MADRID: ART, SOCCER, DANCE & MUSIC

IMG_4367

MADRID: ART (DEL PRADO), SOCCER (MADNESS) & MUSIC (LISZT) – THREE HIGHLIGHTS OF SPANISH CAPITAL

We felt as if we have been circling around the Spanish capital like an eagle slowly spiraling down to its prey. Not that we intended Madrid any harm. More like savoring its delicious flavor.

This circling continued the morning of May 24. Unwittingly. Spain 2014 map Madrid lay less than 30 miles southeast of El Escorial where we started our May 24 day.  Yet we took over an hour to get there.  Our map of Spain did not have a city map for Madrid. So we kept guessing which exit to take from the freeway.  And we kept being wrong.

Eventually, we entered Madrid from the east even though El Escorial, our starting point, was to the northwest. 🙂

IMG_3596 IMG_3597 IMG_3595

Since we did enjoy our “NH” (hotel chain) El Escorial hotel, we decided to do the same in Madrid. So we booked Paseo Del Prado hotel, right next to the famous museum we were hoping to visit.

IMG_3601 IMG_3617 IMG_3602

In fact, while planning this trip back in February, the only thing we had intended to do in Madrid is go to Del Prado.

When I was in the Spanish capital the last time (in 2007), I was really bummed out that the museum was closed for renovation. And Elizabeth had never been to Spain before. So we were both looking forward to Del Prado, a virgin visit for both of us.

Then about a month or so before we left on this trip, I read somewhere in the news that on May 24 the European soccer club championship final will take place. And that both teams playing for the title of the best club in Europe are from Madrid – Real vs. Atletico.

So I decided to look up on our itinerary where we were supposed to be on May 24.  Turns out – Madrid! Can you believe it?

When I told Elizabeth about it, she could not believe it, either. And neither could my chiropractor-friend in Scottsdale who is a former professional soccer player.

The first question he asked me when he heard we were going to Europe in May was, “where will you be on May 24?” 🙂

THE ART

IMG_3598 IMG_3600 IMG_3599

Anyway, so here we were in the Spanish capital, primed for Del Prado and its art treasures, when all around us madding soccer crowds were already starting to form. The above pictures were taken during a short walk from our hotel to Del Prado. IMG_3603

That’s where we also witnessed this interesting concept – a bike-bus in which all passengers are also drivers. They pedal together. 🙂

IMG_3604 IMG_3608

Once inside the museum, we were immediately struck by a multitude of Phillip II paintings and portraits.

IMG_3610 IMG_3606 IMG_3609 IMG_3605 IMG_3611 IMG_3612

Even though taking pictures was not allowed inside the museum, I figured I’d give myself permission to do so. After all, the museum never asked for my permission to hang those paintings. 🙂

Nor of Elizabeth.  The world’s most famous portrait of Queen Mary I,
Maria_Tudor1
when she was married to Phillip II, now hangs on a Del Prado wall (seated – left).

This portrait was made by Antonius Mor after Mary’s July 1554 marriage to Philip II of Spain. mary1allegoryThe queen wears a wedding ring and a jewel given to her by Philip in June of that year. Mor accompanied Philip to England and his talent impressed the English nobility.  Mary was 38 years old when this portrait was done. She died four years later (in 1558).

The painting on the right is a detail from the only painting of Phillip and Mary together. The larger painting of which this scene is a part hangs at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England.

THE WALK

IMG_3616 IMG_3615 IMG_3614 IMG_3632Madrid_Panorama1 IMG_3628  IMG_3619 IMG_3620 IMG_3618 Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.57.12 AM

We spent about 2-3 hours at Del Prado before taking a walk along the city streets. Our general direction was Plaza Mayor, the center of Madrid.

THE SOCCER

Even though the Real-Atletico game was more than four hours away, the streets were teeming with fans. They wore their team’s colorful shirt and/or shawls. Some were already into drink and song and dance.

IMG_3636 Casa Americas

Both Plaza Mayor (left) and Casa de America Plaza (right), another big Madrid square, were also decked out in team colors and various memorabilia. At the latter plaza there was also a big screen being set up, presumably for a public broadcast of the game this evening.

IMG_3633 IMG_3642 IMG_3648  Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 8.00.02 PM IMG_4370 Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 7.59.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 7.57.52 PM IMG_4369 IMG_3647 

It was very easy to get caught up in this soccer madness. Elizabeth has never experienced anything like it. I have not either, on this scale (Madrid is Europe’s third largest city – after London and Berlin), though I have seen soccer fever at other venues and times.

