Friday: Arles

We began to explore the city today, and with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50s, it was a very good day to walk around.

We found a coffee shop near where we are staying and as luck would have it, croissants had just come out of the oven. One of those, plus cappuccino, was the perfect start to Friday.

We walked to Museum Reattu, with art from the 1700s to present day. It had quite a few Picasso sketches and two of his paintings. Most of the more contemporary art was not my favorite: a circle cut in half, an overexposed man’s face, colored rectangles hanging from the ceiling like a middle school art room. But the museum is housed in a very old convent and the building was a treat to walk around.

Next we went to the old Roman amphitheater – actually the ruins of the theater. It is still used for bullfights in April and May, and since it is still generally in its original condition, it was a wonder to see. There were some feral cats sleeping on the stone bleachers, one was walking around and as big as a fox. So I didn’t walk around the entire amphitheater.

photos: a perfect start to the day; gathered paper with glue = not my idea of art; the ancient amphitheater

Thursday: Gyor, Hungary

We woke up to the coldest weather so far on our trip: 32°. By 9am it was not much warmer but then the sun came out and it was a beautiful day to walk around Gyor.

We went to the Janos Xantus museum in town and enjoyed looking at movie posters, contemporary metal sculptures, and photos from the last 100 years of Hungary’s history.

We walked from the older area of the city over the bridge to the busier part of Gyor where cars and trucks have normal road access they don’t have in the promenade area. It was not as nice as the old part, but still fun to see rhe Rabca river which runs through the city and is a big rowing river. There was no action on it today.

Back across the bridge again, we walked by workers putting up holiday decorations and we went into a 12th century cathedral that was decorated unlike any I have seen. The artwork, wood working, and decor were fantastic.

I had read about a part of a tree in the city that 300 years ago every craftsman/tradesman in the area had pounded a nail into for good luck. It was there, unprotected, easy to miss but very cool to see.

We went on the town’s giant ferris wheel this evening to get a bird’s eye view of the area.

Gyor is a delightful town.

photos: Gyor’s ferris wheel; when you walk past an open restaurant window; it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Monday, March 16: last day in Madrid

Today we went to the Prado, the main national art museum in Spain. They are featuring a Goya in Madrid temporary exhibit, but the classic (Goya and Velasquez) masterpieces were what we wanted to see. There are over a thousand pieces of art on display (out of a collection of about 7,500) at any given time, and the building is (of course) huge.

As soon as we got there, a tour guide approached us and asked whether we wanted her to show us around. I was apprehensive but the price was right so Ana escorted us through the museum.

What a wealth of very interesting information she shared! There is no way to take in everything in the hours we planned to be there, but Ana showed us the highlights, or the must-see works. She had details and trivia about each one and I found it all fascinating. I left there thinking I may take an art history course, and that I want to learn more about the Spanish royal family. Some of them were characters and I haven’t read any Spanish history in decades.

Next we went to the barrio de La Latina – the Latin neighborhood of Madrid. It has narrow streets, old shops and restaurants, and is buzzing with people and action. (There’s a picture below of a street performer who looked like a gold statue. He was just sitting in front of a chess board. It was only after a few minutes that he stared out and revealed the whites of his eyes. He drew quite a crowd and I wondered how many hours he sat there motionless.)

We had lunch at a little Latin cafe and did a some shopping (to include the peach-colored sweater pictured) then headed back to the center of the city. Dinner was light: some tapas (small plates to share) and a bottle of wine at a restaurant near our hotel.

Tomorrow we pick up a car and drive toward Lisbon. We won’t make it there in one day, but I’m not sure where we’ll stop. I’ve really enjoyed Madrid!


After dinner tonight

After dinner tonight

Cafe con leche is why I'm awake right now, at one a.m.

Cafe con leche is why I’m awake right now, at one a.m.

A very-believable street performer posing as a statue.

A very-believable street performer posing as a statue.