Wednesday, October 23, 2013

madrid in a day

Madrid was two busses and a metro ride away.  By the time we got into the centre the temperature was already more than warm.  Joy’s thing was to stop and have a cappuchino ( I never checked how to spell one) and a cigarette whenever she needed to take stock of the day, so, on arrival that’s what we did.  Not having a guide book or even a map by then, we decided to wander through the streets and discover what we found.  Not a plan that would work in London, but within twenty minutes we’d stumbled into the main square, past a pasty shop selling the most delicious looking wares and found the main tourist office.  Equipped with touristic map we continued, checking out the shops and sights as we went.  I’m sure that all the tourist gifts are made in the same factory in China, I’ve seen the same things available on three continents, all minorly modified to be seemingly local.  I didn’t need anything but it never seems to stop a good browse.  A great shop with a window full of crisps, loose crisps in a huge container. I expect you could buy them by the sack load or individually depending on your immediate requirements.  We followed the map, cappuchino by cappuchino, taking in churches and bridges, buildings or architectural note, housing galleries and museums, bridges and views highlighted on the map.  We never found the pasty shop again so lunch was from a back street bakers, some interesting and tasty savory and sweet pastries eaten in a shady park below the cathedral. The temperature moderated our going in the afternoon, it was hot, and the botanic gardens a welcome calm after the busy streets and arcades of the city.  But we had to continue, by late afternoon we had had enough so we stopped and had a meal,  the spanish probably thought we were having lunch, but it was easily late enough to be an early dinner, it was still hot and there were still a metro and two bus rides back to the campsite.  Followed, at the other end by a longer than short walk through some dark woods to find the campsite and Percy again.  Madrid was great, a tidy, small capital city with beautiful buildings and a swanky upmarket feel, I liked it and would go back for another look, but definitely feel more at home in the more arty and relaxed Barcelona.

street art magic

choose your pasty here

impressive town hall

crisps by the kilo

cathedral, completed only twenty or so years ago

Joy posing outside a large and fancy building

neptune doing his stull in the middle of a roundabout

the calm of the botanic garden

vertical gardening in the city

Zaragza to Madrid

municipal campsite with apartment blocks in the distance

the smartest shower blocks I've seen so far

vast, arid scenery

more vast, arid scenery

After some good going early on, we missed out a stop and continued into the capital.  Our roads had been dual carriage way, fast and straight but quite boring to drive.  Optimum speed 53mph for fuel consumption gave us plenty of time to enjoy the endless plains of central spain.  The landscape in late summer was very dry, flat (on a large scale) interspersed with deep, fairly steep sided valleys and gorges, the agriculture varied and lush in the low lying, moister areas and rough pasture, scrub land  and a bit of grain up high.  With us being so quick, we decided that a day in Madrid would be good so we booked into the campsite for two nights, I took a dip in the pool before relaxing in the warm evening air.

after Barcelone

Where was I last?  Barcelona, that seems like an age ago, it probably is, come to think about it, the weeks fly by and the nights are drawing in again and I’ve moved on and on and on.

Joy and I crossed Spain with Percy at a speedy pace, managing to spend three nights with my brother before he headed back to England.  Our journey was enlightening, I had never seen much of Spain before, so it was all new.  We drove most of the first day avoiding motorways with tolls but on fairly fast dual carriage ways and got to Zaragoza mid afternoon, we stopped once en route to check out a crazy housing development and also took photos of the scenery as it flew by.  We booked into the campsite and then took a ride into town to see a few sites.  To the town centre was easy, Percy and I are getting more accustomed to city driving, the traffic, pedestrians and amazingly uninformative road signs that we had been warned about.  But where to park?  we circled the old town for a good hour, all the opportunities were height restricted and frequently underground, something I hadn’t really encountered before.  Further out, we discovered other car parks but all full and decidedly difficult to manouveur in .  We aborted our attempt to visit   returned to the camp site, cooked on board and checked out the plan for the following day.  Next time we’ll take the bus into town.