I arrived in Madrid yesterday and checked into the same hostal I had used before. I had returned to Madrid to catch a flight today to Rome (where I have arrived safe and sound, but that will be the subject of another posting). It was around 5:30pm by the time I got settled in Madrid, which left the big question: what to do now? I wanted to take it easy, and there wasn t much in the city that I felt that I had skipped on my previous visit. I checked my guidebook and saw that the Prado closed at 7:00, which would give me a little over an hour by the time I got there. Hmmmm. I decided it would be worth going, even for an hour, just to look at some of those paintings again. Plus I wanted to insure that my sister Julie and my friend Bob really hate me.
While there, a group dressed as people from some of Velasquez' paintings paraded by. This means they were dressed like early 17th century royalty. Not only dressed, but playing the parts to the hilt. The young girl, who led the procession was wearing one of those dresses that goes out about a mile from each hip, caught my eye and gave me a royal head nod. I nodded back, and later regretted that I didn't have the presence of mind to bow. She was followed by a Philip IV, who was jolly with his group, but gave me, the commoner, a haughty nod. I returned with a respectful nod.
Then they were gone, having quickly ascended the nearby steps. The only other person who had seen them in the hallway was a security guard who disappeared before I had a chance to ask her what the hell that was about.
The Prado was much less crowded late in the day. At one point, I had Goya's black paintings all to myself. It was a few minutes before anyone else entered the room. You could spend time with the paintings without being subconsciously hurried along by other patrons. I got to study Bosch's work some more. The miserable security guard, who had yelled at me on a previous visit for using a videocamera, was there. And she was asleep in her chair! I desperately wanted to take a picture of her napping, then send it to the Prado and get her fired. But I decided that Art brought out my better nature, so I passed on the opportunity.
Best of all, when I got to the Prado, I discovered (from a friendly security guard) that their hours had changed. The museum closes at 8:00pm, not 7:00.
I will write more about the work in the museum, particularly the stuff that I hadn't heard of that took my by surprise. More to come...