Madriz is the largest urban agglomeration we sampled since leaving Amsterdam, and what a place it is. Smaller than the city of Toronto with a population of almost a million more than the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), add hordes of tourists, and you have a pretty packed, and busy place.
As we rode into the city, I missed my exit towards the center from the perimeter, which borders the capital mostly in the form of a tunnel that does not favor GPS reception, hence if you miss your exit (puerta) you go for a long tunnel ride to the next exit.
The city never stops, and that’s on a cool and cloudy Monday evening in May with nothing out of the ordinary going on in town.
Madrid provided mixed feelings, it just did not make us feel as good as other large European capitals we now well. True we only have spent 2 and a half days in the city, but it was dirty, lots of garbaged not picked up, paper waste lying in the streets.
But full of contrast, I think it’s the kind of place, which you love to hate. The center, where most of the sights are located is dense with restaurants catering mostly to tourists that are fairly expensive.
The shopping district is sensational with large multilevel stores, especially Corte Ingles, Jackie's favorite, and countless boutiques offering anything you can possibly imagine, and than some. As we dawdled the streets, we could hear many European languages being spoken.
Una cerveza fria por favor
"Come on Valentino times a wasting, and it will be dark soon and the shops are gonna close"
"But... but... I gotta rest a bit, and by the way where are we going to put all this stuff"
Madrid is a truly international capital. The Y shape intersection created by Calle Gran Via and Calle de Alcala, reminded us of Time Square minus the high-rises. If you can’t find it in Madrid, you don’t need it.
Plaza de España
On the cathedral front, Compostella still leads the pack. The great cathedral of Madrid build facing the royal palace was impressive, but did not match the sights of our two previously visited cities. The hostel we stayed in was, clean, low cost, and served its purpose well. Located centrally from all the sights, it was great to be able to stroll the busy streets of the capital.
The Palace of Juan Carlos
Jackie felt right at home
From a different angle
Truly a capital
We walk through los Jardines del Campo del Moro (the royal garden)
After taking a wrong turn we were refused one of the reserved exits, and had to make our way back to the public access.
The highlight of our time their was the 6 hours we spent at the Museo del Prado, where we got a chance to get better acquainted with among others, Rubens, Velasquiez, Bosch, El Greco and of course Goya.
Jackie in very distinguished company
The masterpieces exposed took us through the years from 1100 to 1800, it was a cultural delight.
We went for canas and pinchos after the visit, and we had an unpleasant argument with a rude server, she was convince that stupid and tourists meant the same thing, regardless of the fact that both of us speak Spanish and argued that both the order requested and the price charged was off.
No big deal, typical of big city life.
This boutique across from the museum had quite a nice front
Although the temperature reached 20 C during the day, the evenings are still cool with sporadic rain showers. We are actually surprised that the weather has not warmed up more, folks are telling us that this is atypical for this time of the year.
No problem we are heading south anyways.
Last evening we went out to have dinner in a restaurant called the Museo del Jamon, although the food was good, half way through the meal we encountered a extra portion of protein in the form of a visitor from of a small diptera, maybe it was a member of the simuliidae family? First it was Jackies turn, than a few minutes later I also found a fly. Chef must have left the windows of the kitchen open, maybe they need to get some screens or something.
The server and cook both came to apologies for our entomological encounter and offered us our bottle of Rosé.
That was Madrid in a nutshell.
How I feel
Tomorrow we have a quick ride to Toledo, a UNESCO world heritage site, where we booked two days in a four stars hotel near the old city, again using lastminute.com. 85.00 Euros for both days…