|El Museo Prado was the first stop on my list this morning. As I've been looking at my schedule for the remaining days here in Spain, I've realized that the things that I want to do are slowly slipping away from me. With a trip to Salamanca next week and a trip to Málaga in the works, I won't have too many full days left in Madrid. So having that in mind, I decided that I better get to the Prado while I had a free day. A few hours browsing art followed by a nap in El Retiro sounded like the right thing to do with this day. And that's exactly what I did.
I wasn't allowed to take pictures in El Prado, which is a shame because there was a lot to see. Of course, I saw some fantastic works of art, most of which were portraits. Goya had a lot of works present in El Prado, and the majority of them were rather dark. His "Perro semihundido" is probably the one that stuck out most to me. It was a large painting with the head of a dog looking at someone/something off the portrait, and it looked as if the dog was sinking in quicksand. The expression on the dog's face was sad, yet comfortable. I was a little uneasy looking at it, but it intrigued me. Lots to think about with that one. Another painting that I enjoyed was El Bosco's "El jardín de las delicias". This painting was set up in a triptic format—on the left panel was what El Bosco perceived to be paradise, and on the right was hell. The center panel depicted a blending of the two. There was so much to look at in this painting that it reminded me a lot of a "Where's Waldo?" book. "La extracción de la piedra de la locura" by Jan Sanders van Hemessen was one of the first paintings upon which I stumbled, and it kind of made me cringe a little. It depicted a woman with a portion of her forehead cut open so that a rock could be removed from her mind. It was kind of gruesome to look at it, but it intrigued me all the same. And, of course, it wouldn't be a trip to El Prado if I didn't get a glimpse of "Las meninas" by Diego Velálquez. It was probably the painting that I was most excited to see, and when I arrived to the room where it's located there was a large group of people admiring it. "Las meninas" is a rather large painting, which surprised me. I didn't know what size it would be, but it was much, much larger than I had even anticipated.
What I like most about museums like this is how old some of the art pieces are. Some of these works are centuries old, and to stand in front of one and admire it and think My God, this thing is four hundred years old!! is quite incredible. While the paintings are each unique and incredible in their own way, I have to admit that after about two hours of walking around and seeing all the art, it all started to blend together and my mind couldn't process what I was looking at anymore. That was an invitation to call it a day at the museum and head out.
El Jardín Botánico is located just south of El Prado, and I felt alright with coughing up the 3 € to enter the garden. While I've definitely seen a lot of amazing parks in Europe since I've been here, I have to say that this one was the biggest disappointment. If I were a botanist or knew what specific plants were, I might have enjoyed it more. I have some landscape friends back home that would have appreciated it a lot more than I did, but I made a quick lap through the garden, sat on a bench for a little bit and drank my water, and then decided it was time to head to El Retiro and find a tree to lay under.
El Retiro was just across the street from El Jardín Botánico, and I remember an area from last week that looked just right for laying down and taking a quick siesta. I found my shade, laid down on the soft grass (which you don't really see a lot in Spain), and took a quick half-hour nap. It was glorious, just as I had envisioned it to be. Like I said before, if this park were in Indianapolis, I'd be there all the time taking advantage of how nice it is, but mostly I'd be napping in the shade. If there are places like this in Indianapolis, let me know! Though really, naps on the couch are just as great, and they're a little more conveniently located.
The rest of the evening was spent listening to the thunderstorm (I know y'all have been getting a lot of rain in the States, but it's been hot, sunny, and dry here—I felt like a kid in a candy store while listening to the thunderstorm) and packing for my trip to Sevilla tomorrow. I'm anxious to head south and do some sight-seeing, but mostly I want to relax and just take it all in. Playing the tourist is fun for a while, but I much prefer blending in.