Sunday, September 26, 2010
Madrid Sept 26
10:00 am: I took a short walk to the Puerta del Sol this morning then decided to walk up to the Gran Via area to find the hostal that we originally had reservations for our last two days in Spain (since we arrived 3 days early in Madrid, we had to stay in a different place those days). Tomorrow I will move, but the first location was actually better for the places I wanted to see, I now realize.
I noticed a lot of police actvity on both Sol and Gran Via. As I made my way back, I discovered I was on the wrong side of a huge marathon race in progress and could not cross the square at Sol for the hundreds of runners. Time to duck onto a cafe for a morning cafe con leche and watch the runners out of the window. And start writing today's blog. There is a group coming in one direction and continuing on to someplace else then they are headed through on the other side. Everyone but a few stragglers has passed the first direction, so in a bit the second direction should be light enough to continue on.
5:00: I continued on to the Plaza Mayor, similar to the one in Salamanca but not as large. From there on to the cathedral. This is the newest one I have seen started in the late 1800s and dedicated only in 1993. It is beside the Royal Palace, which is third in size only to Versailles and the Schönbrun. I had never seen it on previous visits, so it was time. And finally over to the Reina Sofia art museum before it closed at 2:30, again free admission today. After a walk back to the hostal, I had a menu of the day (paella mixta and fish) at the restaurant below the hostal.
A few things of note-
1. Madrid is easier to navigate as there are now many more and larger street signs and many streets are being converted to pedestrian mostly with limited vehicle access. According to Rick Steve, this is part of Madrid's bid for the Olympics, a failed bid for 2012, another bid for 2016.
2. The iPhone/itouch apps for Madrid and Salamanca are a total waste of money. The most useful one has been Rick Steve's guide on kindle fit itouch. It is the full print version on the itouch. I used his self guideed tour of the Royal Palace and of the art museums. Highly recommended and worth it.
3. Spain must be where all the cheesiest American t-shirts get sent when they can not sell them in the US. Almost every young Spanish male and many of the females have t-shirts in English, many of which no one who is "cool" in the US would be caught wearing.