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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 23, 2015

Friday and the Prado Museum

That means no pictures til I got done and outside and insanely enough decided to walk through the botanical garden which is right next door.

The museum was a good experience overall.  It was huge of course and I don't know about most people but I always have a hard time keeping track of where I am, what direction I should be going, have I been here, should I go there, etc.  But there were two paintings in particular I wanted to see and I wasn't sure one of them would even be on display but it was - they both were.

One was the Garden of Earthly Delights painted by Heironymus Bosch around 1505(!) is an incredible thing to see up close and personal.  It's a triptych meaning there are two narrower side panels and then a big center panel.  The back of the triptych is also painted and all four elements together teach people why they should strive to be good and not seek after worldly pleasures.  The back shows the world on the third day of creation before anything was added - no people, no animals, no apple tree, no snake.  It's very muted - basically black and tans.  The front side is a very different matter and looking at it, it's hard to believe it was painted 500 years ago.  The colors are brilliant - pinks, blues - and the shapes are very modernistic seeming to me anyway.  I'm posting a link to a site I found after seeing the painting because there was nothing in the museum to explain all the symbolism and I wanted to know what some of the wildness was saying.  Click here if you'd like to see the triptych without necessarily taking time to read all about it.


The other painting I wanted to see was one that I've seen Sister Wendy on public television explain as she goes through various museums and totally empty rooms to view fabulous art.  The rooms in front of these very famous paintings are very much not empty and you have to just sort of squish your way up to the painting and then you can stand there for a bit and make everyone wish you would move.
I liked the painting after the good Sister explained it - it's a painting of Valezquez (I think) painting a portrait of whichever Spanish king and queen it was while various family members (including the main person in the painting, their small daughter) are also in the room.  You see the artist with brush and palette in hand facing an easel which you see only the back of.  But behind the artist is a mirror on the wall and in that mirror you see a bit of the man and woman he's painting.  Really an original painting for that time period, I think.  I'll post a link to that painting also:

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Meninas

I got there at 10:00 a.m. and counting lunch didn't leave till around 3:00 so I did the best I could and enjoyed it.  But...no pictures allowed, hence this great long bunch of verbiage.

Now I'll have some pictures because I went back up to that church from yesterday after seeing the side of it from inside the museum.  And I walked around to the front where the two steeples rise up.  It was a lovely neighborhood back there - very rich I think and very quiet and peaceful so I took pictures of some of the buildings on of which had a for sale sign in one of the windows in case anyone is looking for a place to live.  I'm just going to post them all in a row:





 Unfortunately for those of you interested in buying, the phone number doesn't show up!

I came down from that neighborhood right to the entrance to the Real (I think that's Spanish for royal) Jardin Botanico and thought oh, why not.  It would be quiet and pretty.  So the rest of the pictures are from there - I always seem to end up with some flora and fauna.  So here we go with those - sorry for the rush but I have to get some sleep tonight - last night was pretty much a lost cause.


 What a riot of bloom for this time of year.

 I loved this tree - it's bottom reminded me of elephant's feet.  The sign below indicates they believe the tree to be 140 to 160 years old - not as old as our redwoods, but a big old tree nevertheless.


And here you can see where those four feet support four different sections of the tree.

 I love the bark on this tree - so very textured.  And below is a branch of that same tree shooting clear across the roundish white planter things you can see and then across the wide walkway.  Looks like it's on some kind of mission!

 Even though it's definitely autumn, the gardens still had some lovely beds.
And here we have Carlos III looking quite pleased with himself or the garden or both,  King Fernando VI started the Royal Botanical Garden on the banks of a river in 1755 (Oct. 17 actually).  But Carlos ordered it to be transferred to its current location at the Paseo del Prado and it reopened there in 1781.  It's a working garden used for research and scientific study and it certainly also provides a very nice respite from the insane traffic whizzing by just outside the fence.

 This is a lovely exhibit hall which I stepped into but didn't stay.  And below is another cat having a good rubdown on the sandy path.

 This was so pretty - a little waterfall and trickling stream with several sort of monolith stones over to the right of the stream.  Reminded me a little of one of the gardens my sister and I visited during a garden tour they had near her.

 And this darned bird - I noticed him and started trying to get pictures but I had to zoom in and with my nervous hands and trying to hold the little cell phone, most of them were way too blurry and even the ones where you can actually see him just don't give an idea of how stunning he was.  He was probably robin or blue jay size and very white and very black.  Beautiful!  And I've never seen one before and have no idea what he might be.  If anyone can recognize him from any of these, please post a comment because I would love to know what I saw.



And while I was waiting around to see if he would appear again, this brilliant green streak flew past me into a tree.  So then I waited to see if he would get down on the ground.  But he never did.  However, he did suddenly fly away again and he was just vivid green - very exotic looking - more like a tropical bird.  He had a long strand of something so must have been building a nest although it seems a strange time of year for that.

And, eureka - the last one!  This is the tree I was waiting for the green bird to hop down to the walkway.

All in all, a really nice day but I was exhausted and treated myself to a little hour or so of letdown when I got back to the hotel.  I then got myself into a little warmer clothes and took my Mac and phone down to Starbucks to get the photos edited.  I checked out the restaurant scene on my walk there and when I finally left there it was around 8:00 or a little after.  I decided to treat myself to a little more upscale dinner where the waiters wouldn't be running past with overflowing beer glasses and had myself a delicious meal.  They called it slow-baked lamb but I don't know...it was so very tender, it was hard to believe it was animal meat - seemed more like duck or something but whatever it was, it was wonderful.  I was sitting next to three young women and an older lady the whole time and they started taking pictures of each other so I asked them if they'd like me to take one of all of them together (something I like to do when I'm traveling).  They were very appreciative and the woman started talking to me.  Turned out she was 65 years old!!  I would have guessed no older than early 40's.  She was the mother of one and the other two were friends with the daughter.  We had quite a nice visit - the mother spoke English fluently and once the girls heard us talking, they decided to be bold and join in.  They weren't as fluent but they certainly could make themselves understood which is more than I can even attempt in Spanish.

And when I got back to the hotel, I asked the guy at the desk (who had seemed kind of unfriendly to me) about a bus to the Royal Palace tomorrow and he said no bus, the metro would be the best way which is what I was afraid he would say.  But he got busy and pulled out maps and such and I think probably I'll be able to do it.  Proves the saying - never judge the book by its cover. :)

And now, midnight again, but tonight I'll take an ibuprofen (blaming my scraped shin) and hopefully that will calm me down.  This blogging seems to get me all worked up - in a nice way.

Buenos noches!

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