Friday, April 6, 2007

madrid--day 2

March 17, 2007
My dreams were intricate and realistic--being introduced repeatedly to someone with same name as our waitress at the flamenco restaurant--interrupted several times throughout the night by incredibly loud sirens four stories down on Gran Via.
In the morning, or what I thought was the morning but was actually afternoon, my mom woke my dad and I up, informing us that it was after 12:00. I sat up, startled. With no alarm clock and electric window shades that make it impossible to determine whether it's anything but the middle of the night, I assumed that we were still within the normal sleeping hours. Good ol' jet lag, it'll get you every time.

We didn't leave the hotel room until after 1:00. Our first stop, Zara, a popular Spanish clothing store that sells cheap designer trend knock-offs. Now, I am not a shopper, nor did I feel like I came all the way to Europe to shop, but at the same time, I haven't--in fashion-conscious people's terms--"updated my wardrobe" in quite awhile. I'm not naming years here because I honestly couldn't tell you how long it's been. . My sister huffed and puffed her way out of los probadores to send in my mom after I requested a second opinion. One shirt--zero votes. Other shirt--one (mom) vote. (Votes only received from mom and waited outside, but when I later, in the hotel room tried them on for him, his response was as follows: "Well they're not my favorite clothes you own...")Regardless, I bought them both. Correction, my mom bought them both for me. She's been insisting I get new clothes for years, and was so excited that I found something, that she also insisted on paying for it.

Sheri met us at Zara, and from there we headed to her place, stopping first for lunch at a little side-street restaurant called La Tortilla de Mamá, which was true to its name. Ever since I lived with Maria Luisa, I've bragged about how her tortilla was the best in all of Madrid...and I had my fair share of tortilla, seeing as I avoided all things jámon or del mar. But this place was comparable--still not quite up to Maria's standards--but definitely a notch above anywhere else I tried the dish outside of Maria's kitchen. In fact, the whole menu consisted of different kinds of tortillas. My mom and I shared one with cheese and tomato sauce, while my dad and sister shared one with chorizo. My dad marveled at how expensive a miniature bottle of Coke cost. Over 2 Euros for about 30cL.

After my parents had a tour of Sheri's host family's apartment, we decided to go to the Reina Sofia art museum, which is free on Saturdays. When we got out of the Metro at the Atocha stop, we saw a huge crowd of people taking over a main intersection. It was some sort of peace demonstration. A bunch of people had "PAZ" signs rubberbanded to their foreheads. There was a stage set up, with speakers on either side blasting the sorrowful song, "Mad World" (in English). The stage itself had a handful of photographers taking pictures of the crowd. Seeing the signs posted at bus stops about ending the war in Iraq and posters on sticking poking out of garbage cans that read, "U$A GO HOME" made me consider becoming an ex-patriot.

I'm glad I got to go back to the Reina Sofia, even if we only had an hour and a half to explore before the establishment closed. That place was one of my three favorite art museums I visited while living in Europe--the other two being the Tate Modern in London and the Musée D'Orsay in Paris. The Reina Sofia is famous for housing Picasso's Guernica, a painting found in every Spanish textbook back in the States. My dad approached me as we milled around the masterpiece, "I'll ask you this, since you're the most artistic in the family...How does someone come up with something like this?" I regurgitated the little bit of history I could remember about the destruction of a town in northern Spain by the same name. "I understand that. But how does he [Picasso] decide to paint people looking like that?" I looked over at the balloon-headed, yelping people portrayed in the painting. The only person who could really answer that question is Picasso himself. "It's just how he sees them in his mind," was all I could muster up.
In the temporary exhibition, "First Generation: Art and the Moving Image, 1963-1986," each room had various T.V. installations by several different artists. One room had a bunch of T.V.'s atop pillars, with black & white videos of transportation scenes around New York City filmed in the early 1970's. The installation was called Manhattan As An Island (1974) by Ira Schneider. A few of the videos revolved around the World Trade Center (as viewed from a boat), which at the time, must have been a brand-new, revolutionary addition to the city. I stood and stared at them for a few minutes. I saw those fall, I thought. I am standing in a building right across the street from where Al Qaeda blew up in 2004 the trains at Atocha, while standing here watching 30-some-year-old footage of the towers the same terrorist group demolished in 2001. And I have such strong ties to both cities.
You can read more about the exhibit here.

[reina sofia elevator shaft]

Unfortunately, we only saw a very small portion of the museum before we got ushered out by the museum staff 15 minutes before closing time. I suggested getting dinner at Isla Del Tesoro, a vegetarian restaurant near where I used to live. The hostess told us that unless we had a reservation, we couldn't get a table. So we went next door to some Asian place, where I couldn't really find anything on the menu that I wanted...this being after I attempted to order the vegetable dumplings only to find out they didn't have anymore. I had some sort of mixed vegetable plate instead, but it was of appetizer proportions and not nearly enough to fill me up.
So being the stereotypical fat American, I requested we stop at McDonald's before retreating back to the hotel. All three of us (we parted ways with Sheri underground at the Bilboa station) got chococlate fudge sundaes, and on top of that I also ordered a large patatas deluxe (like potato wedges), something I used to munch on because they're surprisingly tasty and only cost a Euro. Despite being the fast food instigator, I still felt embarrassed as we walked the block back to the hotel holding a McD's bag chock full of junk. I scarfed both foods down and went to sleep not just acting like a fat American, but feeling like one too.

[all of our sundaes]

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