- Start of my personal journey!
- Life on the edge of the lake!
- In the Alps!
- Life on the edge of the lake!
- Last few days in Switzerland. Spain, here I come!
- Arrival in Barcelona
- First day of the tour!
- Exploring Barcelona city
- Petty Theft and Roman Relics!
- Hemingway, bulls, Bayonne and crummy French motel
- From topless bathing to Basque culture
- Art and non-art, tapas and pintxos
- Spain out of World Cup; King abdicates!
- Fiesta in Leon
- Glimpse of Lisbon and Cataplana in Coimbra
- A glimpse into pilgrims and hostals
- Stuck in parking garage in Madrid?
- Breakfast, culture and dinner feasts!
- Hanging houses and crazy plazas
- Don Quichote’s world
- Moors, Christians, Romans and ‘chiringuitos’
- Sinfully delightful day on the beach!
- Dancing in a cave with the gypsies!
- Dining with dockworkers and police!
- Beautiful city!
- End of the journey
- ‘Bon Dia!’ Portugal, ‘Hola!̶
- Parking, port and Porto!
- Oysters, sardines and plastic hammers!
Today we covered all the landmarks that I had earmarked for our attention.
But first, what a breakfast buffet. The pictures give a very good idea of the types of food served for breakfast in Madrid.
Maryln and I walked to the nearby Puerto del Sol (“Gate of the Sun”) to catch the HoHo bus to the Prado museum, while Herb and Judy preferred to walk. Puerto del Sol is on the square at the heart of Madrid, considered to be the center of the radial network of Spanish roads. Its famous clock signals the beginning of New Year, also celebrated with the eating of the Twelve Grapes: one for each ring of the bells.
The Prado Museum houses nearly 7,000 paintings, including masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian and Goya. We entered the museum through the Goya entrance on the upper level to view the Renaissance and Baroque Italian paintings, Rubens, El Greco, Velazquez, Goya’s two Majas, the Family of Charles 1V and down stairs to the gory Black paintings by El Greco. There were two special exhibits, one of Rubens’ commissions for tapestries, and a very interesting one showing El Greco’s influence on different painters world-wide.
Maryln and I then proceeded to the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) on Calle de Bailén. This palace gave us an excellent insight into the history of Spanish Royalty. It is no longer a Royal residence but used mainly for State functions. Of the more than 3,000 elaborately decorated rooms, only a handful are open to the public. We saw amongst others the Throne Room, Royal Chapel, Gasparini Room, Porcelain Room (created by King Charles 111) and the Stradivarius Room where a collection of four Stradivarius instruments (a viola, a violoncello, and two violins) is exhibited in. It is estimated that this Spanish Quartet has a value of 100 million euros!
We were exhausted after all the walking and took a taxi back to the hotel so that we could be ready for the evening’s shenanigans! We had a table booked for Casa Botin,, a restaurant housed in a sixteenth century building in the old part of Madrid.
We walked through the Plaza Mayor built during the 16th century Habsburg period. The Plaza has a total of nine entranceways and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with 237 balconies facing the Plaza. Our restaurant was close by.
The restaurant boasts a certificate by the Guinness Book of Records stating that it is the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725. Goya supposedly worked here before becoming a painter and Hemingway was a frequent visitor and pronounced it one of his favourite restaurants.
We sampled its specialities: cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) and cordero asado (roast lamb). It really is a must when visiting Spain’s capital.