A Day in Madrid

July 17, 2018 - Madrid, Spain


I have just written this, and the next day, on the plane between Madrid and Doha. Forgive the blunders, the illiteracy and the continuing lack of pictures.

Tuesday 17th July A Day in Madrid

As usual David had been for a walk before breakfast, this time up the Gran Via to the park. I can’t actually remember breakfast, except to say that it was another buffet like all the others we have had in ‘chain’ hotels – an extensive buffet with what I suppose is an attempt to cater for all tastes and cultures. Nothing I have had before or since compares to breakfast at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi.

Sarah had arranged to meet Matt, Rachel, Sophie and Hannah in the Plaza Mayor at 12, but before that I wanted to find Punt Roma and introduce the others to it. I set off confidently in the wrong direction along Gran Via, having forgotten how to orient myself with the Hotel Gran Via where Max and I stayed in 2015. Eventually I set us right, but one look at Punt Roma convinced Lucie that Oysho next door was more enticing so she and Sarah set off there while Sue Jackie and I pottered happily for a bit before I bought a skirt and some pants. David patiently watched the world parade by along Gran Via.

Eventually we all joined up again, Lucie looking very pretty in new shorts and a brown top. We had hardly gone a few steps before Lucie noticed that her top still had the security tag attached, so she went back to the shop, and Sue went after her to help. Just as well, because although Lucie approached the counter to point out what had happened, the very grumpy sole woman dealing with all the customers sent her back to the end of the long queue. Once they got to the top, it was discovered that although Sarah had paid for the other things, the person serving them had overlooked the top. She told Lucie she had to take it off and go back outside topless to find Sarah. Even when Sue turned up and offered to pay cash on the spot, the grumpy woman sent them to the back of the long queue again. Like I always say, give someone a little bit of power, and they’ll use it – usually to your disadvantage if they’re feeling grumpy.

This adventure was in fact related to us about twenty minutes later when they emerged just as we were getting seriously worried that they had been kidnapped in the shop.

We straggled along in the heat and reached the Plaza del Sol where we sat on the edge of the fountain to rest a bit – Matt had texted to say they would be a bit late. I wandered around a bit and when I rejoined the party I found them talking to a young man with a guitar and a sheaf of papers they were all poring over. It seems he was a musician/composer and had written a song in Spanish then used Google to translate it into predictably hilarious English. After struggling to get the meaning we all had a go at making it more idiomatic for him, and soon he was thanking us profusely and rushing off, as we gathered, to introduce his band to their new song.

Now it was time to make our way the block or so along to the Plaza Mayor, and after having our photos taken individually beside a very persistent Roman Gladiator, we found a shady restaurant with green gingham tablecloths and ordered drinks. Sarah, who had only been in Spain for a few hours, nevertheless knew how to order a caffe frio con leche, which she did for herself and me while the others had soft drinks. I was surprised to be given a small cup of hot flat white coffee and a large glass almost full of ice cubes. The idea was to pour the coffee into the glass, and in fact it turned out to be a nice iced coffee, although lacking ice cream.

Shortly after this ‘the Canadians’ arrived and after greeting each other with the appropriate hugs or introductions, Matt confessed to having confused the Plaza Mayor with some other Mayor on the map. More drinks, much chat, more walking – this time towards the park and the Prado – before finding another café for lunch. Of course we had to join a number of tables together to accommodate the 10 of us, and I can’t remember what we all ate – I’ve not been nearly as good as Max as retaining these important pieces of information.

After a certain amount of dithering and consultation and mind-changing about our visit to the Prado, it was eventually agreed that David and I would go off on our own and the others would spend varying by shorter times in the Museum before going to the Park (I think it is actually the Botanic Gardens which are virtually beside the Prado.

I have found that, for me, the best thing to do is decide on what I want to see in a Gallery or Museum, and spend my time slowly taking in what I have chosen. Of course this has the disadvantage of necessitating going past a lot of lovely things without looking at them, but the advantage of avoiding spectator burn-out. I wandered through the El Greco collection, then went back to Las Maninas by Velasquez which Max and I concentrated on during our 1915 visit as we had previously watched a documentary on it.

I met up with David at the appointed time – he had enjoyed some Dutch interiors. Thanks to our electronic connections, we found the others – except sitting on the grass in the shade, and close to the lake in the Gardens. I watched the boats and ducks on, and the fish in, the lake for a while, some ice creams were had by some, Sophie and Hannah climbed a tree, and eventually we were all ready to set of back to our respective hotels to rest a bit before dinner.

Sarah was keen to come back to the Prado with me to see what my rabbiting on about Las Maninas was all about, and as entry is free between 6 and 8 (it was now just on 6) we went back by ourselves only to be met by one of the longest queues either of us has ever seen – we couldn’t even see the end of it in the distance. So we got a taxi back to the hotel instead.

‘The Canadians’ were staying at a hotel near the airport and travelling by the metro so we decided to meet them at Tribunal at 8.I did a bit of research on Trip Advisor and it looked as if the best bet for dinner was a place called Madrid M…(?).. Sarah took the opportunity to send emails to the family about dinner at the Villa tomorrow, suggesting what everyone should buy to ensure it was properly organised. Sue, Jackie, David and Sarah went up to the terrace for a drink, but I had left it a bit late to join them. We walked up to Tribunal past some interesting clothes shops, but with no time to explore them.

We each chose a dish to share, and of course ended up with too much. It was nice, but not as good as what we had had the night before. We did enjoy being together, though, psrticularly as it gave Lucie, Sophie and Hannah time to get to know each other better.

We walked home about 11, then Lucie and I chatted for quite a while, and showed each other various exercises we enjoyed doing. She showed me how to do a ‘plank’ which I will have to incorporate into my routine when I get home, assuming I am still capable of doing any exercises at all by that time. She is absolutely amazingly flexible – a real dancer.




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