Saturday, March 18, 1989

Un Día en El Prado y El Retiro ...

Today was El Prado Day - finally, a chance to see the famous Madrid art museum. Fortunately, I was not discovered spending the night at the Residencia, so when we awoke we made it look like I had just arrived and went down to get some breakfast. We waited for a pack lunch to substitute the one we would not be getting at the Residencia, but when it didn't come, we decided it wasn't worth waiting any longer and left.

We took the Metro to the stop close to the American Express building, and ate lunch at McDonald's (two McPollo sandwiches.) I then bought loads of postcards at a store that sold them for 10 ptas. apice, so I ended up buying 20 for the equivalent of about £1. We arrived at the American Express building, but it was closed, so we continued toward El Prado. We stopped at two gift shops before entering the magnificent art museum... free admission with our international student ID cards. (Pictured is the entrance to the museum.)

"El Jardin de las Delicias," by Bosch

It is an absolutely incredible art museum... so vast that we didn't get even close to seeing the whole thing on this visit. Fortunately, we should be able to carve out some time during my stay to come back and explore the second floor. But on the first floor we saw pieces from Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Anthony Van Dyck, and many other master works. We saw some works by Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez on the second floor before we started to get exhausted and decided it would be better to save these paintings for another day.

We walked out of the museum to a very brisk afternoon and headed toward the nearby El Retiro. (Pictured is me at the park.) We sat by the lake for a bit, but because it was quite chilly, Viv and I decided it best to catch the Metro back to the Residencia.

Viv and I spent the rest of the evening there, at first relaxing, me writing out some postcards, but then I got an opportunity to lead this band of merry international students in a brilliant game of "Up the River, Down the River." With students from England, France, Germany and Holland, the only common language they all have is Spanish... and I don't have that one, making it difficult to converse with many of them. However, I learned just enough to lead this drinking game. It was foreign to all of them (actually, the concept of a drinking game is somewhat unusual. As Kurt said, "We don't play games, we just drink." But they were game to try it out.)

The game went on for well over an hour, and we had some very interesting rules added to the game at the end of each round (failure to follow a rule results in the taking of a penalty drink.). The rules included, "You must drink with one hand on your head," and when a 3 comes up, you must put your hand on the bed, last person taking a drink. It was especially great because Kurt had 3 Kings, which got him beyond buzzed right quick. If it could take down a serious drinker like Kurt, you know it's an effective game! (Pictured playing a game are some of the international students. Angie and Kurt are laying down. Viv is to the left with her back to the wall. The others are international students whose names now escape me.)

Anyway, when the game finally ended, Viv and I chatted for a good long time, and we finally went to sleep at about 3 a.m. Of course, most of the other students were still up when we fell asleep.

Pictured above is one of the guides provided by the museum, this one for the Goya section of El Prado. Very interesting publication. At least, I think it is. It's all in Spanish so I can't read it. But the photos are nice.

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