We waited for the rain to stop and took the shortcut to the Point Pleasant fire house, our polling place. We cast our ballots and then used the bathroom in the back. They have the coolest little bar in the back of the building, a firemen’s social club. I think they rent it out and each year I contemplate organizing a gig there for Margaret Explosion.
As great as the Little Theater Café is we really need to get out more. We’ll be there each Wednesday in November.
Here’s a song recorded at our last gig in September.
We had to start early on First Friday in order to make the rounds. The season is in full swing. I loved the way Owen Butler hung his large graphic digital prints in Warren Philips’ space. Steve Piper told us Owen was his favorite teacher ever when he took a photo journalism class from him forty years ago at RIT. I really liked the charcoal drawings at RoCo but it was odd to see all the homeless people smiling. Colleen Buzzard has curated a great little show in the temporary space created when Warren Philips moved his frame shop to the Hungerford Building. And we had fun with Roberley Bell’s household items partially encased in organic shapes at Colleen’s studio gallery.
El Camino, the so called Breaking Bad movie, would have been a snooze of an episode if it was part of the long running show. Jessie was only a vehicle for Walter White. I don’t care enough about him to even root for him. And putting Brian Cranston in the movie for a few minutes only threw salt in the wounds. And for all the money they made and then spent you would think they would have introduced some new scene stealing characters the way the show continually did. The best thing about the movie was Jim White’s song in the closing credits.
We’ve been reacquainting ourselves wit our environment by taking long walks in different directions. Along the lake where we see the beach has returned. Next time we’ll walk on the new sand. Through the woods to Kathy’s house where we checked up on her backyard project. Along the river from downtown to the UR and across the river to the coffee shop on Brooks Avenue where they had Jefferson Starshit on sound system while the only employee wore earbuds with his own music. And then back down the river on the west side a beautiful stretch. Today we wandered through our woodsy neighbor looking for downed trees fro last night’s wind storm. Not much but big branches and one dead end with no power and generators running.
We are still sort on Spanish time so we decided to stop in Parkside Diner for an early dinner. The newspaper rated their fish fry highly and we felt for it. We could have sold the fried dough casing at a carnival. The fish itself was ok but the cold slaw was as bland as you could imagine and the mash potatoes were the reconstituted kind. Peggi asked our server a question and instead of answering the server asked if she go take some one else’s order. The worst part though was the tv with Fox News on. Dana somebody was interviewing a guy with a cowboy hat who playing an upcoming Patriot’s Bash while streamer ran across the bottom of the screen with “Sticker Shock” teasers for Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare For All and something about Ocassio Cortez. I’m not sure if it was the tv or the food that gave me the indigestion.
I’m already missing breakfast in Spain but our first day back was so beautiful I think I’ll get over it. We made it back in time for Fall’s peak and still have not had a frost so we raided the garden and brought back tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, kale and some bok choy.
Our dentist had called while we were gone and we thought it must be the bill owed but when I returned the call the receptionist told me they had found my jack knife down in the seat.
We emptied our back packs and strapped them on again to walk up to Wegmans. In the process we saw most of our neighbors. We were happy to hear Jared’s cancer treatment is not getting the best of him. Jerry at the other end had a bad cold but he had a lot of wood for us, stuff a tree surgeon took down in his backyard while we were gone. The stray cat Rick and Monica took in had kittens so we stopped in to look. We learned both of them had tick bites while we were gone and Rick’s tested positive for Lyme. Phil and Nancy saw us coming back with our backpacks full and asked if we were walking home from Spain.
Rick and I played a couple of rounds of horseshoes before dark. Netflix had delivered Buñuel’s “The Phantom of Liberty” so we’ll take that for a spin tonight.
It was a nice night when we arrived in New York, pretty much the same temperature as Madrid but it felt different. There was a crazy man shouting at an invisible adversary as we waited for the subway. On the F we sat across from a Russian couple. We were reminded why we thought Portuguese sounded like Russian.
Duane had the table set when arrived in Brooklyn, some French wine and a hearty vegetable bean stew. Rochester’s Wegman’s had just opened their first store in New York and the press was making a big deal about that.
