We spent a good part of the day walking in very nice weather. The temperature was good when we set out—about 60—and I don’t think it got much warmer than 72. The app that I use to track our movements said we covered about 7 miles but one mile of that was in a taxi (there is a story about that later). We had a leisurely breakfast and left the hotel about 10:00.
Our plan was to go to the Prado first, then the Archeological Museum (where they have replicas of some of the famous Spanish cave paintings) and finally to the Royal Tapestry Factory (which sounds grander in Spanish: Real Fábrica de Tapices) before heading to downtown (Centro) to get something to eat. You may be thinking: that certainly sounds like an ambitious plan. It was far too ambitious.
We walked down to the Prado. There was a substantial line for tickets. No problem: we’ll just walk on down to the Archeology Museum, which isn’t too far. Well, there was a problem. We didn’t notice that the map (in Spanish, but that’s no excuse) said Anthropology Museum—not exactly the same thing. So we walked there, got inside, and realized our mistake. No problem: we’ll just walk to the Real Fábrica de Tapices. It isn’t on the map, but when we looked it up last night we noticed it was close to the Archeological Museum. [Can you see where this is going?] But being a little gun-shy about our map reading skills at this point, Patricia thought we should take a taxi. We got into a taxi outside the Anthropology Museum, and showed the driver the address of the Real Fábrica de Tapices. He shrugged his shoulders, drove us something less than a mile (we could have gotten there on foot in 10 minutes) and dropped us off at a very unimposing building in an undistinguished neighborhood. We went inside and were politely informed that a guided tour was required and that all of the tours were given exclusively in Spanish. Hmm!? Okay, we decided, let’s walk back to the Prado, then to the Archeological Museum. The walk back involved going past the Anthropology Museum, of course, which was only 10 minutes away. The route suggested by Google Maps was about 6 km long and we found a way that was less than 2 km.
When we got to the Prado, there was hardly any line. We got in for the “reducia” price of 7 euros because we are older than 65. I was able to read the Spanish tariff list which told about the reducia price and even asked for it in Spanish. The lady laughed, but gave us the price anyhow. [She was almost certainly laughing at my attempt to say “two reduced price tickets, please.”] The last time we went to the Prado it was undergoing extensive renovation. It is now much easier to navigate and has an entirely new wing. In that wing they have special exhibitions. We were fortunate enough to see “El Greco & Modern Painting” which shows the influence El Greco had on painters such as Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Diego Rivera, Cosio, and Barrés, among many others. It was a wonderful arrangement in 8 large sections. We sandwiched it in between visits to the two floors of the older section. The Prado has so many outstanding pictures that it is difficult to comprehend. We saw many pictures we remembered from our last visit and others we had not seen before. One of those was a duplicate of the Mona Lisa, I used the word “duplicate” on purpose because this version was painted by someone in da Vinci’s studio at the same time he was painting the real Mona Lisa. Having now seen both, I can tell you that to my untrained eye the duplicate looks fresher and somewhat more engaging. I think that is because the duplicate doesn’t have all the little cracks that the version in the Louvre does and it wasn’t protected behind a layer of plastic or glass.
I wish I could have taken pictures for you in the Prado but that isn’t allowed. If you have google Earth, however, you can look at some of the masterpieces in ultra high resolution. Start Google Earth, make sure that you have checked the box labeled “3D Buildings” which is under “Layers” and then enter “Museo del Prado” in the search box. That will “fly” you to the Prado. The museum will appear in the center of your display. Click on the Museum and you will see a list of pictures that can be shown in very high resolution. It takes time to download pieces of the pictures, but you will be rewarded if you try it.
When we left the Prado, we decided to try for the Archeological Museum once again. I looked it up on Google Maps and got directions. The directions took us to the Nacional Biblioteca (Archives). I think the entrance to the Archeological Museum may have been on the other side of the Biblioteca because I have just discovered that they share the same building. [Spanish Tourism Board: some signs would have helped.] In any case, we didn’t get to the Archeological Museum.
The net of all these words is that we had a great day outside and in the Prado but were unable to check off many of our planned visits today. We also know where lots of places we didn’t intend to visit are. We will add them to our list for next time.
Tomorrow we take the train to Toledo for a day visit. In Toledo, at least, it is hard to hide our main point of interest: the Cathedral.
Several of today’s pictures are posted on the Pictures page.