Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Madrid = Mojitos

Day 2.

Woke up from the most relaxing slumber... I think all that stressing on the plane wore me well out. We took a while getting out the door today – through no fault of our own – the other two girls in the room decided they would take really long consecutive showers which meant we couldn’t go to the loo! Grrr... We still managed to get out and down to our first stop – the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) by nine. Sadly, it didn’t open until 11 which gave us some time to take a stroll and survey the surroundings. Here are some general pictures of the area. It is so beautiful here! I had no expectations, whatsoever, of this town but – wow – it’s amazing. I love Madrid and can plainly state it is one of my favourite cities in the world! Take that Paris with your French folk and your iconic structures! The Spanish have friendliness and Uncle Pepe! Yeah!

We bought our tickets and decided to get an audio guide. This is where the rubbish part of the day began. We waited for about an hour to get an audio guide because no staff member could be bothered to hand them out! I was ready to swing my legs over the counter and do it myself! I mean we’d all paid we just wanted the damn things in hand and in ear. After a surge of relief as we got them in our hot little mittens – Miranda’s broke. Sigh. Miranda went back to change hers as I started my way through the palace. This palace is AMAZING. Despite, the annoying effort of the staff (it gets better – and by better I mean worse) I love this palace. I really think it gives Versailles a run for its money because this palace is just as opulent and elaborate but it isn’t as touristy which means you can take your time wandering through the rooms. I really really loved it. Unlike Versailles you couldn’t take photos inside and if you so much as thought about maybe, perhaps touching your camera some staff member would strut up to you, wag their Spanish digits and yell “NO PHOTOS”! Miranda still did manage to get some excellent sneaky shots...
There was one room that was my total favourite which was called the Gasparini Suite. We didn’t get a photo but here is a picture I found online.
The whole room is crafted with marble and various colours and I mean every inch of this room – the floor, the ceiling, the walls – everything. Breath taking.
This palace also had a real liking for clocks (as they had only recently been invented at the time of decoration) which meant that every room had a clock ticking in it more ornate than the last so depending how long you took in each room you would get a lovely serenade of various chimes.

When we finished in the palace we went back to the ground floor and saw another courtyard out the window. We started walking over to the window when this guard woman was like you can’t go there. So Miranda asks politely “Can we just look out the window?” “No”. Just no. Wow okay. That had us laughing for a while. “Could I use the rest rooms?” “No” “Can I breathe the air in this room?” “No”. And so on.
The palace is on top of a big hill so the view is really awesome.

On another note the policemen here (at least I assume they are authority figures as they have guns) wear plastic potty type things on their heads. I suppose when they yelled “Freeze!” people would do so only to get a better view of their toilet hats.

After the palace we walked to the Museo del Prado which is the big art museum of Madrid. We, somehow, managed to work out the very confusing maps and saw many famous artists such as Reubens, Brueghal, Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Botticelli, Raphael and Carvaggio. Most impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed it in that place. Especially when Miranda and I started giving the paintings subtext. There was one painting that had this man praying at the bottom and this bird flying above him holding what looks like a donut. So the subtext of that painting was “Dear Lord – please deliver thou a donut”. We also played “pants on, pants off”. Not sure if I’ve explained this one but basically we look at all the sculptures and busts then decide – based on their appearance (I mean how much personality can a bust have? Don’t judge us) and then decide if we want their pants on or off. Pretty straight forward. Rather hilarious when we would differ greatly and then relentlessly mock one another. It was a BIG museum so needless to say we were getting pretty tired. And to mark this sleepiness here is another photo of Miranda looking pooped in a gallery...YAY!

Because it was such a beautiful sunny and warm day we then took a walk to a lovely park called Parque del Buen Retiro. On the way we found this wall with all these bricks sticking out and we thought if you tapped them correctly the wall would open directly into Diagon Alley. No such luck. Anyway the park was lovely and had these excellent trees which looked like brains. We walked past the lovely lake which had a lovely old arch with people boating all around it. It was LOVELY. Now where’s my thesaurus? We then felt the need to buy delicious ice-blocks and Miranda foolishly chose a “Perulo” or some such Spanish “treat” as she put it in her mouth – it froze – she ripped it out and doing so pulled off most of her lip. EW. It was way more gross than it sounds because I had to look at it. Poor Miranda though it was all bleeding and nasty. Funny looking though. She even took a photo of the lip bit on the ice-block which I will not show you. Throughout the trip we would look over our photos and then BAM frozen lip would come on the screen. Bleh.

After the lip fandango we walked to Puerta del Sol and saw the most famous monument of Spain. A bear wrestling with a tree or something. It’s on everything here. I guess it’s a big deal. We did our final spot of shopping and then headed out for dinner. Given that we wouldn’t come back to Spain for a while we decided to have delicious Paella again. To add to the traditional food we had mojitos as well. WHOA. Mojitos in Spain are deadly. They were so strong that every sip we took we would uncontrollably shudder and pull attractive faces like these...
We did finish them though! Let it be known. Rather giggly on the walk back to the hostel... We were going to see Flamenco dancing that night but it was too expensive. We got ice-cream and it was easily the best ice-cream I’ve ever had and I’m talking EVER. Better than Italy – take that! It’s funny because when we arrived in Spain Miranda read in the guidebook that Spanish men are very complimentary of beautiful women and that’s just normal over here. After getting no compliements we started to feel pretty down. Then we managed to get two crazy sleazes calling out to us... BLEH. One of them was in the ice-cream shop and was going “ooohh yeeeah...baby...awww” and so on. So I guess that’s something...
Fare well Spain I love you very much and look forward to returning and seeing more of you! Especially the South. Because tomorrow – it’s onto Florence!

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