Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On the road again: exotic Elkton, MD

I hadn't seen "me sainted husband" and Sherpa for 2-1/2 months. While I was gone, he'd spent a month in Chile (landing where else but Santiago), with shorter trips to Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Oklahoma and more.

We've known each other for 31 years now and were married in 1990. We decided that if we wanted to actually spent time together, I'd need to not have a 9 - 5 job to be available to go on the road with him.

It's worked well for us over the years. I gave up my singing career and allowed my art to take the stage. I can take my easel anywhere, well, except on the Camino, where it would be too heavy to carry.

So, I am on the road now again with my Sherpa. This is my beloved home state. I grew up about halfway between Baltimore and Annapolis on a deadend road, on a 300 ft. wide creek where we spent summers swimming, fishing, crabbing and imagining. Where I am now is about an hour and a half drive north of my childhood home.

Elkton sits near the top of the Chesapeake Bay and has nothing to offer, so I was told by the desk clerk. No reason to walk into "town". The nearby town of North East, home to Woody's Crab House, was the place recommended for Maryland Blue-fin steamed crabs. I was excited, but after receiving my beer I was told, "We have no crabs." BOO HOO!!!!!

We had a good meal, but . . . Maybe tonight. I drew the only crab I saw last night.

Madrid: Aug. 5, our last evening

Finally it was our last evening, and we were dressed in some of our new duds and heading for a Flamenco Show at Corral de la Moreria.

It cost €50 each for the show and included one drink. If I'd booked the show and dinner, the price would have doubled. I should have booked the dinner. Our seats weren't bad, but would have been better with dinner, and the food looked marvelous.

The dancing, singing and guitar playing were worth the cost, and it was a magnificent way to end a trip to Spain.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Madrid: Aug. 5, last day, more installations

I had a hard time defining a concept fot this large wooden tunnel with a huge fan at the end. The public seemed a little confused as to what to do with this whole thing.

There was a freezer with a sign that instructed you to open it and take a piece of ice (there were two different shapes). Monica told me to put it in my mouth. Into my mouth went the swirl-shaped ice piece; into the tunnel I went. When I almost reached the fan, which didn't blow air on me or anyone else, I got the taste of salt. I waited to see if anything would happen. Nope.

I went back to the freezer for the sqiggle-shaped piece of ice. Monica said it was sweet. The people in the tunnel were just holding the ice, so I tried that. I figured that they spoke Spanish and might know something more than we did. Nope, nothing happened.

I never got an inklig of a concept from this. But I did really like the large wooden structure.

The third photo????

Friday, August 09, 2013

Madrid: Aug. 5, our last day #4, art installations 1 & 2

Both of these installations involved sound. The pier had the sound of water. The money covered tee pee had what sounded like a chain saw and also had a smell to further involve your senses. What the smell was ???? Not a great smell.

I was impressed with the candle wall and the diamond patterns in it.

What do think?

Madrid: Aug. 5, our last day, #3

This was my last view of the Palace, which had a lovely freize of painted tiles. The next building we came to had some nicely clipped trees and more than one large tile painting.

We went in to use the bathroom, but stayed in to look at about 6 large rooms of installation art.

Madrid: Aug. 5, our last day #2

I wondered what the Crystal Palace was, or had been, used for. Just art exhibitions, or was it also a place for concerts, dances and other events. It seemed a little run down, maybe could use a little cleaning to bring back a little sparkle, but who has money for that?

There was a pond outside with black swans and ducks, but the jewels in the crown were the turtles! Especially the huge one whose shell was about 12" long.

We left the Palace and continued our walk.

Madrid: Day 8, Aug. 5, our last day #1

I've been back in the USA since Aug. 6, and many times, I have gotten home from a trip and never get back to blogging the last day or two of my trip. Not this time.

We walked down Calle Atocha from our Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor with the destination of Retiro Park. We passed a really good bakery and stopped in for breakfast.

The first photo is of Vicent's favorite dessert. The second are three of the four pastries we ordered that morning, the fourth pastry was already in my daughter's mouth.

We had never walked on this piece of road and were surprised to find we were near "the block" as it is called in Baltimore, MD. I am not sure it's exactly like the block, but it was something selling sex toys and also a "cabaret show". If you've been here, you can tell me.

We reached the park and headed for The Crystal Palace. We turned left at the angel fountain with the cool gargoyles at it's base, and soon found ourselves there.

