Letters from Spain – Day 9

There are things on my to do or to see list in every city I have visited in Spain.  In Madrid, one of these places is the Museo Archeologico, which I never visited.  I wandered around for an hour reading the plaques and looking at the artifacts.  I’m fascinated by the Middle Ages and the history that follows, but it was good to stretch and learn about something different.

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Follow our rector-elect Marek Zabriskie as he travels around Spain on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage this month.
Read all of Marek’s blog posts here.

Our group of pilgrims gathered at 5 pm at the Episcopal cathedral to attend a worship service which culminates each week with the food ministry that blesses many families.  The Episcopal Church in Spain is focused on outreach as it is throughout the United States and the 16 countries where the Episcopal Church serves.  We are not just an American Church.  We are much more.

I made my way to the Museo Joaquin Sorolla, which is the former home and now the museum housing the works of one of my favorite Spanish painters.  Familiar paintings are like old friends.  Spending time with them is a joy.

Our group was meeting at the Ceveceria Cervantes for a last dinner.  I stopped by the Cafe Gijon on my way to meet them to enjoy a plate of fried sardines or bocarrones.  This is Madrid’s oldest cafe and the place where countless “tertulias” or discussion groups with Madrid’s best-known writers and intellectuals have been held.  One still meets every Monday around 5 pm.  This is the equivalent of Les Deux Magots or the nearby Cafe de Fleurs in Paris where Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty gathered to drink and philosophize.

The Ceveceria Cervantes was crowded and noisy — two things that I dislike.  I’m allergic to crowds and noise.  Hemingway wrote a short story about a clean, well-lit cafe.  This was not it.  He preferred the Ceveceria Alemana located in the nearby Plaza Santa Ana.  I suspect that he liked to read in such a place.  Why else would good lighting matter.  Since I was 21 and living in Paris on $3 a day, I have found reading in clean, well-lit cafes to be a source of infinite joy.

I closed the evening by visiting the Casa de Alberto — Madrid’s oldest bar — famous for its vermouth on tap.  Hemingway would be right at home here.

With love and prayers from Spain,