Fiesta Nacional and penultimate thoughts

Authored By Brian

Today is Spain’s Day of Independence so most everything is closed and everyone has the day off. I woke up “early” this morning at 10 and showered so I could go out and catch the parade on Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado. These people are pretty serious about their nationalism; running down main street Madrid are a variety of armored personnel carriers, tanks and amphibious vehicles. Flying overhead is a smorgasbord of aircraft ranging from large cargo planes to helicopters to something that looks like a MIG jet. The parade, or desfile, starts with a tight formation of jets flying overhead spraying out yellow and red smoke to symbolize the flag of Spain. The king and the president attend and they have a special viewing box situated at Plaza de Colon about a block from my apartment. Initially I thought my apartment was “out of the way” but it turns out to be smack dab in the middle of it. It’s on a quiet street but is immediately adjacent to just about everything (except for that pesky 10 minute walk to the metro).

Although I wanted to see the parade, I have seen it before. My first time to Madrid in 2002, I arrived at 8am on the 12th of October after selling vFive to IconMedialab and taking a couple of weeks vacation. Gabriela picked me up from the airport and we came downtown to watch the parade and walk around. I was in a bit of a daze; the flight to Europe is a brutal unsleepable affair that leaves early one morning and arrives early the next. Chances for rest are rare until the next day when you finally stumble home at five in the morning after partying all night.

On Spain’s Independence Day, entrance to all museums is free of charge

The real plan this morning was to take advantage of the government’s generosity and take a quick round of the free entrance to museums today. I haven’t been to the Reina Sofia so I hiked down to Atocha to take a look. Unfortunately, the museum is closed Tuesdays and the fact that this was a national holiday wasn’t going to change that. I turned around and went to the Prado instead which I have seen before but changes frequently. It’s a warehouse of Goya and Velasquez with a wonderful collection of large-scale paintings and sculptures by other non-Spanish artists including Raphael. The Prado covers roughly from 1300 to 1850 and divides its work up by floor. A couple of my personal favorites from today:

• A large sculpted table topped with a large eagle. It’s in the middle of a small circular room at the south-western end of the building surrounded by other sculptures. What I liked about it was the depth and length of the feathers on the eagle. I’m fascinated by carving such detail from a single block of stone.
• A scene of the Virgin Mary in the Spanish painting rooms on the north-eastern end of the building. What I found interesting about this piece was the floor in the painting is a checkerboard of pink and green that creates a 3D effect in the painting unlike most other renaissance work. The colors in the floor are fairly strong and it drew my eye from across the room instead of the lighting which typically favors the protagonist in the work.
• I’m not a big fan of Thomas Kincade but his “painting with light” must have surely found inspiration from a wide-format scene upstairs in the middle of the eastern side of the building. Depending on where I stood, the characters seemed to leap off of the canvas with a depth that was uncanny. It looked like some of them actually protruded from the canvas. Quite the opposite of the 3D flooring.

I tire of museums quite quickly however so after an hour or so I headed out to buy a couple of gifts for friends and head back. It’s almost 2 so it’s about time for lunch. I’m going to try to finish a little bit of my remaining food and then finish packing. Today is my last day here and I’m planning to have dinner with Gabriela and maybe I will stop by to see Mariela also. The weather is crisp outside but beautiful and it’s sad that I won’t be here any longer. At the same time, I’m very excited to go back but I hope the “normality” of the states won’t lure me into a boring routine.

Mentally I have adopted that I need to be more proactive about exploring the great country that I live in, wherever that may be, and that it’s an ongoing journey rather than something you do while on “vacation”. Everytime I think I’ve seen San Francisco and know it well, I remind myself that I still haven’t been to Alcatraz. I also want to spend more time with my friends who are always too busy and we don’t seem to see enough of each other. I will need to put this into practice though and finding time is often difficult.

The first few months back in the states I am going to spend unemployed, rather, on a contract basis. I’m deciding now to use my flexible schedule to do things like see Alcatraz, visit my grandparents, take motorcycle rides in the morning, and generally enjoy life before I get bogged down with a job and racing and whatever else.

Life is speeding by, I’m hoping I’m at least getting a few good pictures of it. :)

Por ahora, hasta luego Espana… no, hasta pronto Espana!

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