The day had gone on forever. Spain went off daylight savings during our last night so we added an hour there and gained five more crossing the Atlantic. We were telling Duane about Antonio Saura’s painting of his sister-in-common law, Geraldine Chaplin, when Peggi started nodding off.
We looked at Duane’s Robert Frank books in the morning. Found pictures of Delphine Seyrig and Alice Neel in Pull My Daisy. Still connecting the dots. Duane made some killer cereal from dried fruit, brown rice, almond milk and a mixture of exotic seeds.
Fall’s foliage was at peak as we rode north along the Hudson. Always a dreamy trip and opportunity to reflect.
20 Euros for a month’s cellular usage seems like a good deal. We swapped the AT&T chips in Peggi’s phone and my iPad for a Vodafone chip when we landed in Lisbon and we used them through Portugal and Spain with a few gigabytes to spare. Why does the same service cost so much in the States?
We stuck our credit card in two ATM machines while we were in Europe. Some of the funkier places only take cash so we need a few Euros. Everywhere else I used my watch to pay for everything from coffee, bus fair to hotel rooms. I held it up to vending machines. Apple Pay is excepted everywhere. Why is this not the case in the states?
I weigh 69 kilograms in Europe. Weights and measurements here are in metrics like the rest of the world. Would it be too hard for the US to get with the program?
High speed trains are clean, affordable and they run on time. They have good food and good coffee in the bar car. There are copies of the days paper there to share just like in every other café. This place is so civilized! Trump talked about fixing the crumbling US infrastructure. He’s full of shit. It was nice to be away from him for a while.
We told Margarita at Antonio Machón that we would report back after visiting the Museo de Arte Abstracto in Cuenca, a museum that features many of the artists she represents. It was her suggestion to take the train there and our report was glowing but Peggi had to do all the talking. We told Margarita that we had also seen some dramatic Antonio Saura work at the Reina Sofia where they had reconstructed a show from Spain’s Transition. That got her going.
She told us every step the Reina Sofia takes is political. Political with the bottom line in view. It was her opinion that the Transition is overrated. It was not a dramatic shift but one that built slowly while Franco was still in power. She says the Spanish people were not so repressed under Franco. Almodovar was dressing like a women, Saura was painting wicked portraits of Franco while he was alive. In fact, she argues, Franco’s death and the Transition made artists lazy.
We worked our way over to the Palacio de Gaviria this morning where four generations of the Brueghel/ Bruegel family were having a show. It goes without saying that Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) is the master but there was so much life depicted here by the whole family that one can’t be picky. Funny to think the Bourgeoisie bought these paintings because they recognized the joy depicted by real people, the common folk.
The family was able to visualize and depict the four elements, a perfect companion to Joe Henderson’s lp, the virtues and parables as well as the Tower of Babel and the temptation of Saint Anthony.
An additional café con leche at Café Gijon, the legendary literary salon, fortified us for the next stop, “El Sueno de la Razón,” paintings by painters influenced by Goya’s Las Pinturas Negras at Fernán Gómez. It was two hundred years ago that Goya painted the walls of his apartment with his so called black paintings. Everybody from Anselm Kiefler, Robert Longo, Antonio Saura and incredible animations from William Kentridge were included but none landed like Goya’s punch. An acknowledgement and fitting tribute to the master.
Margarita at Antonio Machón Gallery suggested we take a day trip to Cuenca, where the ancient hanging houses are, to see a show of Antiono Tapies’ work. The high speed Ave train to Valencia, whose first stop is Cuenca, was almost completo but we scored the last seats. I wound up sitting in Coche 7 and Peggi was in Coche 8. We were there in no time and inside the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español when they opened their doors at 11.
We have been going to museums for many years, starting long before they got so popular, and I have never seen a museum as beautiful as this one. The setting and art enhance one another and both are astonishing. They made an award winning movie about it.
The museum opened in 1966 when the wealthy artist, Fernando Zóbel, bought the fifteenth century building which just so happens to hang over the gorge of the Huécar. He bought the work of Spain’s best young abstract artists, his friends, in real time and built an astonishing collection. Tápies, Chillida, Muñoz, Millares, Sempere, Torner, Saura and Guerrero.