Those colored discs are an art installation. Should I tell you the concept, or let you find it yourself?

Madrid: Day 7, Sunday, August 4 - oops hit the send button too soon.

The Dali retrospective was extensive, again, no photos allowed. He had been kicked out of the Madrid art school at the beginning of his career. Later, he received the highest honors, not only by the world of art, but also by the King of Spain near the end of his life.

He crossed over into theatre design, book illustration and movies. He designed the dream sequences in Hitchcock's "Spellbound".

He knew how to work the media, and invented and reinvented his personality over the years. He worked tirelessly and was always experimenting.

There were several clips of films with him speaking about his work and ideas, a short animated film he made with Walt Disney and an interesting and fun film of a party. One of the guests was a young Bob Hope. He was at the dinner table sitting next to a man I didn't know. They raised the huge dome lid off the large platter before them, and there was a plate of frogs. The look of surprise on their faces was priceless. I had the feeling the men weren't sure if the frogs were real since they didn't move. Hope picked up his fork to try and get one and it jumped, and so did he!

I suppose Dali was made for Hollywood, and wouldn't you like to be invited to a party where Dali wore a cardboard headpiece that had his real face in the middle, and photographs of his head looking to each side?

Below is a very short You Tube link on this record breaking exhibition.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Madrid: Day 7, Sunday, Aug. 4

We had a lie in this morning as we didn't get back to our beds from The Lion King until 2:30 am.

Reina Sophia Museum was on our agenda for a retrospective Dali exhibition and Picasso's Guernica.

The exhibition was free at 3:00 pm, but we had an hour and a half wait. Just as luck would have it, the young, tall, gorgeous and kind young man in line in front of me was a dancer in the New York City Ballet. He was in Madrid visiting his family. Time passed quickly as we had lots of intetesting conversation with him.

No photos allowed, again. This evidently was

Madrid: Day 6, Saturday, Aug. 3, a wonderful day

Blouse and shoe shopping unexpectedly took over our morning, and our plan changed totally.

After lunch we finally took a stroll to the Edificio Belles Artes, paid €3 each to get to the roof for views of Madrid. The views were good, but not as good as the best siesta in Madrid: a glass of white wine and some ice water, and a bed under a sunscreen. Just pick an empty bed with cushions and relax! It was a great break from the city 7 floors below, the heat from above and all the walking and museums. If you go to Madrid and need a break, this is a nice place to take it.

We left with the idea to just take a walk up the Grand Via, lined with spectacular buildings all the way. We stopped in any stores we liked, had a scrumptious dinner in a sushi place, and continued to saunter along until we reached the theatre showing "El Rey Leon", "The Lion King".

I suggested we see if they had tickets. I've never seen the animated film or the musical in America. I asked if seats were available for that night and they were: row 15 center of the orchestra. Monica was shocked! We had 1-1/2 hr. wait, so we stopped at the cafe two doors down where I had a lovely raison pastry.

Then off to the magic of theatre. We're amazed that you can get popcorn and drinks and take them inside these beautiful theatres, but you can, and we did.

The show started at 10:00 pm. Wow! What imaginative costumes, scenery, sounds and colors. The actress playing the baboon sang powerfully with her commanding voice! The drummimg and the African tribal chorus singing were such a pleasure to hear. The two you actors who played the young cubs, around 10 years old, were superb. If you've never seen it, you won't regret going.

Madrid: Day 5

I'm having a bit of trouble remembering this day. Got to check my book.

OKAY! You'll like this, I did. The Teatro Real Tour, Cerralbo Museum, Templo de Debod, break and a beer, then the Emitas de San Antonio de Florida with a fabulous ceiling by Goya. Pluse he's buried there! Whew, lots of walking and no siesta.

The theatre tour started at 11am and went on until 1:15 pm! Finally a place to take photos! The bass fiddle cases in the hall, cleaning the huge chandelier that hangs over the orchestra seats, the balconies, me sitting in the hair and makeup room, wigs ( you know how much I love wigs, right), a posrer showing a makeup transformation, Monica in the Queen's box, and the Queen's sitting room with her portrait. We should never had been allowed in this area, but our guide didn't care.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Madrid: last day, morning

Aug. 5, this is pretty current. Sitting in the Prado resting after a morning in the Retiro Park.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Madrid: Day 4, Thursday, Aug. 1, Prado Musem and the Oldest Resto in the World

The Prado and Sorolla Museums were my main reason for visiting Madrid. They are both excellent museums, but different in nature. Sorolla Museum was his home and studio and focuses on his work only, while the Prado is a the large modern musem most of us know. My reason for going to the Prado was to see the works of Goya, and those of Diego Velasquez.

