Madrid, Spain (Double Tree by Hilton, Madrid – Prado)
Today after breakfast I planned to walk back to some of the sites I saw yesterday to take a better look and also to get back to taking longer walks. Sunny today and will not need a sweater or a heavier coat. Just wore a t-shirt and my light travel jacket.
The historical center of Madrid is a 20 minute walk from the hotel. Madrid, from what I understand, has a modern underground Metro network, but I can walk everywhere I need to be. A few of the sidewalks are narrow and you end up doing a “dance” when passing someone coming from the opposite direction.
I headed directly towards the palace and cathedral. My goal is to take a tour of the palace and perhaps the cathedral, but okay with skipping the cathedral tour.
Since it is January, with fewer tourists, buying a ticket for the palace tour was easy. I added a tour of the palace kitchen, since it is known to one of the best preserved kitchens in Europe that shows the original equipment and rooms where food was prepared in the 1700 and 1800’s. I didn’t need an audio player (nor was one available) for this tour. There were signs in each room (in Spanish and English) that provided background information.
I took many pictures of the kitchen. I had seen the massive kitchen in Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, but this kitchen had much more detail, but much smaller than Henry’s. (It didn’t need to feed hundreds of people every day.)
Coal Used to Heat the Ovens
Ice Cream Makers
After the kitchen tour I picked up my audio player for the palace tour. Noticed the number of my player. Another 007! The first was yesterday when my McDonald’s order was “007”. Wonder if that means something? Though, as I was starting to listen to the player, I couldn’t get the volume to a level that I could hear, and I have have terrific hearing. It seemed to be a problem with the earphone and once I got the earphone exchanged, problem solved. The player was like a mini iPad and was the best player I’ve seen yet. Very easy to use.
The first stop was the entry hall, similar to the one in Buckingham Palace. It was intended to impress. The mural on the ceiling was fun to look at. I wonder how many people who walked up the stairs missed a step because they were looking up rather than down at their feet. These were the last pictures that I was allowed to take – which I found out when I started to take pictures in the palace’s state rooms. Oops!
The state rooms were very grand, though much of the furniture was not installed in most of the rooms – as compared to Buckingham Palace, which is used more often than this palace for official gatherings. Room after room of very amazing and fantastic artwork. The Porcelain Room was very detailed with porcelain artwork on all of the walls. Perhaps some of the rooms were a little over-the-top, but they were intended to impress, and they do. There is a Thorn Room where the King and Queen actually sit on the thrones on some occasions, and according to the audio guide, the room hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years.
Before and after the palace tour, I took pictures of the palace and cathedral. They are both so large it was difficult to get a picture that showed all of each building. Included in the palace pictures below is a picture of one of the lamp posts that are in front of the palace.
Palacio Real (Real is “Royal” in Spanish)
Cathedral, looking from inside the palace:
Below are pictures of these buildings from a lookout point just down the road.
After visiting the palace, I walked to the 17th century equestrian statue of Philip IV in the center of the gardens in Plaza de Oriente – the work of Italian sculptor Pietro Tacca, with a little help from Galileo, who helped ensure the stability of the statue. Having a statue with a horse on its hind legs had never been achieved before.
I was interested in the Church of Santa Teresa y San José and its dome. Was difficult to get a good picture to show the whole building.
From one of the viewpoints along my walk, I took a couple of pictures of western Madrid.
Look! Paddington Bear!
This statue interested me. It was very calming, if you can say that about a statue, and was simple. Per Wikipedia, it is of Juana Ines de la Cruz. was a self-taught scholar and student of scientific thought, philosopher, composer, and poet of the Baroque school, and Hieronymite nun of New Spain, known in her lifetime as “The Tenth Muse”, “The Phoenix of America”, or the “Mexican Phoenix”.
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by to take a few pictures of the oldest part of Madrid. Also a few of the street signs (“Calle” in Spanish). Each sign in this part of Madrid shows a picture of what each street represents.
Shortest street in Madrid (Calle de Madrid)
Some of the oldest buildings in Madrid
Final picture shows a street performer that has taken the art form of street performers, like a floating Yoda, to a new level. Not sure how he gets into that position and stays that way for so long. Good for him!
I walked over 15,000 steps today and still feel good. Though, was time for my afternoon nap when I got back to the hotel.
Just before I went to bed I received a notice on my phone that the Barcelona Hilton was looking forward to my stay tomorrow. Tomorrow? I’m leaving on Thursday and tomorrow is Wednesday. Must be some mistake! But too tired to investigate.
To be continued…