2.5 Days in the Capital City of Madrid, Spain
03.17.2010 - 03.18.2010 60 °F
March 17- The flight from Buenos Aires to Madrid was excellent. Only 13 business class passengers in the cabin that takes over 30 so no one had some sitting next to them. It will probably be my closest feel of international first class I will ever hope to experience. Felt like a movie star! I feel asleep somewhere over the Amazon near Bahia, Brazil and I woke to see the lights of Casablanca pass under me from 34,000 feet. We arrived at around 6 am to a very quite Madrid International Airport which was just fine with me! What a cool airport, so modern with lots of glass, steel and LED lights and reader boards. I love Europe because its so far ahead of the US in so many ways but that’s another Blog I will do someday!
Arrived at Hotel Atlántico my home for 2.5 days and I couldn’t have picked a better location as it is right on the main Blvd called of course Gran Via. I had to wait a few hours for a room to become available as the hotel is full and I can see why. Great bargain by any standard. I was upgraded at no extra cost to a beautiful suite at the top of the hotel overlooking the Gran Via. Not sure why but I can turn on the charm when needed CHUCKLE. I don’t have to worry about walking into the glass shower wall in this gorgeous marble bath complete with a tub I will be soaking in tonight you can bet on that and my back will be much happier I’m sure. OK mentioned my back again but honestly, I’m an old man and have an even older back.
A quick shower and breakfast and I was off to explore Madrid. I bought a 17 Euro pass and which allowed me to hop on and off the red Double Decker bus same as they have in most major cities around the world anymore and it is so great for sightseeing. I can’t possibly describe how surreal and beautiful Madrid is. I have been to Paris, Rome, London and Athens but this city is different in all the best ways. It’s hypnotic with grand plazas and sparkling fountains. Madrid’s pride is the Prado, one of Europe’s great museums and home to Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. I toured El Palacio Real, the seat the Spanish empire and the best preserved palace in Europe and there’s a hell of a lot of them. Madrid apparently has the greatest hoard of art treasures per area around the Prado Museum of any city in the world all hidden away in the center of the city. The architecture, people and energy all come together to amaze and tickle every sensation and left me speechless and looping all day jumping on off the bus. I will let the pictures and videos speak for themselves so enjoy! Raleigh, you are so right about Madrid. Venice used to be my favorite and is still up there but I will say right now that all reading this who haven’t been yet better get it on their bucket list. You won’t regret it!
March 18 – Today I visited Toledo about 70 kilometers south of Madrid and the former center of the universe for the region before Madrid took over that role centuries ago. Toledo only has about 80,000 inhabitants compared to the millions in Madrid and so quiet and charming. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Many famous people and artists were born or lived in Toledo, including Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was a very light rain when I arrived which was so nice as I have a bit of a sunburn from riding on the top deck of the bus and walking the plazas and gardens of Madrid yesterday. Did I mention the food? OMG, from the most delicious Gazpacho I have ever eaten to popping in Tapas bars for a quick snack. Carrey, the pastries are to die for especially when you wash them down with Chocolate a la España (Spanish-style hot chocolate) and very similar to what I also enjoyed in Buenos Aires. I really love the Churos (not sure about the spelling – the deep fried batter with a little sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on them - as they are easy to grab and snack on as you walk around and just enough to take the edge off. I have decided to avoid the tourist shows here so the Flamingo is cancelled for me tonight. My mom used to dance Flamingo for the family shows we did in Alaska (We were the Osmond family of Alaska in the 1960’s). I’m still in therapy from that experience LOL!
Well I fly tomorrow March 19 at 4:30 pm to London’s busy Heathrow to catch my British Airways flight to Cape Town. Not sure if you heard but BA is going on strike Saturday so my flight missed it by one day. Oh thank you GOD! This will be my first time flying the upper deck of a 747 and I have been in love with that plane (The Queen of the Skies as she is known). The flight crew had better not be stressed because of the impending strike or they will be in big trouble and I refuse to let anything interfere with this much anticipated experience. More from Cape Town my friends!