Madrid is just such a cool place
Madrid Travel Blog› entry 3 of 15 › view all entries
Time to edit in the detail :-) now that we are home :-(
Had wanted to go to Madrid for some while, and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Had expected Barcelona to be more like this, which is probably why I was so disappointed there.
Arrived at Barajas Airport just after 1pm local time, and my mate Frankie was there to meet us. Headed for the metro system which was a good 10-15 minutes walk from Terminal 1. Normal fare for Madrid Metro is €1 but there is a €1 supplement to and from the airport ( so that makes it €2 for those not keeping up :-D )
Got off at the end of Line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios, and rather trhan change lines we just walked it up to the Holiday Inn where we were staying.
Walked back to Nuevos Ministerios, more because Frankie and I were talking and catching up, not even occuring to us to get on the metro at Santiago Bernabeu which was just yards from the hotel. Each of us bought a 10 journey ticket this time, which cost €7-40
I had a list of 10 things that I had wanted to see and talking it over with my mate we headed downtown and got off in the Gran Via. Headed down to the Royal Palace, passing the Theatre Royal, which my mate told us that if you look at it from above it is shaped like a coffin.
Next we headed for the Paza De Espana, past the Jardines Santini, and my mate was pointing out to two 1940's(ish) tower blocks there. Here there is the monument to the writer Miguel De Cervantes and the amusing statues of his two creations Don Quixote on a horse and Sancho Panza on his donkey. From here it was a short walk back the way to the Temple De Debod. A gift from Egypt in appreciation of spains help in saving a lot of their monuments during the building of the Aswan Dam.
Walked back across the Plaza De Espana, where therre was a band on playing as part of the music festival for July, and headed up the Gran Via, Madrids main street. Cut down a shopping street that had canopies overhead to protect customers from the sun, and headed down to Sol. Here there is a statue of a bear and a tree, the symbol of the City of Madrid ( the region of Madrid has 7 stars on a red background) . Across the square is a city building, and barely noticable outside it, etched on the pavement is a mark representing the central point for all the roads in Spain.
From here we headed for the Plaza Mayor, down the Calle Mayor and cut up through Las Postas. Here there is a great place to get lunch, the Museo Del Jamon. Think there are a few of them dotted around the city, but you can sit in, stand at the sandwich bar area or get it to take away.
Into the Plaza Mayor and it looked grat with the sun streaming onto the painted facades of the buildings. Speaking during the day to Frankie, he told us that Spanish TV had done a series on people who had left Madrid and had asked them what they missed most about it, and almost all of them had said the light. Don't think I have been anywhere where the light has highlighted the architecture so dramatically.
We then went uphill, but as we passed the Justice Ministry, there was a protest stall set up outside it.
Here we entered the Barrio De Las Letras, where therre were text, from poems mostly, I think, written into the pavement. Carried on walking down past the Theatre Espanol and saw the Congreso Diputados parliament building. Here just down to the right was one of the most expensive hotels in Madrid informed my mate. Carried on down to the Plaza Canovas Del Castillo, which in fact is a roundabout with a fountain and a statue of Neptune in it.
A short walk then through the park with the Banco De Espana buildings to our left and just over the trees we could see the turrets of the old post office building and the new city hall. Here at the Plaza De La Cibeles was another roundabout, with a fountain and a chariot in the middle of it. This was where Real Madrid celebrate, which according to my mate was a far more regular occurance, and that the police would seal it off for the fans to gether and that the players would be in the centre at the fountain. Diagonally across from here is Americas House, which according to Frankies explanation, was trade and cultural delegation offices from many Latin American countries keen to keep ties with Spain, obviously because of the language.
Took a turn left and up to see the Metropolis building, which marks the end of the Gran Via, the other end being at the Plaza De Espana, before foing onto the Plaza De La Independencia with the Alcala Gate, again stuck in the middle of a roundabout. We were almost In Retiro Parque here, but it had been a long day,it was now after 8pm, and we decided to head back to Sol and go for some cervezas and tapas.
Frankie suggested the square at the Plaza Santa Ana, popular with locals, and we were lucky to get a table s most of the cafes and bars were full even at that time, early by Madrid standards. A band started to form in the middle of the square, with various instuments including sax and double bass, and started playing away. We sat there for over 3 hours listening and chilling, before deciding to call it a night.
Two got up, at the reasonable hour of 8am, and went for breakfast and two of us grabbed an extra half hours kip. They came back raving about the breakfast, enough so that we all went the next morning. Once we were all sorted we hit the metro,yet again, and headed for Line 2 and Ventas, where my mate said we couldn't miss the bullring.
On the way in there are a couple of bits on the wall,andone of them is the only place you will see the Republican flag, from the 1930's, anywhere in Madrid. The tour was really good and informative. We learned that King Juan Carlos like bullfighting,it is a kind of social thing there, but that he prefers to sit in Section 9 for the view and the atmosphere, rather than the Royal Box. Got to go out in the middle, and of course pictures with the matadors cape.
That done we then went a couple of stops along Line 2 to Retiro, and into the park. Lots of tree lined paths and avenues, all apparently named after Latin American countries. In the middle there is a lake and on the other side of the lake is the monument to King Alfonso XII. In the lake there are rowing boats that you can hire, €4-55 for 45 minutes, and I'd lost before I even started when the kids saw them.
All had a shot of rowing, with various degrees of success :-O, and with our son sitting in the bow my wife decided it would be funny to row it under the little spouting fountains that come out the side of the monument into the lake. Instead of just nicking through it though she eneded up stopping and filling the bottom of the boat, and our dauughter had her bag on the floor containing her camcorder, mobile, phrase books and sweets. If looks could kill, she was not a happy bunny.
Went to one of the cafes and sat and had lunch in the shade, before walking round again looking at the statues, fountains and gardens. it really is a very relaxing place. Still hadn't found the statue by the time Frankie phoned to say he was through with his interview and we arranged to meet in the Plaza Mayor in half an hour. At that though we found a map of the park with the monuments marked, and, despite having hee haw Spanish of note, there was only one that said Angel :-) Headed down and found it and was worth the effort. Back onto the metro system and into the Plaza Mayor, where my wife decided she wanted a drink. We ended up having a couple each, and it cost more than most of our meals in Morocco would.
Decide dwe would like to go back to the Plaza Santa Ana , and again it was just as good as the night before.
As you may have gathered I really, really liked Madrid. A long time since I have been that enthusiastic about a place. Fully intend to return and will do it to take in a Sunday at Las Ventas next time, and take in a few of the other bits we missed. Was great having my mate to take us about, but the metro system is fairly comprehensive and with a bit of pre planning anyone should be able to get about and have a great time there.