Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dreams, Musings, Train Travel

This entry spans June 4 and 5. I'm still behind on uploading. Hopefully by tonight (ie. by Sun. afternoon in Canada), I'll catch up. Also, if you're reading these blogs of mine, leave me a comment. I feel super far from home right now, and it would be really nice to know who's interested in my blogs. :)

There’s a really surreal quality to sitting in a Madrid hostel room, and realizing someone’s playing Muse’s “Exogenic Symphony” loud enough that it carries all the way to you (I actually first heard “Map of the Problematique.” ...Ellie, are you in Madrid and didn’t tell me?). I guess it’s just one of those things where I stupidly expect everything to be foreign because I’m far from home, but the fact is that English music is still the major music in most of the world (I mean English language, not necessarily from England). On the one day that I had working tv in Madrid, I saw several Lady Gag videos come on the music station. That makes me sad.
But the Muse thing makes me happy, so at least there’s that.
Today, I had no plan when I woke up, since I’d done all the things I planned to do for sure. I decided then, that I might as well go to the Museo de Thyssen-Bornemisza.
And thank god I did. As is always the way with me, I would have really regretted missing out on that experience.
It meant that I got to put my face about an inch from “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second before Waking Up” by Salvador Dalí, one of my favourites of his. If I’d not bothered to go to the Thyssen, and then realized what I’d missed, I would have been extremely upset with myself.
And actually, the Thyssen ended up being possibly my favourite of the museums I’ve seen so far in Europe. It had more breadth than most; there is something kind of great about being able to survey art history from 1290 all the way to the 2000’s in one building. Plus, of course, one of my favourite Dalí paintings (and two of his others), another Magritte (not my favourite), and a bunch of really great moderns. I have to say, Lichtenstein really loses something in reproduction, because seeing it up close and realizing that he really did that with oil paint and a brush, not a computer program as would be done’s pretty amazing. I also found an artist called Frantisek Kupka who I’ve decided is a genius of the abstract. His composition skills are ridiculous. I probably stared at “Positioning of Mobile Graphic Elements” for 10 minutes because my eyes just kept going around and around. Brilliant. Wassily Kandinsky’s “In the Bright Oval” really had a lot to say to me, and I really kind of want to take an art history class or two now. Or at least more art classes. I miss painting.
Since I haven’t had internet to post that one, and it’s short, I might as well just keep adding on, despite the fact that it’s now the next day. I’m writing to you from a train from Madrid to Seville, where I’ll be for a few days. Thus far, I have to tell you, trains...are so, so, so much better than airplanes. Sure, it’s going to be a little longer on the train because it doesn’t go as fast, but I have leg room, and the luggage was all easy and nobody looked at me like I was a bug like most airport staff do. I think a while back Via Rail was calling train travel back home the “more civilized” way to travel, and I’d say that sounds about right so far. I’ll probably even get some real work done on this train. And it went so smoothly, I’m kind of looking forward to having two more days like this (one from Seville to Granada, the Granada back to Madrid), as opposed to plane travel, which I tolerate only for the cool places it gets me (as opposed to my mother who says she actually enjoys it?? I don’t get it, mom).
On that note, “D’yer Maker” by Led Zeppelin just seems like the right song for this mood I’m in. And if you know me, you should know that means all is well.
Ok, so trains are good, but they’re a little like cars for me; trying to read doesn’t end well. No, I was fine, but I had to take gravol and chew some mint gum and put away anything I could conceivably read for a little while. It kind of sucked. Anyway, I’m still looking forward to more trains, I just know to be careful now.
I arrived in Sevilla around 12:45 today, and began the attempt to walk from the station to my hostal, not having, of course, a clue where I was going. My only decent map is actually on my computer, and I wrote what I thought were decent instructions from them, but the trouble is that without the map right in front of me, I tend to get a bit turned around (and even then, in a new city...who knows). Anyway, I walked a bunch and realized I was going entirely the wrong direction, then walked most of the rest of the way relatively with ease (though it was hot as hell, and I have sooo much crap to carry because I’m an idiot), and even found the right street. I only had to whip out my computer twice to look at the map again.
Once I found the street, it was supposed to be about 1 block to my left, number 27. So I went there. And saw nothing. Numbers 30 and 32, sure, but no 27. So I asked someone at a restaurant there, who told me it was the exact opposite direction and on the right. Oh, good. So I tried that. And continued to see nothing. Except now I was at number 5. Even better. I asked another someone, and they pointed me in the same direction as the first guy had. Good sign, I guess.
Long story short, what is, according to the hostal website a “25 minute walk from the train station” took me and hour and a half in 32degree heat with something like 40 kilos of luggage. I was literally soaking wet, and kept getting sweat actually stinging my eyes.
But, there is a happy ending to this story.
My hostal has A/C.
The end.
Ok, and a nice shower. And my bathroom isn’t down the hall. And the tv works (not that there’s anything I want to watch here, but sometimes the background noise is nice when I’m in the room.
And now that there’s internet, I’m actually posting blogs to catch up, and I can check email and things.
Cheers from Sevilla!



  1. Hey there,

    In case you couldn't tell, I am reading your blog. I love how honest you're being about the complete travel experience, you know, the shift in your mood at hearing "La vie en Rose" and the way sometimes it is overwhelming and you don't come to like a place until you almost leave it. It makes me want to take a trip of my own more, because I know that that is how I would be too, at turns estatic and excited, but also mopey and worn down.

    Anyways, my other thoughts are, miscellaneously, that I agree museums are good places to be alone for just the reasons you stated...that you might like Picasso a bit more at Musee de Picasso in Paris because it's less crowded, but I don't know, it kind of leaves me cold too (I think it has something to do with the fact that he was a bit of misogynist and simultaneously obsessed with women as a subject)...I know what you mean about the marvel of intricate european architechture, (especially with those Catholics). It makes me wonder what changed in human culture as time went on that we used to throw so much artistic energy into worship and now we use that same energy to ponder, I don't know, disillusionment, existential angst?....

    Anyways, it's Monday morning here. I've been away camping for the weekend with my friends from High School and although I had a blast I spent some of the time pondering the ways that the whole poetry/writing thing has changed my personality and wishing I could have a long, satisfying (if somewhat navel-gazing) conversation with you about it. And now I've spent the morning reading your blog outside while my daughter plays on her trampoline/swing, in her sandbox etc. (and yes, it took me the whole morning because this child seriously needs to be the center of attention sometimes and interrupted me every other sentence). But it's finally spring in Calgary and my child is not rotting out her mind in front of the TV so all is well. It's been fun to drink my coffee, inhale the smell of suburban grass while the cars rush by and think of Europe. Can't wait to catch up when you get back and hear the stories that aren't making their way to the blog.



  2. I am reading now that you're in Espana. Which I love. I also went to the Thyssen, what an amazing museum. It was nice to have such old paintings lead through the ages to become modern ones, it very much put art in logical progression for someone like me, who knew so little of art.