We arrived back safe and sound Monday evening, only to be greeted Tuesday morning with the sobering news of a tragic crash in the Alps – not even on our route, and not our airline, but still…it certainly gives one pause, especially if you are one who has to give yourself the “Think how many flights there are every single day” pep talk when you fly…especially in the moments when the wheels noisily retract and the engines shift to cruising mode or whatever it is they do, but that feels like all the machinery has just stopped operating…
I don’t think I’ve posted since Friday. I’ll do Saturday here, then Sunday in another post.
My daughter was returning to Germany Saturday afternoon, but we still had a couple of hours to be with her before she jumped on the Metro with her suitcase at noon.
So, to save time, we took a taxi (and it only cost one Euro more than it would have taken us all to ride the Metro) out to the Temple of Debod, which had been located on land flooded as a result of the Aswan Dam. (Another temple relocated for the same reason is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC). It was a brief, but interesting stop. The location is well-done and the upper floor of the main building has been outfitted with educational presentations done in the excellent way I experienced in every Spanish museum. They really do that hi-tech stuff well.
From there, we walked to San Antonio de la Florida Chapel, which features wonderful paintings – including the dome portraying a scene of St. Anthony raising a man from the dead – by Goya, and is where he is buried.
As we walked up, I saw well-dressed people getting out of cars and heading in the same direction, and we thought, “Oh no…wedding,” and yes there was, but in the other chapel – they built a chapel for parish use next to the original, so the original could be seen by all, no matter if services were going on or not.
(No photos of the interior were allowed….not even for the puppet show that was being set up. For some reason.)
Then another taxi back to the apartment, a quick lunch at the wonderful Mercado San Anton – one block from our apartment – and farewell to the sister….
…at which point we headed out again, back west (on the Metro this time) to the Museo de America. It was closing at 3, so we had to hurry.
It was, as you’d expect, a good collection of artifacts from the Maya, Aztec, Inca, as well as from the Colonial period – although the collection at the Met in New York is even more impressive. I was most interested in the period paintings depicting colonial life, especially those highlighting – as a positive – the mixed-race aspect of family life in Spanish America. And although all the placards were in Spanish, it was still evident enough to me that the perspective offered on the Spanish conquest of the Americas was…different than what you would probably find in a museum in this hemisphere. I didn’t see any hand-wringing or much – if any – mention of disease or exploitation.
Anyway, the Maya-mad 10-year old enjoyed himself!
It was only 3 pm that point, but it was rainy, so my hope of doing bikes in the park the city of Madrid built over a highway tunnel, were dashed. Instead, we headed east to the Naval Museum, which is free. (Although note – they will ask for a donation anyway, and the fellow who took mine, clearly didn’t feel that 4 Euros was enough to support the Spanish Navy). I had very good memories of the stunning maritime museum in Barcelona, and while this would certainly be interesting to people who are…well…interested…in matters maritime, it was less so to us. Lots of scale models, lots of paintings of admirals, some mastheads, which were great, and the highlight of the collection – this, drawn by Juan de la Cosa, who accompanied Columbus on his three exhibitions, the first map showing the western hemisphere, made in 1500, and perhaps even used to explain matters to Isabella and Ferdinand. That was awe-inspiring to see. Between that and the hand-written manuscripts by Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross…we were ridiculously close to some great stuff on this trip.
(But we did look in vain for references to a certain event that occurred in 1588…..)
Back to the apartment, then I went out in search of food, returning with an odd assortment of a roast chicken, arancini, and bread. Huh. After they ate, I headed out alone back to the Puerta del Sol area to do some undistracted surveying for the final Souvenir Push on Sunday!
A note on our taxi drivers. First, it is incredibly easy to hail a taxi in Madrid. They are everywhere, and happy to take you wherever you need to go.
(When we were in New York City last summer, I hailed a cab because we were dead tired and just wanted to get back to the hotel, which was maybe 8 blocks away – I told the guy through the window where we were going and he snorted, said something unintelligible and drove away. Someone told me later to not tell them where you are going until you are actually in the car, since at that point they are prohibited from turning the customer away. Lesson learned.)
The fellow on the way over to the Temple was taciturn, which is obviously fine with me. The driver on the way back was way more talkative, but what he had to say was intriguing. My daughter was sitting in the front seat, and he handed her a small volume of bound pictures – his art, he said (after telling us that his wife is Brazilian, and how much he wants to visit America). He went on to tell us that he had a religious conversion – that he had never paid much attention to his religion, until something happened, and he came to understand how important faith in Jesus is, and “He changed my heart.”
He tends to do that, yes?