Dan had moved out of Chester a while before and we were due a catch up.
Its late in the year and starting to get cold in the UK, so Dan and I decide to head of to “sunnier climes”.
Madrid’s a place I’ve not been too before, and since is “Spain” we reason that it will be really warm.
Easyjet lay on a plane for us, and were away (Eating pringles and drinking a third of a pint cans of beer for £3).
Madrid airport is really impressive. I’m almost sorry we’ll be passing through it so quickly.
The Bus is really cheap, but we decide on a taxi. It takes 15 minutes and costs less than a tenner.
We arrive at our accommodation.
Hostel Rober, is a suit of rooms in what would have been a rented office.
Mum, dad & 20 something daughter live here, and have some extra rooms which they let out.
Spotlessly clean, on suit bathroom, tv and balcony. Everything I needed and more for £23 per room per night.
Not just that, but the location was fab too (this is the view from my balcony).
Right next too the Puerta del sol and 5 mins walk from the Royal Palace.
Madrid is a renowned centre for the arts and has many museums and gallerys.
Dan comments, that he’s only prepared to visit one (and its his trip as well, so why not).
Above is a picture of the world famous Prado
Since it’s a one shot thing, and just to be different, we decide to visit theThyssen Bornemisza museum.
Not as famous, but its got loads of cool contemporary art that I wanted to see (and they did nice coffee at a reasonable price for Dan).
Inside, its the usual sort of art gallery stuff.
The picture I’d heard about and really wanted to see was this one, The Hotel Room.
Painted by Edward Hopper in 1931 it shows a person in their hotel, with bags packed.
But it implies a sort of fear of the unknown, about to embark on an adventure, an implied fear of what might happen.
And inevitably, a yearning for security and comfort. To just stay where you are.
I’m not an art critic but I know all of these feelings and emotions, as I’ve experienced them all while travelling.
I bought a copy of it, and it hangs in a nice frame in my living room (although its a bit smaller than the real thing :).
Were not just interested in big buildings.
Monument of the fallen is built on the place where General Murat ordered teh execution of numerous Spaniards after the 1808 uprising. Since then, its been re-inaugurated as a moment to all those who have given their lives for Spain.
An gas flame burns on the front of the monument.
We’ve been walking around for a while now, and we find a nice Irish bar called Ulysses.
Its quiet (its 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon) but has a good atmosphere.
It gives us a chance to catch up (at one time we would see each other every night in the Frog & Nightingale, today were lucky if we meet up 4 times a year).
Couple of pints later, we head back out exploring.
The Puerta del sol is the main area of Madrid. All the shops are here and its where everything happens.
Behind dan is the famous Statue of the bear and strawberry tree the symbol of Madrid.
It Means gate of the sun and originated as one of the gates of the city from the 15th century when walls surrounded it.
Although it was sunny, it was also very cold.
Nearby, the Plaza major, the main square of Madrid and right near our hotel.
The Spy Shop.
Nothing much to do with Madrid, but they had some really cool gadgets in here.
In the windows, they had a dummy made up as a private eye, and inside had pens with recorders and clocks with cameras in them.
Cybele palace named after the Roman goddess of nature.
It had previously been the headquarters for all of Madrid’s telecommunications.
From a professional perspective, its the nicest data-warehouse I’ve ever seen.
Louise from Phonak really liked Madrid, and had recommended some places to see.
I’d printed a map from google, and she’d circled a place called Montaditos.
It was no OS map, but we managed to find the place all the same.
Inside it had a distinct Spanish feel with Tapas and stuff like that.
We weren’t hungry so had a couple of pints of San Miguel.
Speaking of which, Louise had also mentioned a really modern food market.
Just around the corner it was actually called San Miguel market.
Spend some time soaking up the atmosphere of the market, then back to our hotel to get cleaned up and out for the evening.
Dan suggested, since we both like steak that we should try a Brazilian steak house.
As I’d done all the organising of the trip, he bought dinner, which I thought was a really nice gesture.
I had a couple of beers, but when the steak hit the table I switched to a Chilea’n Merlot.
The place wasn’t too posh, but really nice and the food, drink and service were superb.
Just for fun, I used google to translate its name “En La Vaca”.
The result was quite suprising.
Next day, wandering around, we come upon the Acala gate.
The boating lake on Buen Retiro Park.
In the background you can see the monument to King Alfonso XII.
We wandered around the park.
You can see from Dan’s face, that the sunshine we’d come here to see wasn’t happening and it was really cold.
Elsewhere inside the park, the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace.
Built in the shape of a Greek cross, it was designed so it could be dismantled and re-put up.
This actually happened to its “sister” in the UK, but this one has remained here ever since.
Its no longer used as a greenhouse and now used for art exhibitions.
Next to the park, Cuesta de Claudio Moyano, popular for its many book stalls.
On a more contemporary note and just for fun, I loved this cash machine, which even had a keyboard so you could send letters to the bank.
We saw a more direct approach from some pensioners who arrived just as a bank was opening and standing just outside the door blew whistles all at the same time. A hundred people can make some serious noise like this (its was a protest about reduced pension payments).
Speaking of cuts, we passed this hospital building.
Whilst I sympathise with their cause, I think the person concerned should stick to the field of healthcare, and never again attempt to draw scissors.
On our last morning, since were so close (and since its raining) we head for the Royal Palace.
Hard to take a picture which captures it, I decide on thsi shot from the plasa del a la almeria.
Inside were the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a palace.
They also had an armoury, and there was just 1 security guard and us, and he kept looking at us as if we were going to steal one of the suits of armour (he obviously had no idea how much it costs to check in baggage on Easyjet if we want to get it home).
You dont hear much about the Spanish royal family. Although they conduct official ceremonies here, they live in much more modest accommodation in the outskirts of Madrid.
Well, that’s it.
We go back to our hotel, pick up our bags, get in a taxi and off we go to our “loser class” seats on Easyjet.