Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Madrid 18th September 2007

After getting up this morning we bought some breakfast from the bakery across the street and then wandered around a little until we found a stand with a sign about the bus tour around Madrid. One or two day passes to jump on and off buses along two different routes.

We bought the two day pass as it wasn’t much more than the one day pass and decided that we could use it to get to the Prado Museum and the botanical gardens if we were running out of time and couldn’t walk the distance and still leave us enough time to look around.

While I don’t know if I could live here - it really is such a lovely city. There are so many tree lined streets with too many to count gardens and fountains - it is just so pretty. I can’t tell you how many little cafĂ©’s there are with outside seating under the trees - if only every second person we saw wasn’t smoking. I said to Al yesterday it is almost like they don’t know about lung cancer over here. There are very few places where you actually see No Smoking signs - we did see one today when we went to the Natural Sciences museum.

We hopped on the bus at about 9.50 (they start running at 9.30 but we had to wait for it to get to us) and did the whole of the ‘red’ tour before hopping onto the ‘blue’ tour bus. While we were driving along we made a note of the places we wanted to hop off at so that we could go back to them. I had to laugh this morning - while we were waiting for the bus to arrive, a lady stopped to ask if we were waiting for the Madrid Vision bus and I said yes. She started chatting (an American) and then asked if we were Australian, so I said yes we are. She said “Oh I just love your accent” and laughed when I told her it was a South African accent saying “I can’t tell the difference “ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After doing the two tours we stopped and had some lunch - at least when we are in the timeshare places it will be a little cheaper to feed the three of us - it is starting to get a little pricey eating out and maybe we will have to resort to the two meals a day we spoke about before leaving !!!! It is just a little difficult when we are doing so much exercise (not as much today as yesterday but still quite a bit if we only eat twice a day - plus how can I say to Kaitlin no you can’t have anything to eat when she says she is hungry ??????)

We went back to the chemist today and Kaitlin did a really good job of explaining to him that we had been in the day before and got this particular cream but that my legs had got worse. He said I needed to see a doctor. We left there and decided we would wait until tomorrow to see if it was worse before worrying about trying to find a doctor.

After lunch we went back to the Natural Sciences museum - at first we couldn’t find the right place even though we went into the building which had a sign saying words to the effect of Natural Sciences and then had a difficult time trying to work out what the security lady was saying about going out, to the right and three doors - just to the right were three doors which Al wanted to go into but Kaitlin said that the sign there said School of Technology and Industrial Engineering - he still wanted to try so she told him he would have to go and ask because she wasn’t embarrassing herself by asking when she knew it wasn’t the right place !!!! In the end we walked a little further down and found another entrance with a sign to the Natural Sciences museum - went in and it was 5 euros. Al really wanted to see it so we went in and went to pay when the lady handed us our tickets and said we could go in - without paying. We thought - what a bonus - until we started to walk around - then we were REALLY glad we hadn’t paid 5 euros each !!!!! There were a couple of stuffed animals, some insects and fish in bottles and some animal heads mounted onto walls - really not worth paying for at all !!!! It was very strange as on the tour they said that it was the most advanced and interactive Natural Sciences museum in the country - but maybe what they meant to say was that it will be the most advanced and interactive NSM when it is finished as there were a couple of sections which were cordoned off which maybe they were working on (they were just empty halls as far as we could see) . Anyway, after that we walked across a couple of streets to save sitting on the bus for the whole of the top loop of the tour again and caught the bus back to the stop where we got off for lunch and came back to the hotel for a siesta (it didn’t take us long to get into the Spanish way of life !!!!!!!!) The trouble was we didn’t set an alarm and 4 ½ hrs later I woke up after someone slammed a door outside only to find that it was too late to visit the Templo de Debod which is what we were going to do after our siesta.

Al has just woken up and had a shower, Kaitlin is jumping in the shower and then I will shower before Ignacio (a chap who used to work with Al in Taiwan) is coming to meet us and take us for a walk down some little narrow roads into a big square and then onto some tapas bars for dinner - it should be a great evening. I just love seeing the little narrow roads with the cobblestones - I probably wouldn’t like to drive down any of them but they are so quaint to see. I have a feeling that our two nights in Barcelona is not going to be enough especially as it is going to take us the better part of the first day to get there and we have to leave reasonably early on Saturday morning as it is going to be a fairly long day driving down to Malaga - so much so that I think we are going to have to split the drive and find somewhere to stay overnight on Saturday night along the way and only get down to Malaga on Sunday sometime.

Ignacio arrived at 8.45 to take us on a walk and talk around Madrid - thank goodness our hotel is so centrally located. It was so interesting listening to him telling us the history of so many of the squares and statues - much better that the recorded voice on the tour bus !!!! He took us to two tapas bars and we had some tapas at the first bar and then went to a second tapas bar where we had a few more - while they were tasty I don’t know that I would like to eat like that too often - it was mostly fried and came dripping in olive oil !!!!!!

He also showed us some short cuts to the squares which came in very handy today. We ate in the tradition of the Spaniards - at about 11.00 but it was closer to 12.30 before we were finished and they still hadn’t brought one of the dishes that we had ordered so he cancelled the order and we walked home through another square.

The weather was great although a little chilly when we set out this morning - so much so that we all landed up with our jackets on. It warmed up later in the afternoon but it wasn’t nearly as hot as yesterday. When we left the tapas to come home, the three of us landed up putting our jackets on again but Ignacio was just in his shirt sleeves.

It was close to 1.30am by the time we got home and rolled into bed - very happy to have such comfortable hotel beds and happy that we had had such a great day and an even better evening.

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