MadridSunday, April 29th
Plaza de Espanza Don Quijoe and Sanchez
We arrived in Madrid at 1pm after an uneventful flight. Some type of demonstration going on so the cab driver had to take a circuitous route to the hotel and ask a police officer for permission to pass. Hotel Atlantico is very centrally located and is bright, spacious and clean. The front desk staff are terrific.
We tried to stay up so we hit the streets to wander around for a while. Our first stop is Plaza de Espana which has a collection of market vendors selling local trinkets and trash not a particularly attractive square but it does contain a bronze statue of Don Quijote with sidekick Sancho Panza.
We meander along the road that passes the Royal Palace. It is an enormous structure with 3000 rooms but this day there was a long line so we did not stop to visit. We continued along until we arrived at the Mercado San Miguel. This is an amazing food market where you can buy any type of tapas you can think of and wander around eating and drinking. I guess because it's Sunday, you can hardly move; it is so crowded we can hardly see
the displays at the counter, so we will have to return here for sure!. We opt to try some Tapas at a local bar but Spanish not being our strong suit we end up with two plates of croquettes with potatoes mushroom and cheese. They are not that great,perhaps we chose the wrong place. We are pretty tired and decide to call it a night at 6:15. Can't keep our eyes open any longer. Monday, April 30th
First thing we take both routes of the "hop on, hop off" bus which gave us a great overview of Central Madrid.
Then off to the Prada as tomorrow is a public holiday and it will not be open. We reach the Prado mid morning, but the line is quite long so we decide to go down to the train station which is quite close to see about tickets to Toledo. The boulevard on the way is tree lined and quite lovely . Got tickets for Toledo tomorrow, grabbed lunch and headed back to the Prado, which probably a better time to go as the line was very small now (about 1:30) .
The visit to the Prado was
wonderful. We spent about 5 hours looking at the marvelous exhibits of Goya , Velazquez, El Greco and many other artists. We bought an guide which provide details abouts the artsits and each of the works in the gallery which for folks like us with no real knowledge of art is a useful tool both during and after the tour. Grabbed some tapas for dinner. Dana did not understand how two little tapas translated into dinner but they did and we headed home about 10 after a long day No dinner again!! Tuesday, May 1st
Okay we are off to Toledo. Oh I guess not!! We missed the train by 5 minutes, can only get a refund for the return portion(losing that money almost broke Debra's heart) These are the consequences of getting up late and getting lost walking to the train station (despite the fact we were there the previous day!)
Spent the balance of the day touring around Madrid. Pleasant walk through Retiro park which is a very large park in the center of the city. There were lots of families in the Park which had numerous Puppet Shows, and lots of other entertainment for
Most of the Museums were closed today as it was a national labour holiday. We got caught in a street demonstrations on the way back from the park that ended at Plaza de Sol.
Debra did finally agree to dinner which we had close to Plaza Major. It was expensive and mediocre which may have been a function of our lack of knowledge on the menu. Wednesday, May 2nd
This time we made the train to Toledo. It's about 1/2 hour ride and was 20.00 Euro per person return.
Toledo is a medieval town that was recaptured from the Moors by the Christian King Fernando in about the 13th Century. On the original site of a Mosque, there is built a gigantic Catherdal that took 300 years to complete( a little longer than the Burton Bridge for those from New Brunswick)
The town is charming and we should have stayed a couple of days to really appreciate it. We had lunch in a beautiful courtyard restaurant that was part of a Hotel located within the town walls.
Back to Madrid to meet with Mike and Paula. They were in surprisingly good
El Estanque ornamental lake in retire park
shape after the overnight Atlantic flight so we went out for Tapas and visited the Mercado de San Miguel which we didn't see well on Sunday.
Overall Madrid is a good city to visit. We really didn't see much of it and it is one of the great cultural centers of Europe. The weather was cool and wet so it may have been a little early for the more enjoyable weather.
Certainly no signs of a withering economy but the demonstrations on Tuesday were a large protest against pending Government cut backs!
Off to Sevilla tomorrow by train with Mike and Paula.
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