My trip from Santiago, by the fast ALVI train was flawless and I arrived at the Chamartin RENFRE train station early in the afternoon. The train was absolutely full. I was very pleased to hear an announcement as we pulled into the station that the long distance ticket was also good for transfer to a local train. After enquiring at the information booth upon arrival I discovered that one of the local trains went to the city centre, the Plaza Sol, very near my hotel.
The hotel was quite adequate but a bit of a workout at 3 floors up from ground level. I guess I can't really complain though, it is clean and comfortable and even a tiny balcony to the street below- a pedestrian walkway. The area is really in the centre of everything. I enjoyed the many mines and street artists, particularly the Michael Jackson tribute artist who was performing below my balcony last night.
I was able to get out and do a bit of sightseeing on Tuesday and took a ride on one of the the hop on hop off buses, which for 25 EUR I think a good deal. For the money I got 2 days of transportation and a narrative describing sights over two routes, one 80 min long and the other 65 min long. I tend to do this sort of tour whenever it is available, to give me a good overview of the sights to be seen before I set out to see anything in more detail.
During my evening tour the bus had to divert as there was a massive demonstration going on, which had closed some very major roads as the demonstrators marched through the centre of the city. In fact the demonstrators chad marched over to the Plaza Sol by the end of the evening. I read afterwards that the demonstration was against a new law taking effect July 1st. This law would outlaw any public protests conducted around government buildings unless the organizers had previously received permission for the gathering/demonstration. I guess liberty and freedoms at in jeopardy everywhere these days, not just in Canada.
I spent the next morning doing the tour of the 2nd route and in that tour discovered that there was a building by the Neptune fountain, across from the Prada Museum, which had a special clock display at 12:00 noon. After the bus tour finished I headed over there to see (and hear) the action. It was pretty neat, after the bells range in the noon hour they played a little tune while figures came out on the balcony and danced around. After that, I headed for the Prada Museum, where they had a special Picasso exhibit. It was good to be in th A/c in the afternoon as temperatures again were peaking around 38 in the shade.
|The prettiest side of Plaza Mayor|
|The Building with the special clock|
|Figures dancing at noon|
In a lot of ways Madrid reminds me of a Havana, but of course Havana has let all it's wonderful buildings deteriorate where Madrid has kept theirs restored and refurbished. Havana has a Prada street also, with a wide pedestrian walkway between the opposing lanes of traffic.
|The Prada Museum|
I spent a few hours wandering through the gallery admiring the art works.
|Parque de el Retiro|
|Even the trees were well manicured.|
There was a large cement pond and boat rentals, under the watchful eyes of a statue of Alfonso XII.
Lots of water attractions, but no swimming.
You can see Puerto De Alcala just beyond the park. None of the city walls have been kept in Madrid, but all of the gates are still where they originally stood.
I am off home tomorrow morning. Thanks to the great transit system here I can get to the airport easily on the subway. I am off to bed now - I have stayed up much later than I normally do just to get this blog done. Once I am back to reality, there will be a dog to fetch and friends and family to visit and so it will be a few days before I blog again. But within a few days I will resume my Toronto blog, which has been sorely neglected for far too long.