Sunday, November 05, 2006

Drama, in the best sense possible

Madrid was incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect upon arrival, but nothing disappointed me, especially my beautiful friend.
Spanish culture seems to me to be incredibly expressive, decorative and dramatic; first with the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums and their outstanding collections including El Greco, Picasso, Miro, Dali and Goya paintings. I have been aching to see these pieces since I began studying art, and it was a dream to finally be in front of them. They were more powerful than I was expecting, especially Guernica and the Goya paintings. The black backgrounds of so many of the paintings I saw highlighted the stark figures and created and theatricality uniquely Spanish.

Second, the flamenco show with rhythmic clapping and foot stamping, heartfelt singing and dancing, and incredibly fast guitar playing made for an intense night. I would love to take a class just to learn how to make my wrists, and the swishing of my skirt, convey so much emotion. Third, to the insane nightlife that is Madrid; where staying out dancing until 6am is just another fun night, and the old women on the metro (who, by the way, aren’t sleeping either) don’t look down on you at all. All of this, plus the delicious paella and sangria, and the highly decorated buildings that lavish every plaza, sum up one of the best cities I’ve ever visited.

There were things that I didn’t expect from Madrid, like how urban it is; very much like NYC, with dirt, beggars and traffic. It can be dangerous, although thankfully I didn’t actually experience this. But I did gain first hand knowledge of the strong machismo alive in Spain. It’s hard to go through a day without being called “guapa” by strange men whose intentions are unknown. I didn’t think that the meal times would be so different; but eating lunch at 2 or 3 pm, then taking a siesta until 5 pm really does make a difference when your dinner is pushed back until 10 pm. I also wasn’t expecting to be able to understand as much Spanish as I did. I was often confused about what was being said by Annie’s host family or by other people around me, but I could pick out words and phrases, and was even able to get out a few simple sentences.

Our last full day was also amazing. We went to Segovia, a small town outside of Madrid with an ancient roman aqueduct and an immensely decorated church with at least 15 side chapels filled with paintings and statues. It was impressive how stable and strong the concrete arches were after so long. And the decoration of the church was very different from those I’ve seen in France, with fewer stained glass windows and ten times more gold leaf.

I would love to go back to Spain, and see Sevilla and other cities, and more of the country. It’s so different from France, which I love. It has such a deep and complicated history that I want to learn more about. It has churros and chocolate. And it doesn’t give me homework.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're having a good time. Makes me jealous, I've never been to Spain.
And things that don't give you homework rock.


9:21 PM  

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