Prowling my world, camera in hand

31 July 2023

Week 28: a day in Madrid

Filed under: — Administrator @ 19:20

Eighteen of the 23 photos in this weekly blog were taken on a single day, Friday 14 July. I had to go to Madrid to visit the Polish consulate there to renew my passport, so I took advantage of the occasion and made it into a day trip to visit several exhibitions that were part of the large PhotoEspaña 2023 festival. I have earlier created a dedicated gallery, but as usual I kept some photos for the PAW.

I was taking a train leaving Alicante’s main station at 7:20, so I took the tram to the city before sunrise. While waiting, I took a couple of pre-dawn photos. I am not sure if this man was waiting for a tram or just enjoying the view:

Here is a fellow passenger:

Around 9:45 I emerged from the Chamartín train station in Madrid. These four buildings are visible from the motorway as one approaches the city, from quite a far distance. I had never seen them up close, because until recently the trains from Alicante arrived at another station, Atocha:

Using the excellent Madrid metro, I made my way to Plaza Colón to see the first exhibition of the day. Afterwards I walked to the nearby Polish consulate for my 11:15 appointment, passing the huge monument to Spanish imperialism on the square (the official name is “Monumento al Descubrimiento de América”):

After my business at the consulate was done, I walked down Paseo Recoletos towards my second exhibition of the day, at Fundación Mapfre. I had made an itinerary to allow me to visit as many exhibitions as I could manage before getting on the train back to Alicante in the evening. But one should always leave time for the unexpected. As I was passing this ornate entrance to the National Library, I saw a sign that sparked my interest:

Inside there was an exhibition about Spanish exiles in Puerto Rico during and after the Civil War. Since the island is dear to my heart, I went in to have a look and learned that a substantial number of Spanish intellectuals, including the later Nobel laurate Juan Ramón Jiménez, fled the Franco regime to Puerto Rico (some returned to Spain after Franco’s death, some died on the island):


A bit further down Recoletos, near Madrid’s city hall on Cibeles, there is a place called Casa de las Américas, a cultural centre representing principally Latin American but also North American culture. The garden is named after Gabriel García Márquez, and I noticed something different, a work of art by Felipe Jácome and Svetlana Onipko, a Ukrainian dancer. It is printed using a special technique on 9000 Russian artillery shells:

My next stop was the Círculo de Bellas Artes where I saw an exhibition by French artist ORLAN, a revelation on many levels. I love the building itself, it is always a treat to walk up these stairs:

An example of the works by ORLAN, combining photography with other art forms:

Another attraction of the Círculo de Bellas Artes is the excellent restaurant, where a great lunch costs 16.50 Euro and the restaurant itself is a feast for the eyes. Here, a little boy is on a journey of discovery:

The bar is impressive too:

I walked on. It was getting seriously hot, in the high 30s (high 90s in US money). I noticed this elegant lady; there are different ways to beat the heat:

The last exhibition I went to see was at a cultural centre housed in what used to be a brewery belonging to the company Águila (“eagle”):


The exhibition of photographs of Madrid by French photographer Bernard Plossu was what I went to see. I must admit that it was the only disappointment of the day (also considering that it was a bit of a trek to get there). I found most of the photographs poorly composed and devoid of emotional content, a case of emperor’s new clothes:

To make matters worse, Águila is about 1 km from the Delicias metro station, a walk in 5 p.m. sunshine that gave me a headache. Near the station I photographed this scene. The flare is a good illustration of the relentless sunshine, and the woman is probably less interested in the advert than in the shade it provides:

I made my way back to Chamartín, had a beer at a nice bar there, and boarded the train back to Alicante. Inside the station there is a nice light display:

Back in Alicante, I went cycling on Saturday morning, stopping to check on the cats in Verdegás, all of which were looking for shade:

I continued to Agost, where I took the usual break on the square. A women came to the butcher shop, tied her dog outside and went in. The dog was very interested in the shop (and presumably the smells emanating from it):


There was the occasional distraction:

But then it was back to business:

Having enjoyed this little bit of small-town entertainment, I got on the bike and rode home.

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