his phone on airplane mode. Don’t ask me how I know.

In Madrid, Trump supporter complaining because there are too many foreigners.

Meet Harrie and Sonja at the hotel. Eat, drink, lots of walking, visit Plaza Mayor, more eating and drinking. Watching the news on TV now as we wind down after a long day that started yesterday. Trump is just as much of an embarrassment in Spanish as he is in English.

On the Road to Spain

W 2/15/17

On the road to Spain today to celebrate an amazing forty years being with Emily (who also is coming). Two days in Madrid, then Malaga, which will be our base for the next week.

Hooking up with extended family from the Netherlands, Harrie and Sonja, whom we haven’t seen since we traveled together in Italy three years ago.

U.S. friends, take care of the country for us until we get back. Keep the borders open. I don’t want to get sent back to Galicia or Austria-Hungary, countries of origin that no longer exist.