We were immediately distracted by one of two special exhibitions featuring small paintings. This was an intensely good exhibition. It was a thrill to see an self-portrait by Durer, dressed as a nobleman. He looked right into you with a little mischeif in his eye. An interesting painting by a followerer of Bosch called "Landscape of Hell", and an interesting round format multiple painting by Bosch himself called "The Seven Deadly Sins". A series of paintings by David Tenier (will have to look up that spelling) about monkeys was delightful and made us smile. All of his paintings were lighthearted and well painted. He was my favorite discovery in the Prado.

Tired from hours in the museum, we went home for a siesta, before walking to La Latina section of Madrid. It's the oldest section of Madrid with narrow streets and the real neighborhood feeling.

Eventually we wound up in Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world - 1725, so says the Guiness Book of Records.

I was going to get roasted suckling pig, but a man from Virginia said it was good but layers of fat inyertwined. We opted for a filet, twice the size of any I've ever seen. Best steak I've ever had, and with a mushroom sauce. Martin told us to eat well.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Madrid: evening August 3rd

Okay, we've just scored 15th row center for The Lion King!

Madrid: Day 3: Palacio Real, Siesta, and a musical!

Okay, no photos allowed inside the palace. Bummer! They had some impressive rooms. My favorite rooms were the Apothacary, and believe it or not, the Armory. I felt like I'd walked into a fantasy world of knights in armor sitting astride their armored and draped horses! What a marvelous spectacle. Their were several rooms of armor and weapons, but one weapon that had a special meaning for me was the sword and jeweled scabbard of El Cid!

We went back to our comfy beds for siesta, showers, a drink, and then off to see . . .

Frankenstein the Musical. I had been giggling about it since Santiago, when reading it was showing here. It was great! Power lighting, not much scenery, about 40 actors (most playing ghoulish spectres hanging around writhing in anguish, or tormenting the doctor in his mind. It was pwerfully done and we were happy we saw it.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Madrid: Day 2, July 31, Banco de Espana, Biblioteca National, Hard Rock Cafe & Sorolla

We went to the Bank of Espana because Monica had a €50 note that was ripped in half and

Then we visited the National Library. No photos allowed. BUT, even without photos, can you appreciate that we saw a volume of the first 5 books of the Bible printed in 5 languages? BIBLIA, POLIGLOTA (I-IV). The books were compiled into one large Volume with comparative translations in Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Spanish (vulgar) and one other language that we need to look up spread across each two facing pages. The translations took place between 151-1517. In 1520, LEON X gave his  permission to print. 600 copies wete printed, and it was for sale for 6,5 gold ducados.

Tired of standing and hungry, we hit the near by Hard Rock Cafe and had the best cheeseburger ever (we have been eating the same food over and over for a month and a half)!

Then, we went to see the home and studio of the Modern Spanish Master, Sorolla. What a pleasure. Just give me his garden! If you know know the work of John Asaro and Peggi Kroll-Roberts, they are a continuation of Sorolla's figural work in color and brushwork.

We were pleased to learn how much Sorolla loved his family, and was most comfortable and experimental when they were his models.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Madrid: Day 2

We rose, had breakfast, went shopping for some clothes, and went to the tourist board and got a 2-day pass on the hop on, hop off bus.

I said we should just ride the bus to see Madrid. We did. We rode the blue line and then the green. It was wonderful. And a great way to rest the feet, again!

Madrid really is a gorgeous city!

Madrid: Day 2

August 1, 2013
As I said we arrived here by train from Santiago on Sunday night, July 28. We didn't do much eccept take a taxi to the Sol area. The Plaza del Sol area is pedestrian as are several streets that lead off of it. All was in motion.

Our taxi driver could only drop us off by the statue of a bear standing on it's hind legs with front paws leaning against a tree. It's the symbol of Madrid, I believe. Buskers were working, but not many seemed to notice them.

Our hotel was on one pedestrian street. The man at the desk was kind and gave us a good map and good information.

We checked into our €50 a night room. Two things struck us when we walked in, black satin curtains and a musty smell. I though I was back in India when I went to turn on the faucet in the sink and all the plumbing moved.

We had air conditioning and soap. Good thing, as my soap was gone.