Sunday, September 8th

Amazingly, got back to sleep, twice, after Rex and Anthony had their lovers' spats during the night. First time at about 12, the next round 4. Rex is banging on the doors, "Anthony, I have to speak to you!", in a loud Oxford voice. Anthony is not responding. He's probably in his room, deeply pouting. The banging gets louder and louder. Then loud voices. Is this the behaviour of the English Poofter out of his natural environment?

Second Metro, changed at Gran Via for Atocha, for the Prado, eventually.

And I'm writing this entry into my diary with the Museo del Prado pen I just bought. These words just scream "ART". My other words have just whispered "bic".

But saw the Goyas, but somehow managed to miss "Saturn Devouring His Children", then the Velasquez, the Durer self-portrait with the big hair, more crucifixions, the Bosch Room. Garden of Earthly Delights, the Victory of Death, others. The 'Sala Reservada', a room full of nudes, Maya Clothed and Unclothed, what a tart. Atalanta in the race, Lot and his two daughters, the painting of the woman who looked kind of embarrassed at having her tits out, the Judgement of Paris.

Velazquez, Cristo Crucifado, easily one of the best things here.

More, rooms of Portraits, and walking four times passed the painting of the grotesquely fat child, maybe her parents thought the bigger the better. Then the Velazquez biggie, the one that includes himself on the left, the mirror reflecting something that's not in the painting, the bulldog-like maid, and the little girl kicking the dog. Not sure why this painting is so highly regarded, to me it's mess, still, it features prominently in the Prado souvenir extravaganza. Hell, you can even get it as a jigsaw puzzle.
Then Hermes and Haephestos, and a Room of Still Lifes, the Room of Goya's paintings of the same group of people, partying, drinking, dancing, playing cards, smoking dope.
Eventually out. To the El Botanica restaurant. Down a street with beautiful apartment buildings, the Calle de Espalter.

Still here, the Calle de Espalter, and Chris is painting. Attracting the attention of everybody who walks by. You'd think that maybe, with three galleries of world importance in the same block, they'd be all arted-out, but no, there's always room to appreciate one more. In fact, I think that some of these people have spent more time trying to get a glimpse of what Chris is doing than they probably spent in front of whatever exhibits they saw in whatever Gallery they've emerged from.

The typical reaction is first, see someone painting; second, try to get a glimpse of the work in progress, then finally, look to see what the painting is actually of.

I kind of do the same when I see anybody photographing anything, but without the second step.

Thyssen Museum, and there's enormous queues for everything. Queues to enter, hours worth, queues for the Dali 'Gravida' exhibition, other queues for some kind of Sisley retrospective. Somehow there's tickets to be bought, more queues. Shuffling forward, hoping we're in the right queue. Chris abandoning the queue for the Dali stuff, but not me. The Gravida stuff, the Invisible Man, Paul y Gala in position, another of a man with an armpit fetish. Chris appears "I've got the tickets!" She queue-jumped. Bejaysus, stand between Chris and a Lucien Freud painting and you're a dead man.

Ground Floor, more Picasso's, Braque, Chagall, Kandinsky. Then Delvaux and his dreaming women, and damn, the Magrittes are out on loan, but we do have Hopper's 'Hotel Room', no, two Hoppers actually, 'Girl at a Sewing Machine'. Then some New Realist stuff, why they just don't get a camera is beyond me, a Lichenstein, and some Pop Art, and finally, the Lucien Freud. It's the "Portrait of Baron HH Thyssen-Bornemizza', okay, the patron of this Gallery. I'm suspecting that this was a cheap way of getting wall space here.

First floor, same place. To the Impressionists. Pissaro, Monet and Manet, then Renoir's 'Woman with Parasol in a Garden', Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh, naturally. Looking for the thickness in the paintings, almost proves it's the real thing and not just a poster. And over there's a Edvard Munch 'Geese in an Orchard', and Kirchner, the old Abstract Expressionist after my own heart.

And it just suddenly dawned on me that, despite having walked 1245kms of the Camino in two months, my legs have never felt so bad as they do now. The endless standing still, in queues, in front of paintings, the stop/start moving is slowly killing me. The knees ache.

Botanic Gardens. Nice enough, seen better.

A bar. The Cafe Lucrano. A cafe solo por moi, et le vin rouge por Chris. Just sitting, giving my buggered knees a chance to recuperate. Vaguely hoping that this could be the beginning of a pub crawl. It's a nice enough place, more restaurant than bar. Paella. Photographs of what your meal might look like behind the bar. So, you could order your Gamba, or Pulpo Gallega, or Molleja, or Pincho Bonto in complete confidence in what you might get. At least, it should look the same, whether or not it actually tastes liked you hoped it would is maybe another story entirely.

On the other side of the intersection, are the small booksheds, all grey, second hand mostly, crowds gathering. Some young things with their mobile phones all trying to be cooler than everybody else; people in a hurry, some others not. Older, well-dressed couples on their way to somewhere; couples, kissy-kissy, one has flowers.

Sat for a while in the Plaza Major, after walking the length of Calle de Atoche, trying to avoid being hassled by waiters touting for business. Looking up at the rooves that surround the Square. Someone is sitting in the open balcony of one; while another's bicycle is leaning against the roof's guardrail; and there's someone else's washing line, while another somebody has arranged flower pots.
Then to the Peunte del Sol.

Chris is painting the Tio Pepe sign, while the parade of people just goes on. It never really stops around here.

Upstairs at Pans. Eventually we'll walk back through the Plaza Major, and down to the hotel, whatever that streets called. Through La Latina at night-time. This could be interesting, the Eyewitness Guide to Spain calls it the petty crime capital of Madrid. I'm imagining purse-snatches, winos, and working girls.

Been trying to figure out how Spanish guys do the pistachio trick. Split it, and spit it in one smooth movement, and they end up standing in a pile of shells in no time. I just end up swallowing pistachio shells.