After arriving in Madrid and having some lunch we headed to the metro station to buy a ticket from the machine and took the metro to the city. After a bit of confusion we worked it out and it was quite simple in the end. After one change on the metro we were in the centre and then made our way to the tourist information office where they gave us city maps and walking tour guides. Online we found out about the free walking tours which we have done in other places and we booked for the Wednesday. While strolling the streets we saw a Segway tour advertised and booked that for the Tuesday. Our first afternoon in Madrid was just to get our bearings and see how easy it was to get in and out, so after a few hours we headed back to have a quiet evening ready for the next two busy days ahead.
Segway and Prado
Tuesday 25th August. After our trial run the day before it was an easy trip into the centre of the city. We had booked a 90 minute Segway tour. Apart from being a load of fun the Segway’s allow you to see more in shorter time with less effort as well as the guide shows you places that could be missed if exploring on your own. This was our second Segway tour the first being in Bratislava last year. It is like riding a bike, once we hopped back on they are easy to use and after a few minutes practice we were off. Our group was very small with only another couple and the tour guide. The time went quickly but we covered a lot of ground and got the feel of the city.
The main art museum in Madrid is the Prado, I suppose all the learned people reading this blog would have known this, I confess I didn’t. We were told it is a must do thing when in Madrid, so who am I to go against the trend. We took our time getting to the Prado as it was on the other side of the old town and we took some back streets to get away from the tourist areas, as well as stopping along the way at a pub for beer and a snack.
Arriving at the museum at about 4 p.m. we bought our tickets for 14 euros and went to check out the artwork. With over 75 rooms of artwork and masterpieces from Rubens, Goya, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Raphael, Van Dyk just to name a few. There was also some Picasso paintings on loan from another museum.
We spent over three hours in the Prado with a coffee break in between and after a while you get sensory overload so we couldn’t take in any more for the day. We had been through the upper level and only half of the bottom level. If you plan a trip to Madrid plan the visit the Prado twice, it is also free to enter from 6 till 8 in the evening. You knew when it was 6 as the crowds poured in.
Tired from a busy day it was back to the “Bunyip” for a quiet evening.
Free Walking Tour
Wednesday. In many other cities we have taken the Free Walking Tour, although it says free the concept is that they charge no fees but at the end of the tour you give them whatever you think is a fair price. Our tour started near the metro station called Opera at 10.30.
At first we thought we would be the only people in the English group but when we started there were 4 American’s and 6 Philippino’s. Our tour guide had studied acting and the guiding was his full time job, he really did a good job of explaining the landmarks and history of the places we visited so we learned a lot. The tour finished at 1.00 but we had a short break at a bar during the walk. I bet the bar all the groups used for their breaks had an arrangement with the tour leaders, they were doing great business with all the thirsty walkers.
In the main square one of the things that struck me, was the many buskers trying to get people’s attention, many in worn out costumes, Bart Simpson, Kermit the frog, Pooh Bear, Ninja Turtles and many other characters. One busker was a statue that was so realistic that I was surprised when the eyes moved, it was a person sitting on a chair playing chess. See the side on photo I took.
After the walk we strolled through the gardens of the palace before catching the metro back to the “Bunyip”. Our trip to Madrid was over and even though we just scratched the surface we were glad to have taken the time to visit.
Back to the “Bunyip” and on the road again. Getting out of Madrid was easy as we were heading south. The Aire at Ucles sounded quiet and remote which after a busy few days it was what we needed. It was indeed that, on the outskirts of a small village near a sports hall. We were the only people there until later in the evening when 2 other motorhomes arrived to stay the night. A large monastery dominated the view of the village in the back ground. (For some that don’t know; for the last few days we have been dealing with a family crisis at home. Whether we stay or go depends on the outcome. We have been waiting for news with the idea of making a change of plans at a moment’s notice. So each day has been stressful, waiting for an unpleasant phone call and dealing with being away from our family at this time.)
Wedding Anniversary Lunch – very romantic!!
Our destination today [Thursday 27th August] was Valencia, Clyde [our sometimes travel companion with wife Anna] had told us of an Aire that is as good as a campsite. After a late start we stopped for lunch at around 2.30 at a hotel/restaurant near to the highway. The place was very busy and the daily menu was only 11 euros which included 3 courses and a bottle of wine to share. It was our wedding anniversary and although the place was very pleasant and the food was really good you could not say that it was a very romantic place. Jenny did try Quail for the first time. (Tastes a bit like Chicken)
We stayed at the Valencia Camper Park for two nights, relaxing and taking advantage of the swimming pool, showers and free wifi. The place is only for motorhomes but it has the facilities of a campground. We paid 12 euros per night as we were using the solar panel, 3 euros extra for power. It is a short walk to the metro which takes you to Valencia, we didn’t use it as we plan to visit later with family we are picking up in a weeks’ time ( all going well).
We have booked our Cousin Mike’s apartment in Denia for 8 days sharing it with Jenny’s sister Debbie, brother in law Greg and their daughter Talia. But while we were in Valencia Mike called us to say that the place was empty and we could go there sooner if we wished. This was a lovely gesture and so we decided it would be a nice place to sit while we wait. We arrived at the apartment on Saturday. More about our stay there in the next blog.
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