As a bonus, their rotating gallery featureS exquisite prints from Picasso’s Vollard Suite.
We left the Museo just as they were closing for the afternoon meal. The staff recommended the perfect restaurant for us. We sat outside and had the bast green salad of our whole trip. Baby spinach sprigs, walnuts, mushrooms, goat cheese, a sliver of caramelized ham, cherry tomatoes, and a thick dark vinaigrette.
One day after watching Antonio Mercero‘s movie of Franco being sent to his tomb in a telephone booth we watched Franco’s remains get exhumed from Valle de los Caidos on the tv in our hotel in Madrid.
It was a perfect day in Madrid. Blue skies and in the sixties. A perfect day for art shows. We started in the Fundacion Telefonica where we saw an exhibition on the history of online gaming, a much bigger world than imagined. And a virtual reality show devoted to artists. Our favorite room was the one devoted to Paul Delvaux’s painting, “L’appel.” We were inside the paintings, moving around the nude figures and getting ever closer the more we stared. The future is looking pretty good.
We took a break for our mid-day meal and walked to an exhibition of two architects’ work, one Spanish and one Italian, their 1950’s Mediterranean homes, our next domicile.
Yes, this is how we spend our time in Madrid. Una exposición tras otra. A lot of walking, looking and next to nothing for admission.
Our final stop was in the Círculo de Bellas Artes Building where we took in the Carlos Saura photo show. After Buñuel and Almodovar, Saura is the third most revered Spanish film director. Until today we only knew the work of his brother, Antonio. I posted one of his pieces a few days ago. Carlos may be more famous. He lived with Geraldine Chaplin for many years and worked with Buñuel. All roads lead to Buñuel!
The quote in my title is the name given to a sculpture by Alberto that stands in front of the Reina Sophia in Madrid. We had plenty of time to study it as we stood in line to get in.
Just yesterday we were introduced to Sara Ramo and today we saw another of her shows at Madrid’s contemporary art museum. This one a video installation, a dreamy short play that was staged behind her beautifully composed tapestry-like curtain. The curtain never rises fully so many of the characters are only seen from the waist down. There are overtones of violence against women but of course the women win the day with their resourceful feminine earthiness. And just as the show yesterday was weighted equally with playful pieces, a room here was lined with cabinets which had all sorts of surprises behind their doors.
A second show here called “The Poetics of Democracy” featured a hilarious video send up of Franco by Antonio Mercero from 1972. All of the work in this show was done by leading Spanish artists (Tàpies, Saura) during what is know as the Spanish Transition. Franco was a far worse monster than Trump and he evoked an equally strong reaction. If only Americans had it in them to react we would have a creative outburst.
The third act at Reina Sofia was Dephine Seyrig‘s “Defiant Muses.” Seyrig starred in Bunuel’s Milky Way and Discreet Charm, Robert Frank’s Pull My Daisy, The Doll House with Jane Fonda and Stollen Kisses by Francois Truffaut but she was an outspoken feminist and directed her own films.
This was a meaty show and it set the stage perfectly for a long walk in Retiro Park.
We have a well worn path in Las Letras section of Madrid and we always stay somewhere close to it. We have our favorite restaurants, cafés, book stores and holy card shops inside the triangle and it is surrounded by museums and art galleries. Cervantes’ home is in Las Letras and poetry from him, Calderon de la Barca and Lope de Vega is written on the sidewalks. There is a statue of Lorca in Plaza Santa Anna. Each visit we venture further out of this historic old section.
After a few cups of coffee we walked up and down Calle del Doctor Fourquet where all the new galleries are. It was a lot of fun but like some visits to Chelsea you sometimes leave hungry.
We had an afternoon meal at a restaurant that is over three hundred years old. Goya worked here while waiting to be accepted at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes and of course Hemingway hung out in the place.
Sara Ramo, a Brazilian artist, who has a show at Alcala 31, does these beautiful tapestries. She showed twenty here and each was a knockout.
