Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Madrid in August

Where Did Everyone Go?

We are Phoenician's. We are used to thermonuclear summer days and evenings. So when all of the travel guides advise against visiting Madrid in August we laugh. Like Paris, Madrid just empties out in August - Castilians escape by the trainload to all points north or to their beautiful Iberian beaches.

Bear and Madrono Tree 
(The Heraldic Symbol of Madrid)
At the Puerta del Sol
(Madrid's Gate of the Sun)

So what does that leave for a contrarian tourist visiting Madrid in August? Well - super discounted seats in business class and plush hotel rooms at deep discounts.

Works for me.

Anyway, when we arrived we found Madrid's lush green shade trees everywhere in profusion. We found water splashing from its sparkling fountains. The stunning Prado could be visited sans any queue. Ditto the regal Palacio Real de Madrid. And getting anywhere on the Metro? It was easy, cheap and had empty trains at 5:30 PM. Yep, every train, going any direction.

King Philip IV 
Equestrian Fountain
Plaza de Oriente
(Bronze Weight Distribution Engineered by Galileo) 

This trip we took all of our first day to visit The Prado. This is Spain's most important art museum. Nowhere else on earth will you find such a collection of all of the European masters plus the definitive collection of El Greco and Goya.  It deserves a day. But, with jet lag and all we made it about 3 hours and then started to walk into walls. We returned to the hotel, hit the Concierge Lounge, and slept for 13 hours straight.

Today we strolled. I mostly looked up and photographed building tops. Miss M looked out and watched the passing parade of humanity.

Why I Look Up!

We climbed to the new observation deck at the CentroCentro Arts Building. We stopped to watch street performers, enjoyed amazing smoothies at the Mercado San Miguel, and visited Spain's Palacio Real de Madrid.

The largest palace in Europe, containing 2800 rooms and coming in a fuzz under 1.5 Million SF. Many ornate rooms are on display, but the Royal Armoury, with its display of equestrian suits of armor, alone was worth the admission. Alas no photos allowed. The palace is used almost exclusively for state ceremonies.

Our day ended at the old Attoche Rail Station, now home to a huge tropical garden. Great place for a glass of Spanish wine. 

Madrid From the Observation Deck of the 
New CentroCentro Arts Center  

The Palacio Real de Madrid


Summer Fruits,

Fresh Seafood, 

and Fine Spanish Ham
Abound in the Lovely Restored Mercado San Miguel

A headless Human Statue Charms Kids 
at Plaza Mayor

Lots of culture, great food and drink, and a total break from relentless presidential political coverage! News flash! The rest of the world thinks we're dopes for our endless campaigns! Duh!

Tomorrow on to Lisbon!

Roadboy's Travels © 2012

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