Nov 182009

For last day in Europe took a day trip out to Monesterio San Lorenzao El Escurial a royal residence/monestery about 55 min by bus from Madrid (scenic route). It was built in the 15 hundreds and is huge impressive building chock full of art purchased for the building by spanish royalty, mostly on religious themes but also portraits and flemmish still lives. El Grecos, Titian, Veronese, Brueghel, by the bushelful, and an informative audio guide.
Again my morning expedition lasted all day.
Captivted unepectedly by three rooms.
The first was a room lined with small maps of the world as known in the 2nd half of the 16th century. There on the 1570 map of Africa was Agadez, the Zaire River and the river ‘Coyla’ – Kwilu perhaps? And the kingdom of Manicongo. Bruges and Theilt were in the flemmish map, Sternberg near where the Hennigs came from. Lac Leman and Geneva. I looked at every blasted one – you could get so close! It took quite a while.
2 was a huge fresco of the battle in Grenada where the moors were defeated. The pastelish colors were amazing, and the details! The woman out side the city watching the battle. In one corner the water mill with its wheel and diverted mill stream. The armies, moors flying crecented flags. Details of the contraption to tighten the strings on the crossbows. I wished I could photograph small sections but it was a no photo area. A companionish piece to this was some huge canvases of sea battles I would not have wanted to be in.
3 The library! Something like 40,000 volumes, including books (with single pages open displaying caligraphy and illuminations of playing chess, biblical scenes and more) in persian, arabic, greek, latin, hebrew in a an amazing room. All of this in a fantastic hall. Trilogy of great ‘bookstores’ this year – here, oporto and ojai. Range of attitudes towards books and their place in life.
Much satisfied I took the tour of the pretty little town on the edge of the monesterio (originally founded to house the workers to build and maintain the palace/monesterio, and sat outside (it was that warm) for an early (for Spain) last dinner. Joined by Mike, who I had met in the building who lives in Oceanside. First long talk with a natve speaker of English since I last saw Brian and Lauren in Léon. Can that be true?
Spent the evening repacking my (Isabell’s) backpack for tommorrow’s return to the US. What a strange thought.

 Posted by at 1:28 am

  One Response to “In Transit – Madrid 17 Nov”

  1. Hello!
    I was happy to see you in passing last week. Martha and I read parts of your entries out loud to each other in late October/early November after Corey gave me a link to your blog. I am going to go back and read the entries that we didn’t read in the fall.
    Your trip is inspiring to me in many ways. I am hoping to take a two month leave from work in August and September to travel around the Northwest,hike and take pictures.
    I always think of your grandmother whenever I try something new that I have never done before. I lost the link to her on line story and would be happy to have it again so that I could read more about her life.
    It would be good to have you over for dinner sometime to hear more about your trip. Take care,

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