The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – Madrid, and the Hop on Hop off Bus

Next morning Kerry wanted to catch up on her sleep so I ventured out on my own. I decided to see where our road led to (anticipating that I could find my way to Plaza Mayor eventually). So up the street past Plaza Nelson Mandela (Yes we are in a predominantly African neighbourhood), past La Morgue, and Taberna Tirso de Molina and past Tirso de Molina Metro, left, past the big chair, and suddenly I am into one of the connecting streets to Plaza Mayor (15 minutes). From there I went to Puerto del Sol and caught the hop on hop off bus again to visit some of the places I had seen on Tuesday. I caught the blue line to start with and went down to the national Museum for Art passing a “green” wall at least 4 stories high, viewing the rail station or at least the departure platforms added onto the old station. I was trying to find a building with a carillon and view the glockenspiel like parade in the carillon but found this other unusual display of powder and wig costumes instead – I am still on the hunt for the carillon. I chanced my luck on foot in the traffic to get a picture of Neptune in the centre of a roundabout, chanced upon Plaza Margaret Thatcher (some might say that the Fascists still rule in Spain), the display of sculptures under an overpass, the non de script HQ of the Armed Forces of Spain, before arriving at the stadium – Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid.

Then I jumped on board the bus again to go to Plaza de Colon (I am sure it means something different in Spanish). The plaza is the roof top of a large car park which uses camera and radio technology to allow cars to enter and pay for the parking without stopping for a ticket fumbling with change or finding out your credit card has expired. The surface is parkland with an unusual sculpture/memorial to all the sailor/ adventurers of Spanish history. It also provided me with the best view of a memorial to Columbus which also has the names of all of his crew written upon it. A copy/ duplicate of the memorial is somewhere in New York. Note the contrast between the memorial and the office block behind it. I had completed the sites I wanted to visit so I went back to the apartment to see how Kerry was getting on.

After a bite to eat I dragged her through the path I had discovered to the centre of town. This time I took a slightly different path ending up at San Gines Chocolateria. Here they serve churros and hot chocolate and have done so since 1894. It’s not a sweet chocolate but after 6 sticks of churros I had enough. Hallowen is a big thing over here as is shown by this display on a building in the city centre. They are getting ready for Xmas too. We boarded the bus and went to the Temple of Debod a gift to Spain for its help to Egypt with saving the buildings in the Aswan Valley. From here we got great views of the Palace and the Cathedral. But we made the mistake of deciding to walk through the gardens – two hours later we arrived at the crypt under the Cathedral for Santa María la Real de la Almudena. It was very imposing. Many of Portugal’s wealthy families have buried their dead here. Then there is the cathedral containing the “The Estela de la Almudena” a great work, chiselled in silver, made ​​by the goldsmith Manuel Carrera and his team. This is a Work of Art, and the epitome of an art which unfortunately has disappeared due to the lack of craftsmen. Once again beautiful stone work and treasures locked up in honour of a dead saint.  As we left the cathedral we noticed this ancient olive tree standing alone. That’s enough for today so we waited for the hop on hop off bus to take us back to the Opera Metro. Due to road closures it was delayed so we walked finding Gepetta’s a wooden puppet shop and not much further we found San Miguel mercado picked up dinner and then went home via the Metro without the hop on hop off bus.

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Retired Australian Lawyer having worked representing the innocent and the not so innocent in Australia and some of the remote parts of the world and having travelled widely through Europe, Western Russia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand Malaysia Solomon Islands northern China, Hong Kong and the UAE So now that I have the time I am writing about my travels present and past. Hope you enjoy exploring off the beaten track.