Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Madrid 19th September 2007

This morning we were all awake quite early despite the late night last night and so were up and moving by 7.30. My legs had improved tremendously so decided not to worry about a doctor. Unfortunately the bakery across the road wasn’t open so we couldn’t get our croissants before we starting exploring. The bus did not start until 9.30am so we decided to just walk to where we wanted to go until the buses were running.

Our first stop was the Royal Palace - we were very disappointed to find out that there was an official function on today so no visitors were allowed. We took some photos of the outside - once again, the architecture and the amount of work that has gone into the adornments on the buildings is just amazing - each time we go and I see the buildings, it never ceases to amaze me at the amount of work which has gone into each building. I just love the feel and the look of the city.

After the Royal Palace we stopped at the Sabatini Gardens. This is where Alan got the timer on the camera to work for the first time and we had great fun watching him set up and then run to get in the photo - the good thing is that is means that we can have some photos of all three of us and not make them all ‘two people’ photographs. What a clever boy !!!!

From there we walked to Templo de Debod and took some photos there - again, what a lovely park with lots of trees and shady spots for people to enjoy during the day. I keep being amazed at the number of gardens and parks and the number of tree lined streets which there are in Madrid - it is so beautiful to be able to walk down a street, in the shade, because of all the lovely trees during the heat of the day (of course in the early morning when the sun hasn’t come up and the wind is blowing it is bloody cold but you can’t have it both ways can you ?)

Once we were finished at Templo de Debod, we found a little bakery (who would have thought !!!) across the street where we got some breakfast. While walking to the bus stop, we saw the funniest parking - well I shouldn’t say funny - more like strangest parking - Kaitlin was so amazed she took photos (see photos from Madrid 19092007) - the first one - there must have been about 1cm gap between the two cars. Most cars here seem to have lots of dents and scratches and we are sure they all park by sound - when they hit the car behind (or in front) they stop !!!! About 4 parking spaces down the road, we saw a car which was only half in the parking because he (definitely not a she driver !!!!) couldn’t fit completely in the parking !!!!! He was actually touching front and back (see photos from Madrid 19092007 for this scenario). We laughed about that for ages down the road. Not long afterwards we saw a crane, in a one lane one-way street - stop, put down the stabilisers and off-load a whole bunch of stuff - making a huge traffic jam behind the truck - people were hooting and shouting and they just kept off-loading, then when they were finished, some chap came out and was arguing about where they had off-loaded the stuff so one guy from the truck was arguing with him while the other pulled up the stabilisers and then they both jumped into the truck and drove off. It was just amazing to watch the whole thing happen. Everyone then started their cars and drove off !!!

After that we jumped on the bus and went to the Prado Museum - there were a couple of artists which we wanted to see - Goya, Rembrandt, Reubens and (I can’t remember the other one) - I now know why I never did art at school (apart from the fact that I battle to draw a straight line with a ruler) - I really wasn’t impressed with what we saw - am glad it didn’t cost us too much to get in !!!!!!! It was strange to see paintings which I felt were rather out of proportion and hands and feet which I am sure could have been done better and sometimes the colours and shading weren’t too flash either - now I guess that the fact that some of those paintings are hundreds of years old may have something to do with it - maybe the colours were good when they were painted but have deteriorated over the years - I don’t know - but I definitely wouldn’t be dashing off to any other art exhibition except in Malaga where Picasso’s grand-daughter donated a lot of her paintings to be hung in a gallery there as he was born there.

Last night Ignacio gave us a very well put together list of things to do in Barcelona and then on the way to Malaga and in and around Malaga as that is his home town and he obviously knows the area very well. So we certainly have our next 10 days very well planned and we know that we won’t be missing out on anything which we should see.

After the Prado Museum we were going to go to the botanical gardens but had to pay to get into there so decided to go to the bigger gardens a little further up the road - have photos of the ‘pond’ there as well as one of the fountains.

After that and another bus ride on the blue route, we decided to come back to the room - not for a siesta but to catch up on labelling the photos from yesterday and today. After doing that we went back down to the road which runs past the Royal Palace as Al wanted some more photos of Madrid !!!!! Then we seemed to wander around for a while - going to a few more squares which by now were extremely busy with people leaving work and wandering around. They have people busking in all the squares and most cafes and restaurants have outside tables for people to sit at and eat - it is just such a different way of life to what we are used to both in Australia and South Africa. It is very much like Taiwan from this aspect - lots of outdoor community living.

We decided to go without dinner tonight as none of us were really hungry so instead we had Ben and Jerry’s (ice-cream) and then came back to the hotel at about 9pm - ready to have a shower, pack and have everything ready for our 6.30am start tomorrow. This is going to be a real CrankyPants test - driving on the wrong side of the road in a manual car and not really knowing where we are going but relying on Gloria (the GPS) to get us to Barcelona !!!! Today we each a CrankyPants moment but they passed soon enough which was good - would hate to spoil all the fun we have been having with too many CrankyPants moments !!!! But, I suppose having the three of us live in one room and spend every waking moment together (no Kaitlin hasn’t been allowed to go shopping by herself !!) will lead to a few tense moments in the 28 days we are away !!!

Well, the two little darlings are now asleep and it is time for me to say good-night. Maybe when we are in Barcelona we will have a chance to get to an internet café to upload some mail - otherwise it will just have to wait until we get home.


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