Zaragoza and Madrid

Will whisked me across northeastern Spain for two weeks.  We spent most of the first one in Zaragoza watching the faceless marchers pace through the streets with their crosses and candles.  After that we went to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, and Barcelona.  To keep the posts a moderately manageable length, and to disguise my own propensity to ramble, I will break up the journey into three posts.

Zaragoza’s old World Expo grounds are actually quite beautiful.  I can’t imagine Shanghai’s bearing up that well after five or ten years.  There is an excellent sculpture by Jaume Plensa, who did “Alchemist” (outside the Stratton Student Center of MIT).  There is also a bridge that looks peculiarly like an orchid.

Will showed me all his favorite spots in Zaragoza and thoroughly impressed me with his Spanish.  His host family were naturally very patient with me and they thought that my height was almost as hilarious as his.

Will and I took the smooth AVE train at a rip-roaring 300km/hr into Madrid on Thursday night.

Madrid was not my favorite city, although it had charm and a wonderful central park and a gorgeous, simple, colorful modern cathedral.  Also, the churros were divine. I have no regrets regarding the two orders of churros we got when neither Will nor I had the money to pay for them or the subsequent run through the rainy winding streets back to get my heavy thick coins from our hostel, just a touch of shame chasing me along.

The Reina Sofia is by far my favorite place in Madrid, which may surprise those of you who have had to drag me through a museum after my half-hour allotment for interest in art was used up.  But I found my interest caught and held tightly by the bright oil paintings in the Reina Sofia.  In fact, I went twice in one day.  I stared at Guernica for fifteen minutes and it wasn’t nearly enough, but I’m very tall and I can only stand in one place at an art museum for so long.  Will and I found the room full of Salvador Dali (and other surrealists) and just stood there gaping.  It was all art that you didn’t have to be extremely self-aware to understand.  You just looked and enjoyed.

Almudena Cathedral Madrid

Almudena Cathedral, Madrid

Moonrise over the Royal Palace of Madrid

Moonrise over the Royal Palace of Madrid

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Monument to Alfonso XII in Buen Retiro park, Madrid. You go, Alfonso.

Monument to Alfonso XII in Buen Retiro park, Madrid. You go, Alfonso.

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Palacio de Cristal in Buen Retiro park

Palacio de Cristal in Buen Retiro park

Will approves.

Will approves.

Fountain of the Falling Angel, Buen Retiro park

Fountain of the Falling Angel, Buen Retiro park

tl;dr: Will showed me around Zaragoza and Madrid and I found art I like.  Churros are delicious.

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