António Machón Gallery would be uptown if it was in NYC. We have gotten to know the galley owner there and bought print from her last year. We stopped in and visited this afternoon and she pulled out some stunning pieces from her white flat files. Tàpies, Chilida, António Saura and Jose Guererro. We are no longer hungry.
We waited until the last minute to make train reservations for the ride to Madrid. Three trains leaving at a reasonable hour were all booked so we set the alarm for 5 AM and took the high speed down here. We had an early dinner at our favorite restaurant and wandered over to the Bellas Artes building to look for a list of art shows.
We were in the midst of a Luis Buñuel binge when we left the states so an item in one of the pamphlets we picked up called out to us. Ángel Exterminador was playing at La Fundacion Academia de Cine at 5 o’clock, one day only. It was thirteen minutes to five and the theater was exactly thirteen minutes away from where we were. Too may confluences. We arrived to two minutes early. We have a better than average walking pace these days. It was a huge screen and the theater was packed. We sat in the second row. With no English subtitles to distract our gaze it played like a visual masterpiece on top of its conceptual brilliance.
It is impossible to get away from corruption. It is a good part of what makes the world go ‘round. We found this graffiti under a bridge on one of the last legs of the Camino Portuguese. We did it! We walked from Porto to Santiago. It went too fast.
My watch has the sunrise time in the upper left hand corner and because it automatically adjusted to the Spanish time zone I assumed it was telling us the time of the sunrise here. So we set the alarm for 7 AM to get an early start for the last of our two week walk. Turns out that was sunrise in Rochester. We were up before the coffee shops opened. In fact young people were still partying outside a bar when we left our hotel. The sun, in this western region of Spain does not break the horizon until 9 AM. We walked the first few hours with the aid of the flashlight on Peggi’s phone.
The Cathedral in Santiago is closed for repairs so no Botafumeiro. No problem. We did that last year when finished the Camino Frances. We’ll take a high speed train to Madrid tomorrow.
We fell in love with Pimientos de Padron the first time we had them. And it was so long ago we can’t agree on where it was that we first experienced them. They are unique to Spain and it turns out they originated in this town, Padron. We walked here today, in a continual rain, from Caldas do Reis. There was a sameness to the route. The surface was mostly crushed stone, otherwise it would be a mud pit. They get a lot of rain here and the forests look more like jungles.
But the peppers are only a small part of Padron’s import and significance to our Camino. Legend has it that it was here that Saint James the Apostle first preached the gospel in what was known as Hispania. And when he was beheaded in Jerusalem nis disciples brought his body parts back in Padron in a stone boat! The boat was found tied to a big Celtic stone, something called a padron. We visited the stone today where it now sits, at the base of the alter in the church of Santiago de Padron.
.The story has it that Saint James’ remains were transported to Santiago, the city that was named after him, and they are kept in a vault below the cathedral. Tomorrow we reach our destination, Santiago de Compostela.
The first thing Peggi did when the alarm went off was check the weather. She was excited to see that it wasn’t going to rain after all but it was going to be about ten degrees cooler than the day before. And then she realized she was looking at Rochester’s weather.
We headed out of Pontevedra, crossing the river and thinking we were following the Camino along a tributary. We saw some official markers counting down the kilometers to Santiago and after about an hour only one sign marking the Camino as “Spiritual Variant.” That sort of puzzled us but we soldiered on. We climbed a hill that led to a church where the bell was ringing. We couldn’t find any way to get in so we stopped at the Casa Rural across the street and had a cup of coffee. The proprietor told us the bells were ringing for someone in the town who had just died.
While we were in there it started pouring rain and we prepared ourselves to head out into it but first we looked at the map and discovered we were way off the Camino. We were in fact on an additional route, one that adds a day to the journey to Santiago, one called the Spiritual Variant.
A long discussion ensued as to how we could get back on the real Camino without just, god forbid, going back the way we came. With the proprietor’s help we identified the town of San Caetano as being both up ahead and on the Camino. We mapped a walking route on Google which was just amazing. We wound our way through tiny villages, farm fields and vineyards on the smallest of dirt paths turning left or right when Google spoke and we found the Camino. What was billed as an easy day became eighteen miles but it was nothing short of beautiful the whole day.
