2011 Long weekend in Madrid
|Nigel and Joke snatch a late autumn break in Madrid|
Friday evening view along the Avenida Reina Victoria near Madrid's university district
Romantic view to the south, as the sun sets behind the train sheds
Pigeon's-eye view of punters crossing the road
Our restaurant of choice on Friday night ... they didn't speak a word of English but they did at least have an English menu. We had a thoroughly nice, and totally Spanish nosh up for just EUR 50!
I think that I should have perhaps gone for the octopus rings with lemon
Odd, it looks just the same in the morning as it does in the evening
OK, a bit brighter ... but that is about it!
Third floor urban garden ... a little piece of paradise
As we approach the magnificent Fuente de Neptuno (Fountain of Neptune) in the Plaza de Canovas del Castillo we see that the riot police have turned out in force ... turned out that there was a demonstration in progress.
Two living statues freezing their arses off in the fresh November air
Jazz musicians too .... this place was really hopping.
The two guys in brown discuss the joys of deep vein thrombosis with the very active living statue in silver (was I the only one who thought that this was strange?)
Nope - Joke thought that it was pretty odd too ... but she was much too polite to say anything.
Neptune gushes all over the plaza
What's this? Senora Tussauds?
Who can say? I can only handle just so much weirdness in any given day.
How much does this bloke earn each day I wonder? Not enough, would be my guess.
So we finally end up at the Prado and manage to extract a couple of tickets from a ticket machine (unlike many of the locals, these machines have a passing knowledge of English).
Now Joke likes great art as much as anyone, but her legs are knackered.
When we first arrived, there weren't too many people around ... but by the end of the day it was thick with art lovers.
We stopped for lunch in the Prado's cafeteria ..... there is nothing like a luke-warm bowl of minestrone soup and a bun to revive the inner art lover.
This was the last photo that I took in the Prado ... a small uniformed lady gave me a sharp ticking off ...ah well, such is life.
The main entrance to this fine institution ... hidden away at the back ... took us forever to find it.
Joke decides that we just have time for one more cultural fix before we have to head back to the hotel .... so we charged up the steps to investigate the early 16th-century Roman Catholic church of San Jerónimo el Real (St. Jerome Royal Church).
This is the back end of the Prado .... they are not big on windows it seems. But then, with hundreds of millions of euros (about 50p in UK money, at the moment) of art on the inside, there may well be people on the outside with naughty ideas (surely not?).
Not sure whether these people were here for a religious experience or for a tourist experience ... I snapped away quietly and respectfully ... just in case.
Oh goody .... yet another crucifixion scene ... I had overdosed on those in the Prado.
Now THAT is a big painting, and I should know - I've seen a few.
No sign of the priest .... he'd probably just nipped out for a fag
Meanwhile, back in the Plaza de Santa Ana, we go in search of a hostelry where we might satiate the inner tourist.
Amazingly, there were plenty of punters willing to brave the late autumnal chill and dine outside.
When Joke checks a menu, she goes the whole hog.
Nose pressed to the glass, she inspects the patrons of this particular establishment to see whether they are worthy of our company.
Oh goody ... another menu.
Joke hovers, while people come and go
Good grief! She's making a real meal of this one.
With one last glance across the plaza, we head off in search of grub.
This living statue on the right was REALLY good .... the bugger didn't move for DAYS!
This place looked attractive ... but we chickened out and didn't go in.
More careful checking of menus ... at EUR 22 for a set menu, this looked good ... but Joke didn't trust it .....
So we finally ended up at Anonimatto. To say that it was quiet was an understatement ... everybody was sitting out in the back garden.
First thing in the morning I heard this odd scratching at the window ... on opening the curtain I discovered this artisan-type dangling from a rope ... must be some quaint local custom.
Taking our life in our hands we head off to Plaza del Sol, centre of the known Spanish universe.
Plaza del Sol is small .... for the centre of a universe (even a Spanish-speaking one) ... what is more, it is not square ... it is round ... well, semi-circular in fact. What is THAT all about?
We were briefly tempted by the tourist bus, until we noticed the EUR 20 price tag.
Scenting the change in my pocket, Senor Carlos de Chaplain weaves his way in my general direction...
I know that this is going to cost me money .... but who could resist?
Seems like a simple enough job, but what is the career structure like? What sort of pension arrangements does he have? Is there a medical plan? Professional development?
We saw about three million people standing in line .... I guessed that it might be a queue for lottery tickets ... amazingly I was right (hope floats).
Slightly better view of the same queue
Having overdosed on shopping, we arrive in Plaza de Major
This is what we came for ... an octopus bun!
So there we were in this Spanish greasy spoon, sweating in the clammy heat and counting cockroaches .... all for this cultural experience! Serious tourism demands dedication and commitment.
So this was the place ... and that was the dish "Boccadillos de Calamares"
Having emerged all blown out with octopus bun ... we were accosted by hundreds of tapas bar owners trying to sell us their wares.
Heading east out of Plaza Major ... on the way back to Plaza Santa Ana
We turned to look back ... and somehow managed to avoid being transformed into pillars of salt.
Pretty sure that this statue was indeed a statue ... if not then he had gone totally over the top.
We wandered past this place in a pretty little side street
We were sure that this was another human statue ...
Clearly, Joke has her doubts
So before you could say "Bugger me, this is a fun weekend" it had flashed past and there we were back at the airport.
On a size scale of 1 to 10, this airport scores 20! "Large" doesn't even begin to cover it.
We had been very lucky with the weather. Originally Sunday and Monday were supposed to be wet ... but aside from a brief light drizzle on Monday afternoon, the weather stayed dry. Until we were at the airport, and then the heavens opened.
The first 20 minutes of the flight were pretty turbulent, but then we escaped the bad weather and all was well. We both agreed that Madrid was a great city, and that long weekends anywhere are generally a good idea.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 20 December 2011 18:43)