Monday, June 4, 2007

Days 1 & 2: Madrid

Okay, that nasty little surprise is more or less under control. So, let's share some pics, shall we?

Madrid is known for its great museums, less so for its archaeological remains. So most of these pictures will be of things other than ruins. But there will be some, I promise!

I spent most of Sunday morning visiting the Prado, then after a quick nap I saw the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum. Both are can't miss attractions. My favorite aritists are the early Renaissance Flemish painters like van der Weyden, but there was lots of Velasquez and Goya too, and even a good helping of American artists including Copley, Cole, Homer, and Sargent.

Then, I discovered that Madrid was having a book fair. Every time I come to Spain I encounter book fairs. There must have been a dozen or so in the eight months I lived in Vitoria. This one, however, was a little bigger than most:
Over 300 stalls, featuring booksellers and publishers from around the country.

Soon after, my attention was distracted by "the second incident." Today I visited the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. They were featuring a conference on the influence of eastern Islamic art and architecture on al-Andalus, the Muslim possessions in Spain. Not my field, but I caught a couple of papers that were very interesting. Tomorrow, I will return to begin research in earnest.

The rest of the day I spent taking in the sights and roaming the streets. I visited the Parque de la Montaña, a large garden terrace on the east side of the central city. It's one of the few places in Madrid (which is pretty flat, unlike, say, Barcelona), where one can find a scenic overlook:

That's a view of the royal palace. Pretty impressive, what? That's just the half of it. Here's what we have in the opposite direction:

That's right, that's an honest-to-goodness Egyptian temple, the Temple of Debod, originally dedicated to Isis and then relocated to Spain as a thank-you gift from the Egyptian government for Spain's help in relocating the temple at Abu Simbel. 'Twas closed today like all museums, but I'll be back to take a peak at the museum inside.

I also took the opportunity to increase my collection of photographs of statues of obscure Visigothic kings:

This is one of a series covering all of Spanish history from Athaulf (successor of Alaric) to the 19th century. They were originally supposed to decorate the roof of the palace but the queen worried about their weight so they were used to decorate the royal gardens instead.

Finally, some humor. I am always fascinated by the way that Europeans in general, and the Spanish in particular, find the American midwest so intriguing. I am from Nebraska, and I can say we are generally ignored by most Americans. Not so in Madrid. Would you believe a Nebraska restaurant?

Would you believe two?

How about three?

(Alright, the last two are part of a chain, I think. Still.....)

Finally, a bit of Spanglish:

I don't mind if my cream is nice, but I like my coffee surly, thank you.

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