Last Day in Madrid

Today – Thursday 6 – we have said our farewells to Madrid. We have done lots of washing so we can start off clean as we begin to travel around Spain. We have also finalised our blogs so we start anew. We have decided we will take a slightly different approach from now, and write a blog for each city – rather than each day. We are going to be on the move with sometimes only 2 days in a place, so will want to maximise our time ‘out there’, not sitting documenting our adventures. It will still aim at being a diary of our trip which we will value – and hope you will enjoy.

So we set off around midday and did a big circuit, passing in Plaza del Sol the beautiful sculpture of the Emblem of Madrid (today’s feature image) – the Standing Bear eating from a strawberry tree – which dates back to 1222 AD.

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Perfect day of around 23 degrees, sun out, no wind. We wandered along taking lots of photos, and Alan even ended up having a go on a Segway – I think they are called that in Oz too. A fellow was giving trial runs – hoping of course that you would hire one for a while. Al found he soon got the hang of it. You can see he’s pretty pleased in the photo.

Along the way we passed the Madrid Opera House which is under renovation as you can see.  Outside in Plaza de Isabel II is the Queen of Spain (1833 – 1868) herself.

Palacio Real

We ended up at the Palacio Real in the Royal area, where the Bourbon kings lived – but not the present one. He prefers to live with his family in the Palacio de Zarzuela outside Madrid.

The palace was built on the site of the Alcazar, the 9th century Muslim castle which burnt down in 1734. The new Bourbon palace was built immediately and completed by 1764, apparently inspired by Bernini’s designs for the Louvre. The façade is just beautiful and the setting is fantastic with a view of park and woodland stretching as far as El Escorial. Although it is apparently packed with terrific stuff, we did not go in as we were feeling like a day outside. Opposite the front gate is the Cathedral of Madrid – a good demonstration of the historic relationship between church and state. It is fairly modern.

Lunch at Casa Pepe

We continued walking until we arrived just after 3pm at a lunch spot we had tried on our very first day. We were greeted by the Romanian waitress like long time friends. The meal was as good if not better than the first. We have photographed the menu. The best dishes were pimentos stuffed with salmon, and stewed artichokes – the latter to die for. The name of the place in case you are ever here is Casa Pepe in Madrid. It is at Ronda de Valencia 16.  Highly recommended.

A further walk home, noticing how everything outside the tourist areas is closed down at 4.30pm!  Managed also to snap for the record our apartment block at Calle de la Montera, 45 – the grey and pink block in the centre.

We are now getting ourselves ready to be out by 7.30am tomorrow, for Salamanca. This is the first of our Rail Pass journeys, which is the way we will travel for the rest of our time in Spain.  Given our false start to Toledo yesterday, we did check our rail tickets only to discover that the Pass needed to be stamped and validated at a railway ticket office.  A quick trip out again and down to the Plaza Sol Renfe (rail) centre fixed that in no time and has enabled us to relax.

So – a very fond farewell to Madrid.

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