Picture of the Week

30 June 2021

Week 24: beach walks, Molí de Xirles, a day in Madrid

Filed under: — Administrator @ 20:50

A rare week during which I left Alicante, even if just for the day. As I also did back in August, I took a morning train to Madrid to spend the day there visiting museums and galleries, and then returned to Alicante on the last train in the evening. Madrid is 440 km from Alicante, but our high speed train covers the distance in about 2:20 hours, and travelling in this way is nice and relaxing. In the first part of the week, there is also a beach walk in the morning, and a lunch at a restaurant in the mountains, a rather popular pastime here on Sunday afternoon.

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I start with a morning walk on our beach. It was early Sunday, so the place was almost deserted:
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The usual leftovers from Saturday night:
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It is a fair bet that this guy is a leftover from Saturday night as well:
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And since young people usually do not get up at 7 a.m. to go the beach, it is safe to assume that they too have spent the night here:
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But there was also more recent activity, that is, people who actually did get up early to go to the beach, whether just to walk:
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…or to exercise:
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…or to get things ready for a busy Sunday:
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On Sunday afternoon we went out for lunch. One particular feature of the restaurant scene around here is that there are many good restaurants in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. Some people go there after a Sunday hike in the forest, others (like us) drive 40-50 km to eat in those places. And so it was this day. We went to a place called Molí de Xirles, a restaurant in a small village several km inland from Benidorm:
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The restaurant is located next to a little stream in a forest:
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This was not my first visit, and I am always amused by this “no shirt, no service” sign:
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The surroundings are nice, and the food is great. We had three appetisers, starting with atún en escabeche:
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Continuing with cruijente de queso de cabra con dátiles:
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Sepia a la plancha:
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My daughter’s main dish, Lenguado (grilled sole):
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And the other main dish, Arroz de señoret (paella with seafood but not in the shell, so less work at the table):
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The rest of the photos are from my day trip to Madrid to look at art.

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I arrived at Madrid’s Atocha station around 11 and made my way to the first museum on my list, the Prado, about 15 minutes walk. The weather was not cooperating, sadly, although since my plans involved mainly indoor activities, the rain was not that big a deal, and fortunately the Paseo de Prado has many trees which helped too:
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Outside the Prado, Velázquez is wet too:
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In the Prado atrium, the plant arrangement bore a striking resemblance to the corona virus:
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The star exhibition at the Prado was called “Pasiones mitológicas” and included works by many of the great masters of the 16th and 17th centuries, with love and sex as the overriding theme, often involving mythological figures. Like here, Venus Listening to Music, painted by Titian in 1550:
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A party by Rubens (1630-35):
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Looking at Cupid:
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Explaining Titian:
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After a couple of hours at the Prado, I walked further up the Paseo del Prado towards Plaza Cibeles, where Madrid’s City Hall is located, and also the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum where I was going to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition. The rain was still falling, and the traffic on the Cibeles roundabout was jammed:
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The façade of the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, celebrating the centenary of the baron:
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The O’Keeffe exhibition was great, and I also got one of the best photos of the day, of a museum guard absorbed in a book about art:
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When I emerged from the museum, it had finally stopped raining. Two young ladies were making a selfie, using an actual tripod:
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The traffic on Plaza Cibeles had also become fluid again, and I noticed a new piece of street art:
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It turned out to be a newly placed memorial to the victims of the COVID pandemic:
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Just a few steps down from there on Paseo Recoletos, there is another monument to a current tragedy, the refugees risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe:
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Since the weather was nice now, I decided to do something outdoors. I took the metro to a neighbourhood called Legazpi to have a look at El Matadero, an old meat processing plant that has been converted to an arts center, not so much a gallery but rather a mix of exhibition spaces, ateliers for artists, but also a few bars and such. The wall already makes clear that there are a lot of things going on here:
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The central passage through the Matadero:
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The interior is suitably dilapidated for that post-industrial look:
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Young people were around, reading or working on their laptops:
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I have no idea why this huge watering machine is here, in the middle of Madrid. But the little one certainly found it interesting:
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Walking around made me thirsty. Thankfully, there was a bar with tables outside where I could enjoy a cold pint and look at the other guests:
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A pigeon was very interested in the peanuts that had been served with my beer. And he was certainly not shy:
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On the way to the metro station, I stopped to photograph the neighbourhood. While not exactly a slum, it was certainly not the high-rent district:
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Anti-pimp stickers indicate that the inhabitants of Legazpi are unhappy with some of the local economic activity (prostitution is legal in Spain, but pimping is not):
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The last stop on my cultural itinerary was the Museo Reina Sofía, the closest one to the Atocha station from where I had a 9 p.m. train back to Alicante. The large square in front of the museum is popular with the locals:
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After feasting my eyes on contemporary Moroccan art at the Reina Sofía, it was time to put some food in my stomach before heading home. For that, I went to El Brillante, a very traditional Madrid bar serving a classic Madrid specialty, bocadillo de calamares. Normally the bar would be thronged with people standing up and drinking right there, but right now only table service is permitted, so El Brillante has come up with a solution that still allows it to use that space:
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Thus fed and watered, I walked across the big roundabout to the train station, snapping this young woman with impressive hair along the way:
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Atocha is a grand train station, always impressive from the outside:
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And also impressive inside:
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The art I saw in Madrid can be enjoyed here.

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