Perhaps you will get a better sense for it from the video at the end of this story.

IMG_3630 IMG_3631 IMG_3629 Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.57.12 AM

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and I felt we needed a break. So we sat down at one of the bistros near Plaza Mayor on Calle de Alcala (see the map), and ordered some delicious treats. Later, Elizabeth was to say that this was one of her fondest memories of our special day in Madrid.

IMG_3638 IMG_4367 Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 8.02.35 PM

Once we got to Plaza Mayor, a group of mostly Real Madrid fans saw me making a video. Suddenly, they surrounded me and seem to adopt me as their mascot.  As I was filming them, they lined up both with me and in front me taking pictures of us together.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.49.22 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 10.03.58 AM

One of them, the guy in red-and-white striped shirt wearing diapers took my Espana hat and put it on his head. Overall, it was a very spontaneous scene. It was refreshing to see the fans of two opposing club mingling and partying together.

And here you can see yours truly proving that point – wearing a shawl with both teams insignia which Elizabeth bought for me from a your British (!?) street vendor at Casa de America plaza.

IMG_3647 IMG_4375

On May 24, Madrid was definitely the “soccer capital of the world,” as some of the signs claimed. Hopefully you will also be able to get a sense of some of that special atmosphere in the video below.

* * *

THE GAME

After all the hoopla as preamble, I was afraid that the game itself might be a letdown. It was not. It was as exciting as soccer gets.

The underdog, Atletico, led 1-0 all through the regulation time. But Real tied the score in 93rd minute, three minutes into extra time, to send the match into overtime.  Real scored again in 115th minute. After that, Atletico defense fell apart. Final score – Real 4, Atletico 1.

IMG_3652 IMG_3655 IMG_3666 IMG_3659 IMG_3658 IMG_3656 IMG_3665 IMG_3667

What followed an all-night party in the streets of Madrid.  As we were checking out of our hotel around 8 AM, the hotel clerk told me that when she came to work at 7 AM, there were still some revelers left in the streets.

And you thought soccer was about kicking a ball around? Soccer is Passion, Ecstasy, Agony, Dance and Music… all in one.

In other words, the Joy of Living.  And nowhere was that more apparent than in the “soccer capital of the world” on May 24.

ALL-NIGHT STREET PARTY

Check out these still images…

493642061 article-2638187-1E2E845800000578-880_634x437 Real-Madrid  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES EP-140529447 TS-DV1740805 article-2638646-1E300F8D00000578-547_634x419  parade_la_decima-20140525-001-bola.net

Nor is soccer passion limited to Madrid or Spain. Check out this example of it at a game today at the World Cup in Brazil.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 8.58.47 AM

Sadly, we Americans don’t get “soccer madness.” We have been brainwashed to think of sports the same was as wars – combat between two teams. American footballs looks more like the Roman-style gladiators out to kill each other than a friendly sport contest.

The rest of the world knows better.  Modern Romans are aware of the ancient Romans’ brutality and want no part of it. They remember that the ancient Greeks STOPPED ALL WARS during the Olympic Games. Ditto re. the native Hawaiians’ Makahiki games (see Elizabeth “compete” in the downhill sliding event). That’s when adversaries competed with each other in a FRIENDLY contest, the way Real and Atletico soccer teams did on May 24.

Win or lose, the fans of BOTH clubs had a great time that day (and night).  And so did Elizabeth and I.

Author: ALTZAR

Bob Altzar Djurdjevic is a writer, musician, video maker, thrice-ordained Inca-shaman, geopolitical commentator, business analyst, playwright-producer... He is also founder of non-profit organizations Stewards of the Earth (https://www.facebook.com/groups/gaiastewards) and Truth in Media (https://www.facebook.com/groups/truthinmedia.org/) ALTZAR shares his time between Maui, Hawaii and Scottsdale, Arizona. You can follow his blog at http://djurdjevic.wordpress.com/ and his travelogues at https://yinyangbob.wordpress.com/). Bob had also worked as a business consultant and advisor to top executives of large multinational computer companies for 36 years (1978-2014). He had spent 8 years working for IBM prior to starting his own business in 1978.

2 thoughts on “MADRID: ART, SOCCER, DANCE & MUSIC”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s