We were having a beer in a restaurant on the outskirts of Pontevedra when I got a prompt on my watch. “Margaret, you’ve crushed your Move goal.“ My watch is tethered to Peggi’s phone and neither one of us has ever set any goals for the app. It’s sort of annoying, all the “Looks like you’re exercising. Do you want to record your workout?” stuff. I just ignore it. It records our movement anyway. I can’t complain. Everyone in Europe takes Apple Pay, the cafés, bars, restaurants, supermercados. I don’t have to fumble with my wad of Euros.
Checking the news from home we saw that Luna played at the Haunt in Ithaca last night. Personal Effects played a gig there with Grandmaster Flash back in the day. Would have liked to hear Luna.
We are below the 100 kilometers to Santiago mark and so we’re starting to see more pilgrims. When we did the big one, the Camino Frances, last year, we experienced the same influx near the finale, people with day packs who hopped on at the last stop. They have their bags sent ahead. They remind me of what we used to call weekend hippies back in the sixties. They test your patience,. They call you on your judgmental steak. They remind you there is virtue called temperance and an ideal revered to as acceptance.
Our shoes were wet and soggy from yesterday’s rain so I stuck the hotel room’s hair dryer down in our shoes. I left it in one of mine and got sidetracked. I managed to melt the Merrill insert that was glued to the sole of my shoe. It was detached and about three quarters of its original size. To my surprise the shoe felt more comfortable walking without it.
We originally planned on stopping in Redondela but we got there so early, after maybe five hours of walking, that we decided to move on to the next town. We stopped for a beer and Peggi found a place online right on the Ria de Vigo, which is really more like a bay off the Atlantic Ocean. Rio is river in Spanish and Ria is a salt water river. We arrived in time for dinner just before four and we sat in the glassed in dining room overlooking the Ria and the bridge to Vigo.
The Hotel Antolin is like something out of an old movie. The employees seem like they have been working here their whole lives. The furniture is dark. It is well past it’s prime but still able to attract groups of businessmen for lunch. The chef waited on us and left the table while taking our order to blow her nose. There is a bar downstairs which we plan on visiting before bed. Antolin is long gone.
Heading out of Tui this morning we saw fresh, long loaves of bread hanging on people’s doorknobs. Another reminder that civilization has not advanced equally in all parts of the world. Tui has some history. The town was here in Christ’s time. The Romans gave it its name and built a wall around it. Because of its location on the river and on the border it was a place of continuous fighting in the Middle Ages. The medieval Cathedral of the Assumption was built in the highest spot in town in the twelfth century.
We can’t get away from Trump. He has infected the whole world. We were having our main meal this afternoon in Porriño and the tv was on in the dining room. They were playing the cartoon video showing Trump shooting up the fake media. We were kinda hoping he would just go away while we were here.
Before falling asleep we watched the second half of Portugal vs. Ukraine in the UEFA EURO Qualifiers. Ronaldo scored once in the second but it was not enough to defeat Ukraine.
The rain brought these lovely creatures out. They are delicacy here. You often see them announced in a bar with a small sign that reads “Hay Caracoles.” We have not seen them advertised here yet but we have seen signs reading “Hay Angulas.” Eel.
The Camino de Santiago gets you well out of the well worn tourist areas. When you walk on country roads and paths though tiny towns you wind up shopping where the the locals do. The receipt from the bakery we stopped at on the way out of town, a place called Petinga Doce Pastelarias on Rua de São, shows we paid 0,80 for Abatanado (espresso) and 2,30 for a tall glass of “Sumo Nat Lara” (fresh squeezed orange juice) and most astonishingly, 0,85 for two delicious pieces of apple pastry. That was our last breakfast in Portugal.
Mid morning we stopped at the smallest grocery store we have ever set foot in and came out with a four pack of strawberry yogurt, two bananas and a liter of bottled water for 1,83 Euros!
In Tui, Spain, this afternoon we had sea bass, the whole fish cooked on the grill and served with boiled potatoes with Ensalada Mixta (a hearty salad (greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots, eggs and tuna), a bottle of house red and flan for desert. 23 Euros for the both of us.
When you walk all day you enhance your appreciation of food.