A day of art, design, and subway

The day began with instructions for the second time about how to get to Casco Viejo, (the old part of town) by the subway. Yanita Napoles, the lady at the front desk, the one from Cuba, explained it to me yesterday, but just in case I got the directions one more time this morning.

It all went smoothly, with me buying a five euro bus ticket, which Yanita said should last for the whole week I’m here. When I got off at Casco Viejo, I really didn’t know where to go or what to do, so I wandered around, and got the flavor of the area as the city began to wake up.

The top of a building. I just liked the design.

I found an old cathedral and went inside. People were sitting on the pews praying and meditating. I joined them for a few minutes then walked out where I saw a woman sitting on the steps begging.

Later, I walked up toward the newest part of town and heard a young man playing an electric violin accompanied by an older man on an accordion. It was beautiful music. I wished the lady beggar had a talent to share, with the ability to make a bit of money instead of sitting on cold steps. It’s not a very creative way to live, and it’s sad.

On this journey, there are many remembrances in one country that helps me out in another. And one of those today, was the ‘Hop on Hop off Bus’ that, so far, every large and medium sized city I’ve been in has had one or more of those, so luck was with me when I saw a big red bus that said Tourista on the side, along with the friendly words, “hop on hop off”.  I singled for the bus driver and he stopped for me. It wasn’t a designated stopping point but he was a nice guy. I observed people in Madrid asking for the bus to stop and the driver would just shake his head and drive on. In fact, I was one of those persons.

The tourist bus was eleven euros for the one hour ride and the ticket could be used all day long if I wanted. I asked him if he had a rate for a Senora Viejo, and he said the price for a Senora Viejo was the same for a student.

We headed around the town with a commentator that I couldn’t hear very well, but I kept asking the driver where we were.

Then, it appeared!

Right in front of us down the street stood the Guggenheim Museum.

Guggenheim Museum

“Oh, that’s the Guggenheim, isn’t is?”


“That’s one place I must see. I’ll get off here.”

“No, don’t get off here. I drive right up to it. Don’t worry.”

He must have told me not to worry a dozen times before the day was over.

After I saw all I wanted to see in the Guggenheim, and more on that later, I walked over to a outdoor cafe to sit, rest my aching legs, and get something to drink and a Pintxo. Those little snacks are just perfect. Today, it was tuna fish on a roll with a thin pepper.

You don’t find huge servings of anything here, even the dinners do not overstuff you.

Anyway, I saw the most beautiful white dog, and asked the man who was sitting at the cafe if I could pet the dog, and he smiled and said yes, and “I speak English.” Turns out his son works in Silicon Valley in computers, as he has for eighteen years. The dog is a cross between a wolf and a husky. “We never have to give the dog a bath. She is always clean.”

While I sat down with the gentleman and the dog, several other people approached and asked to pet the beautiful animal.

Half wolf/half husky

The Guggenheim is a master piece in design, and, to me, the building is the art, more so than the collection inside.

I found the architect’s words about his process in design fascinating. Architect Frank Gehry, a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in architecture demonstrates his philosophy in his work, with the belief that there should be no line between art and architecture.

He says in the autoguide that the museum provides, that he first begins free flow sketching, without picking up the pencil, the ideas just come to him without any preconceived ideas, and then he goes back to the sketch and begins a plan.

The building, a moving, flowing, smooth surface, give you the idea of water. The building sits right near the river giving the feeling that the water and the building are the same. Gehry said he had a love of fish and a personal history of fish. As a kid his grandmother would take him fishing and she would put the fish in the bathtub until time to cook the fish. Gehry would play with the fish first. Evidence of the lightness of water and the skin of fish can be seen everywhere on the outside of the building with liberal use of titanium and glass.

From a website: “The titanium cladding used is half a millimeter thick, each piece is unique and has been designed with the aid of a state-of-the-art 3D design computer program. The volumes are linked by glass curtain walls for light transparency.

In some of the more curvaceous and irregular exhibition spaces within the museum the floor is constructed of cement with curved and twisted walls.”

After visiting the Guggenheim, I found the Hop on bus and the same nice driver. We talked a bit about the Guggenheim before he started to move. He said the fine art museum, in his opinion has the better artwork.

“It’s down the street.”

“Oh, I want to get off down there at the museum.”

“No, you shouldn’t use the bus. Get out here and walk.” He told me how to get there.

I then toured the art museum where the artist Fernando Botero was featured. Along with Botero’s fantasy and humorous art, there were artists such as El Breco, Goya, Gauguin, Barcelo and more. I couldn’t pinpoint a favorite. I liked all of it.

Fernando Botero artwork from a sign outside the museum

I found the bus stop and the nice bus driver took me right to the Casco Viejo subway. There was a nice gentleman who said, when I asked to make certain that it was the right stop, that is was correct and he was going that way, as well. He got off the same stop and bid me a good night. It was a great day.




4 Responses to A day of art, design, and subway

  1. Just love Frank Gehry’s designs. He did the Disney concert hall here in L.A. Many years ago, I was with an artists’ committee that met with Gehry about designing affordable housing for people in the entertainment industry. What an interesting, caring man he is.
    Your photos are just wonderful!

    • Thanks Sumi for the compliments on my photos. I would like to meet Gehry, as well. He sounded so down to earth and nice on the museum guide. He spoke about his philosophy of architecture. He must be the perfect architect to design affordable housing.

  2. Laureen……great pictures……dog included. Especially like the one of the chubby dancers !!!
    Have you found your new nesting place yet ?

    • No to the nesting place. I’m here for the rest of the week. However, on Friday, I’ll go to a farm town with the lady I mentioned before. That’s just for one day.

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