This Weblog comes from Mindy McAdams and resides at It's a personal blog and probably not of much interest to anyone but me. You are welcome to read and comment as you like.

June 19, 2004


Well, I have to say something about Madrid. I've been here since Wednesday morning, and I'm really enjoying it. I came to interview Rafa Höhr, a great infografista at El País. The interview was yesterday, and it went very well. Rafa is a wonderful person, very modest, incredibly talented. This was for the book -- of course.

So the last time I was in Madrid (the only other time, in fact) was 1989, at the tail end of my first European trip. Maybe I was just tired, but I was not impressed. It was terribly hot, even though it was October. I couldn't get used to when people here eat and when the stores close (for like three hours in the middle of the afternoon). Not too strangely, the two are closely related. This time I'm having no problem. I don't always eat lunch (well, dinner, the main meal of the day) at the same time as the local people, but I'm having no trouble being where I want to be when it's open and eating when I feel like eating. Maybe I had a lousy guide book back then. Maybe I was still pining for Italy. Who knows?

This time around, it's like, hey, I could live here! The weather is fantastic, compared with muggy old Florida. It's like New York, only more compact in the center, and with a bunch of pedestrian-only streets right in the middle of everything (that clever European thing). I'm in a small ultra-modern hotel just off the Gran Via (which reminds me of Broadway just north of Times Square) and it's a short walk to El Corte Inglés, which is one of those department stores with about a hundred floors (okay, eight or nine) and a full supermarket in the basement. In my experience, access to a department store supermarket makes a big difference because you can always get giant bottles of water (for .44 Euro) and tubes of LU cookies. Not to mention a Swiss Army knife (12 Euros) when you discover you forgot to bring yours!

I knew I wanted very much to return to the Prado, because it was the only thing I liked here last time. Better than I remembered it, and I remembered it as wonderful. I think they have moved Las Meninas and Goya's Negras to new rooms since then, because they were in really marvelous spaces. There were some Caravaggios I never would have remembered were here (David, his foot on dead Goliath's back) and some lovely Tintorettos. The El Grecos were much more impressive than in my memory. Goya's 3 de Mayo and Velasquez's Las Meninas were exactly as I had remembered them.

That was Thursday. The interview was Friday. I wrote up the notes all night Friday, until midnight.

Today I went to the Royal Botanical Garden, and with this perfect weather (I think it's in the 70s F until around 1 p.m.; the TV keeps saying mucho calor, but it's quite nice, and very breezy), it was like walking in heaven. Afterward I really meant to have lunch and then just come back to the hotel and work, but I couldn't do it. I was thinking I really needed to go and visit Guernica, because I have not seen it since it left New York -- it must be 20 years. I used to go to MoMA so often, and I would always pay it a visit, and then it was gone. I missed it.

It's in this museum called Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, a stone's throw from the Atocha station. Turns out it's an extremely cool museum! It's very new, but it's inside a converted giant old building; something about it reminded me of the Tate Modern (but it was not a factory).

Guernica is much taller and less wide than I remember it. That was very strange! I walked in and I felt like they had cut off the sides. I kept trying to figure out what was missing -- but nothing was, of course. Everything is there -- the horse, the wailing women, the person with water for hair. It's in an excellent setting, very easy to stand and stare as long as you like. It even turned out to be free (the museum) today after 2:30 p.m., so that was a nice surprise. I was too beat to see everything in the place, but they have a nice collection of Juan Gris (a personal favorite of mine) and a neat little display about the surrealists, including a Magritte I never even saw a photo of. Some early Dalis; interesting.

There's a pretty enclosed courtyard (with a huge Calder mobile and flowering trees) that you can enter through the museum, and the big plaza in front of the place was full of people hanging out and local children riding bikes and playing with balls. When I left, I walked up Atocha, but I soon went north a few blocks -- and discovered a very good street, Huertas, which was full of locals both returning from their Saturday shopping and going out for their evening tapas. Que bueno.

Posted by macloo at June 19, 2004 03:45 PM
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