Picture of the Week

9 August 2018

Week 31: a day in Madrid with American and Israeli family

Filed under: — Administrator @ 17:58

The majority of the photos in this weekly blog were taken on a single day, Monday, in Madrid. My uncle Zev from Florida and his wife Alina were finishing a cruise of the Mediterranean with another couple of friends by visiting first Barcelona and then Madrid for a few days before flying back to the US Tuesday. At the same time, my aunt Rachel and my cousin Mirale from Israel came to Madrid for a few days. So on Monday morning I took the early train to Madrid to spend a day with the visitors there, whom I had not seen since our family reunion in France in July 2016.

At the end of the blog, there are a few of the usual cycling photos, and similar local slices of life.

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I arrived in Madrid’s Atocha station at 9:30 a.m. and took the metro to the hotel where my uncle was staying, hitting the Monday morning rush hour:
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On the way out of the metro at the Colón station, I was reminded of why I enjoy visiting Madrid so much–the cultural offerings in this city are just so far above any other city in Spain:
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Plaza de Colón is one of Madrid’s many big squares, containing an art gallery, a huge monument to Columbus and the other 16th century imperialists, and this striking sculpture at the intersection with Calle Génova, called “Woman with mirror” by Fernando Botero:
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I walked to my uncle’s hotel and together, we took the metro to Sol to meet up with Rachel. On the way, I took my first picture of Zev and Alina. They are in their early 80s. Zev is the only remaining member of my family who was born in Lublin in Poland (he was 2 years old when the Germans invaded Poland and survived by fleeing east into the Soviet Union with his older brother, my father, and their parents). He went to medical school in Israel, and has lived in the US since 1973, first in Buffalo and the past 35 years in Florida where he was professor of urological surgery at the University of Florida medical centre; he is now retired and lives in Jacksonville Beach:
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My aunt Rachel is Zev’s younger sister, born during the war when the family was in the Soviet Union. She lives in Israel. We met her at the hotel and I guided my visitors back to the metro to go see some art:
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We went to the Museo Reina Sofía, one of the three major art museums located around the Atocha metro station (the others being the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum):
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The focus of this museum is 20th century art, and the main attraction is Picasso’s Guernica which was returned to Spain in 1981 and has had its home here since 1992. Photographing in that room is forbidden and there is an army of attendants to ensure that the prohibition is respected, so I did not bother. The rest of the museum is OK in that respect. Here, my relatives are discussing something in front of Dalí’s “Millet’s Architectonic Angelus” (1933):
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Unsurprisingly, another painting by Dalí, “Face of the Great Masturbator” from 1929, elicited more interest and discussion:
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A couple of other interesting pieces among the many at the Museo:

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Juan Miró, “Man with a Pipe” (1925):
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Man Ray, “Indestructible Object” (1923-33, one-off copy from 1982):
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After the museum visit, we sat down for lunch at a nearby restaurant. While there, my cousin Mirale (Rachel’s daughter) who had been out and about on her own, noticed us while having coffee at a nearby Starbucks and came running towards us. It was nice to see her again. We are almost exactly the same age and first met when I visited Israel for the first time as a 14-year old:
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After lunch, we walked to the Retiro park, passing the book market on Cuesta de Moyano along the way. It was too hot for serious outdoor shopping, so there were not many buyers or sellers:
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Back in the metro. A young man walking past a poster advertising the area’s art pleasures, at first ignoring it:
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But then something catches his interest:
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Rachel and Mirale were flying back to Tel Aviv that evening, so we accompanied them to their hotel where they had left their suitcases, said goodbye and made our way back to Zev and Alina’s hotel. Along the way, I photographed one of the many ornate buildings in this part of Madrid:
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Back at the hotel, we met up with Zev and Alina’s friends, the man is a retired doctor like Zev, while his wife is a professor emeritus at the Mount Sinai school of medicine. We sat down for a pleasant chat and a glass of wine/beer:
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I took one last portrait, and then made my way back to Atocha station and the high-speed train to Alicante. Except that the train turned out to be not so high-speed, taking 3 hours to reach Alicante instead of the normal 2:15 due to some technical problem. Still faster than driving:
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The late arrival was not a big deal since I did not have to go to work Tuesday morning. This week marked the beginning of my summer vacation, and I spent the rest of the time packing up my books (we are in process of moving to another house, 4 km away) and of course cycling every day. The town of Busot is 21 km away from where I live, and at 370 meters above sea level (I live at sea level) a decent climb, especially in this hot weather. And getting there is pretty:
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About two km past Busot there is a turn to the right, towards a cave complex called Cuevas de Canelobre. The distance from that turn to the cave entrance is 3 km, but it is a steep and unforgiving 3 km. Recently, the local authorities have set up these markers for cyclists, which one can interpret as a threat or a promise. While cycling up that last km, I thought of a scene from the recent Tour de France; somebody had written “Gravity Sucks” on the tarmac on one of the mountains. At that moment, I totally related to that:
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In any event, I made it to the cave entrance and sat down for a Coke Zero at the small cafeteria. While drinking it, I looked at the people looking at the landscape from the observation platform:
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And it is a nice view of the Alicante coastal plain, indeed:
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The ticket window to get into the caves, and the owner of the place:
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One afternoon I stopped by the pet memorial tree in the dog park:
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Taco’s ribbon still looks good but Cheeta’s has faded completely; I must replace it:
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As is my habit, I sat on the bench a bit, thinking of my departed furry friends, and then walked back to my car, photographing these backlit leaves along the way:
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In the evening my wife and I went to the new house to take some more boxes there and to look at the progress of the remodeling (we are moving at the end of August). My wife showed me one of the figs from a tree in our garden. The birds help themselves to the fresh figs, and I do not blame them–they are delicious:
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And the fig leaves have a funny shape–not wonder they are associated with modesty and covering up:
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