Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Genius of Velasquez . . .

Today, I have my prearranged ticket to the Prado Museum and it was early this morning when I woke up late that I realized that I probably shouldn’t have stayed up so late last night. But I coulnd't help myself! Anyway, I got ready in Olympic world record time and was out the door!

I politely ask the front desk how long is it to the Prado. And he confirmed what I probably already knew. It will take me 15 minutes to walk there and he said I could take the metro but it would end up being the same time! So I’m now thinking that I’m going to be so late. As I walked out the door a taxi was just driving by and I waved him down. It was about 3.30 and was worth every penny. I avoided the ticket and main entrance line because I had read some where on Slow Travel about the ability to purchase these ticket's on line to avoid the long lines. And it workded. I avoided the line and walked to the side where they scanned my on line ticket voucher and I was in.

I have been looking so forward to my visit especially after watching Sister Wendy’s DVD that was recommended by AnnieNC. The Prado is huge and I find a floor plan with a list of the most famous master pieces. I was looking forward to seeing Velasquez and Goya’s work the most and they did not disappoint me. Let’s talk about my favorite, Les Meninas by Velasquez (also Sister Wendy’s favorite). I was really surprised by the sheer size of the painting which demands your attention the second you walk into the room that displays it. There are other really wonderful paintings too like La infants dona margarita de Austria where her eyes pull you in. But Les Meninas is the show case attraction and that is evident by the constant flow of tour groups stopping in front of it. By the way, I would highly recommend that anyone visiting the Prado try to get there as early as possible. Everything about this painting is so impressive and works in whole and in part. Tour group after tour group spoke of the importance of this piece and of the sheer genius in Velasquez to paint such a masterpiece. I totally agree. My other favorites, The Annunciation by Fra Angelico, The Immaculate Conception by Murillo, The Holy Trinity by El Greco, The Family of Charles IV by Goya. I spent about 6 hours in the Prado and really could’ve spent more as you really have to sit there and study each detail to really appreciate each work of art. The color, the eyes and expressions on the faces, the form of the bodies and the little details that are in the painting. It's like there is a story within the story. Watching Sister Wendy’s DVD on Art Appreciation really helped me so much to appreciate my time here (Thanks so much AnnieNC).

I got a little distracted today so didn’t quite make it to the Almudena Cathedral. I’m hoping to do that tomorrow after the big Fiesta de la Almudena which is tomorrow. Today, they were preparing the Stage for tommorow's big public mass in Plaza Mayor and then the procession begins starts in Puerto de Sol, Plaza Oriente and the Plaza Isabel. And there are flowers laid all day at the Plaza de la Almudena. This will be so cool. So although it is early by Madrid standards (12:24 pm), I’m going to call it a night so I can be rested to attend the Fiesta tomorrow.

Here is a really cool tapas bar where I had my very first Calamari Tapas! It was so good! Tapas bar crawl/hopping has to been an art form. Everyone knows what to do and I feel so inexperienced, but the great thing is the people are so cool and friendly and will always help you out. What I really wanted to take a photo of is all the great photos on the walls autographed by probably some famous bull fighters. I'll have to get the name of the bar and post it later. It is located just off the side of the Plaza Mayor (my new favorite hang out on this trip!).

And although I don't eat it, I had to go into this bar. Sometimes I wish I could taste it, it all looked so good.

And just so you know that I'm seeing other things besides Tapa Bars . . . here's the Puerto de Sol

Maria once told me that the one thing she remembered about her trip to Madrid was the beautiful Blue skies. And I too will remember this for years to come. Here is Madrid's beautiful skies with Velasquez and the Prado Museum. By the way the weather so far has been pretty fantastic for November!


  1. Kathy, I'm so envious -- I've always wanted to see the Prado. Even the exterior looks magnificant!

    I also recall how much time Sister Wendy spent on Las Meninas by Velasquez, on her DVD it looked fascinating, with so much going on, on the canvas. You're so fortunate to have seen it.

    Your photos are wonderful -- and I can't get over how blue the skies are, especially in November!

    Hope you're having a wonderful time.

  2. I am enjoying learning about Madrid though your posts. The Prado Museum sounds fantastic. Good for you to find a way past the line. I am continuing to enjoy your photos. How are you doing these posts? Do you have computer access in the hotel? Is your iTouch catching free wireless? Glad you are having good weather! Have fun!!

  3. It sounds like you are having a great time! Thanks for taking the time to blog... also I don't know if they have real "jamon" in them but you could always get some jamon jamon ruffles potato chips instead of real ham. Get me some too!

  4. Oh Kathy, that sounds like such a wonderful day...six hours in the Prado, wow! I'd love to see Las Meninas in person; I know it's very large but I have no real sense of the scale.

    Museum of Ham? That's funny!

    And yes...North Carolina turned BLUE! It took them several days to finish counting the votes but Obama won by about 14,000 or so! I am SO happy and proud!

    Thanks for keeping us updated and keep having fun! Take care, Annie

  5. Thanks so much girls! I am definitely having a great time thanks to all of you!

    Sandra you would love the Prado! When Sister Wendy said that was her favorite piece I was curious and it wasn't until I saw it in person did I really understand what she meant. It is almost mesmerizing the way Velasquez painted that piece. He's so awesome!

    Girasoli, at the very last minute and I mean the last minute, I threw my very light (thankfully) Sony Vaio into my backpack. There were so many advantages one being blogging via my free wi-fi in my hotels. I think the only time I'll have to use the Internet cafe will be in Sevilla as my apartment doesn't have wifi. So I considered it a time and cost saver. It's so convenient!

    Shannon! It's fun to blog and it helps to remember things I think. Plus I take such great pleasure in reading all your blogs that I really wanted to join in on the fun and share as well. Jamon Jamon. I must try that! I would love to bring you back some but I think they would get totally squished during the flight home! :)
    By the way, Spain (so far for me) is awesome!

    Annie, you would also love the Prado. And I think it is so awesome that NC turned it blue! Whoo Hoo! We all wanted NC to turn Blue for Obama for you.

    Thanks again everyone! I guess I should try to go to bed early tonight if I want to get an early start to Toledo tommorrow, :)

  6. What a fantastic post! I love Velazquez and the Meninas is one of my favorite paintings.

    Lovely photos and it's good to see that the sky in Madrid is still as blue as I remember.

  7. Hi Maria, Velazquez' Meninas is now one of my favorites too. It was so beautiful. I'll never forget Madrid's beautiful blue skys too. The weather was so good the whole time except for that first evening when it drizzled a little in the evening.

    I was surprised I really enjoyed Madrid as much as I did considering it was so crowded but I really did.

    Thanks so much for your comments Maria.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.