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[OM] IMG: Madrid, mostly art

Subject: [OM] IMG: Madrid, mostly art
From: Nathan Wajsman <photo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 2020 07:05:22 +0200
Last Friday I made the first trip away from Alicante since coming home from my 
last business trip in early March. I have long wanted to make another day trip 
to Madrid, alone, to visit art museums at my own pace and generally enjoy the 
big city for a few hours. So that’s what I did on Friday, the first day of my 
summer vacation. The logistics were simple: I took the high speed train AVE at 
7 a.m., arriving in Madrid at 9:30, spent the day there, and took a 19:20 train 
back to Alicante in the evening. I started by visiting the Museo Reina Sofia, 
the main contemporary art museum in Madrid, which houses Picasso’s Guernica 
painting (no pics of that, as there is a prohibition against photography in 
that room, and there are several attendants to enforce it). I then took a walk 
in the magnificent Parque de Buen Retiro, Madrid’s equivalent of New York’s 
Central Park, and then went to the recently re-opened Museo del Prado to see 
(again) some of my own favourites from previous visits, including the Flemish 
masters, Hieronymous Bosch, the Spanish painters Veláquez, Goya, Murillo etc. 
In-between I visited another cultural icon, the bar El Brillante, and had an 
early lunch of their excellent version of one of Madrid’s signature sandwiches, 
the bocadillo de calamares. After the Prado I walked to the centre of the city 
(I walked everywhere; given the epidemic, I did not want to use Madrid’s metro 
to move around as I usually do), first Puerta del Sol, heart of the shopping 
district, and then Plaza Mayor, a large square containing Madrid’s old town 
hall and lined by bars and restaurants that usually making a roaring trade 
vastly overcharging the tourists for mediocre food. But not now. The plaza was 
virtually deserted, and had I wanted a table at one of the restaurants that 
were open for business (quite a few had not bothered to re-open) I would have 
had ample choice. The museums were also almost empty—they are only allowed to 
let in 1/3 of the usual maximum number of visitors, but do not even come close 
to that. This was nice for me, not that nice for the museums. 

The virus-control procedures are quite strict. It goes without saying that 
facemasks are compulsory everywhere; to enter the Prado you must submit to a 
temperature check and if you score 37.5C or above, you will not be admitted. I 
was slightly concerned because I had just spent an hour in the Retiro park, and 
the outside temperature was getting close to the afternoon high of 40C, but I 
need not have worried—my temperature was 36.5. At the Atocha train station 
where were gates through which passengers would pass, and the same rules 
applied—anybody with a temperature of over 37.5C would not be allowed to board 
the train. On the train, none of the usual services were available—the 
cafeteria car was closed, no free earphones or newspapers were distributed as 
is usually the case, and passengers were encouraged to stay in their seat 
throughout the journey and not to talk to other passengers. Obviously masks 
were worn by everyone throughout.

Enough words. Here are the photos I took, many of the art works at the Reina 
Sofia, a musuem I have visited before but always together with someone else. 
This was the first time I really had time to explore it, and I was really 
astounded by the quality of Spanish painting in the postwar decades, when 
cultural life in this country was constrained by the Franco dictatorship—but 
this did not keep its artists from producing excellent work (I see some of the 
same when I visit Poland and look at art from Communist times—the censors were 
too stupid to catch some of the nuances of modern art; writers had it more 

So come for a Covid walk around Madrid, that looks familiar and yet very 
different from the city I am used to visiting:



Nathan Wajsman

Alicante, Spain
http://www.frozenlight.eu <http://www.frozenlight.eu/>
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PICTURE OF THE WEEK: http://www.fotocycle.dk/paws 
<http://www.fotocycle.dk/paws>Blog: http://nathansmusings.wordpress.com/ 

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