Monday, 15 January 2018

Madrid, Spain (Double Tree by Hilton, Madrid – Prado)

For some reason, I didn’t sleep well last night. Maybe an hour or two of sleep. Given that, at 7:00, I was the first person down for breakfast this morning. Great staff at the hotel and they now know me by name (and some by my room number too). Not a very large hotel, but nice to be greeted by name. Because everyone in the hotel, and at most places I go, many people speak English – and can speak it very well in fact. I was looking forward to practicing a little Spanish while I was here, but no need to. Though I do try to say a few phrases and say gracias of course at every opportunity.

After breakfast I finally was getting tired and took a two hour nap. I needed it!

Today I have scheduled a guide to take me, via Segway, on a tour of the old parts of Madrid. I really like touring on a Segway since you can cover more ground that way, plus it is kind of fun to drive around. This will be my fourth tour on a Segway (Bruges, Athens, and Florence were the others).

Carlos was my guide and we were on our way. I didn’t take many pictures on the tour. so I plan to visit some of the places tomorrow or Wednesday and will take more pictures then. I mainly want to get a feel of Madrid’s history and the people who have lived here. (Also to ride a Segway.)

Parts of old Madrid, from 500 hundred years (and more) ago, still exist – but not many. Carlos has been leading tours for years and definitely knows his way around. In the early years, Madrid was not the large city it is today. But there is so much history. Given that Spain could be considered the first European country, rather than many separate kingdoms, it has an interesting history. Of course the influences from the Moors, France, and the Habsburgs played a large role in the development of Spain over the centuries.

After we looked around the old streets of Madrid we rode by the Almudena Cathedral, which is across from the Madrid Royal Palace (Palacio Real de Madrid). I learned more about Cervantes, Velazquez, etc. My head was getting filled with so many names and dates as the tour progressed.

Almudena Cathedral

Memorial to Velazquez

Church of San Nicolas (Oldest in Madrid)

View of the Madrid Palace and Cathedral 

Temple of Debod

As our tour progressed we started talking about travel, cultural influences, languages, and many other subjects. We even talked about whether we liked a sunrise more than a sunset, living a simple life with few possessions, and before we knew it, it was time to return to the shop for his next tour. He gave me his email address and asked that I keep in touch, which I will. Amazing how you can know someone in two hours.

It was nearly 3:00 and I was ready for another nap. When I returned to my room it looked like housekeeping hadn’t been in to service it today. I went down and asked the front desk about this and they apologized and asked if it housekeeping could come now. Well, I needed a nap and said it could wait until tomorrow. A two-hour nap followed.

As for tomorrow, I plan to return to some of the sites visited today and take pictures. Also, I’d like to tour the palace. The royal family, unlike in the U.K., do not live in the official palace, but rather in the more modest Palace of Zarzuela.


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