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Embedded Photos: 1.Lucifer Statue, Parque del Retiro 2.Palacio de Cristal 3.Palacio del Velazquez 4.Monument to Alfonso XII 5.Cafe Ferpal
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Spanish Flag SPAIN


March 25. MADRID  Hontonares had already become our "breakfast place" and the same waiter recognized us.  We tried churros and chocolate for breakfast, a rich way to start the day but very popular.  The tasty but greasy churros were typically Lucifer, Madrid, Spain dipped into a cup of hot chocolate, a thick chocolate that tasted like pudding, or into a coffee.  Spain was clearly not gong to be a place to loose weight!

The sun was shining and we intended to maximize the good weather by walking as much of Madrid as we could.  We started in Sol, where a large ceremony was taking place to honor the emergency workers who helped in the Madrid bombings.  The seats lined up in front of the officious looking building were packed with people in uniform.  We continued our walk towards the grand Plaza Mayor.  The beauty of the plaza was somewhat marred by the large tent erected in the middle for a stamp collectors convention but it was still a beautiful place.   The highlight of the plaza, built in 1619, was actually the rather recently repainted Casa de la Panaderia.  The building was once headquarters of the bakers' guild and was already rebuilt in 1672 after a fire.  The murals on the building had faded so badly that in 1992 the facade was repainted in colorful allegories of the zodiac signs.  The imposing statue of Felipe III standing in the middle of the square against the backdrop of the Casa de la Panaderia was postcard perfect. 

The square had been host to markets, open-air theater, bull fights, executions, and tournaments but today is a quiet and relaxing place surrounding by a few cafes.  One interesting cafe-bar specialized in bullfight memorabilia and had a gruesome collection of photos taken of the sport, including gored legs and men on stretchers.  It was a pastime that I didn't quite understand.

From the Plaza Mayor we walked back up to Calle Mayor to have lunch at the same little sandwich place.  Continuing down Calle Mayor we experienced the wide range of Madrid's architectural history from Art Nouveau to Art DecoPalacio del Cristal, Madrid, Spain to modern.  When we reached the massive Neptune fountain at the crossing with the Paseo del Prado we turned right and walked down the Paseo, enjoying its beautiful green promenade, passing the famous Prado Museum (saving that for a rainy day).  At the end we encountered the grand Estacion de Atocha, construction was under way in front.  It was one of locations of the Madrid bombings.  We turned left, past the botanical gardens.  The sloping street was lined with book stalls.  Books shops were throughout the streets of Madrid.  In the center we came across another little old shop with tables of book pouring out into the streets.  Past the garden and books stalls we came to an entrance to Madrid's massive Parque  del Retiro.  

We took our time walking through the spacious park, enjoying the sun and relaxing, napping on a bench.  Even during the afternoon on a Thursday there were a good number of people enjoying the park - jogging, walking, boating.  Amidst of the vast expanse of green there were a number of sights to see within the park itself.  There was a peculiar statue of Lucifer, said to be the only statue dedicated to the "fallen angel".  It was painful and sad, it almost made you feel sorry for him.  Towards the middle of the park was the Palacio de Cristal, a glass covered building that housed modern art exhibits.  A lake with spouting fountains reflected its image.  We sat there for a good half hour, soaking up the sun.  Not far away and it complete architectural contrast stood the yellow brick and tile Palacio de Velazquez which housed an interesting exhibit of photographs by a German artist, Axel Palacio del Velazquez, Madrid, SpainHutte.  But, it was the Estanque, boating lake, and the austere curved colonnade surrounding the Monument to Alfonso XII that was the highlight of the park.  A few people were quietly paddling through the lake, music from street musicians filled the air, and lounging madrilenos were stretched on the steps beneath the monument.        

Leaving the park we walked back towards the Paseo del Prado, where a traffic circle rounded the giant Fountain of Cybele.  The Cybele Fountain and Neptune Fountain on Paseo del Prado have been adopted by fans of the two Madrid football (soccer) teams.  It has become a custom for the Real Madrid fans to flock to the Cybele Fountain when their team wins while the Atletico de Madrid fans flock to the Neptune Fountain.  The Calle de Alcala that continued back towards the center of the city featured some of Madrid's most impressive buildings. Unfortunately, one of the most beautiful, the Metropolis was covered for restoration work.  We made our  way back to Sol and stopped in our Art Deco decorated hotel cafe for a couple of coffees and a grilled pork sandwich.

Determined to have chocolate and churros at the Chocolateria San Gines we waited for it to open.  The hours were a bit vague but when we went by and saw the lights on and door partway rolled up we figured opening time wasn't far away.  We killed some time at the Corte Ingles before staking out a position besides the front door, looking longingly through the window.  A French man came up behind us, followed by a larger French group.  When it finally came time for cafe to open I pulled open the door and the French man behind us zipped inside and said "Thank you" as I stood unwillinglyMonument to Alfonso XII holding the door for him.  We sat a good distance from his group.  There were plenty of seats so there was really no need for such obnoxious behavior.  The chocolateria had a charming old atmosphere. Churros and chocolate were about all they did and they did it well.   That finished our day and we headed back to the apartment.  

March 26. MADRID The weather turned bad again on Friday.  I was starting to come down with a flu bug so I just stayed in the apartment and worked on the journal.  Rob went to visit the Palacio Real but found it sold out for the afternoon and just spent some more time in down town Madrid before coming back to the apartment. We ventured out to find a new place to eat dinner and ended up in a busy place not far from the apartment that served up decent combination plates.  They were sold out of the dishes we originally ordered by the man patiently came out from behind the counter and pointed to the items on the menu that were still left.  The menu translator in my dictionary came in pretty handy since many dishes were very standard across Spanish cafeterias.

We were in heaving using the Internet access at Jose's apartment.  The frustrations of slow connections at grimy Internet cafes had us almost forgetting what it was like to work at normal speeds.  We were busy typing away when Jose Luis arrived home very late from London. 


SPAIN Madrid Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25-26 Mar 27-30 Granada Mar 31 April 1-28 Semana Santa Part I Part II Photos I Photos II Photos III Photos IV The Alhambra Part I Part II Part III Part IV


MOROCCO Chefchaouen April 30 May 1 Fes May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 6 Meknes May 7 May 8 May 9 Sahara May 10-11 May 12 May 13-14 May 15 Marrakesh May 16