Some days-weeks-months ago yours truly along with a couple of other gentlemen embarked upon a tour of Espana. This is what happened.
We flew from the Americas to Madrid on some of the worst flights ever. C’est la vie, let us not dilly-dally on such things and get this cracking …
The view from the bus that ferries one from the airport to the city. It is not rather impressive but the thing to note is that it was bright and sunny and coming from Seattle it was a refreshing change.
The first meal in Spain was a Tortilla Espana, ordered at a café with great difficulty. Having no idea of what most of the words meant this was accomplished by looking at the items on display and pointing. Once pointed at fingers were used to indicate the quantity of items we wanted. The cashier first said out the total in Spanish and seeing the look of blank incomprehension at the faces of two Indian gentlemen who had been in airplanes for the last 20 odd hours was at a loss until I proffered my wallet. She took out a ten euro note and returned back four euros and change. I did know Café Con Leche – coffee with milk.
the very first meal, tortilla espana or something which was basically a potato omlette. very nice, inexpensive and with a cup of coffee that was actually rather good.
The Royal Palace is definitely worth seeing. There are policemen on horses (which seems very antiquated), Spanish Mom’s trying to control their kids and chinese gentlemen selling foot massages (very insistently). The gist of one conversation with one of them (well, a conversation is too strong a word) was that I really needed a massage and I would do well to heed their advice and choose from a menu that was a set of illustrations on cardboard on the areas of my foot that would be impacted by a massage.
the royal palace. its slightly not-aligned to the horizon and the photographer is not at fault here
there are these chilled out artistes near the palace – they thrive on the ability of tourists such as us to be easily amused and want to take photos with them
Walking around Madrid is a great idea. Walking around any foreign city is a great idea. You never know what all you will see …
autos in Espana
salmon on bread. to put it more eloquently, a salmon bocadillo
At night, we walked around Puerta Del Sol and the historic district of Madrid. This is when the city comes to life (it was either a Friday or a Saturday). There are people outside cafes, restaurants, sitting, chilling, eating, drinking. It’s cool, calm.
An infusion of lilac
the windows phone does take very good pictures
another fountain …
there are people in Spain. You see hub-hub and activity …
we ended the night at another café, eating churros dipped in chocolate (it’s not exactly a breadstick in chocolate but something like that)
The next day we drove to El Escoreal. Now, getting out of Madrid is not as simple as it looks. We rented a car with a GPS. Programmed El Escoreal into the GPS. It told us to take the A-<some number> which we proceeded to. The A-<some number> then became a tunnel under the city. Infact every big road in Madrid became a tunnel under the city. Upon entering this tunnel the GPS lost signal. We then proceeded to spend the next half hour roaming underground in Spain doing nothing. Finally surfaced we found where we had to go and then headed there.
The Valley of the Fallen is a monument to those who died in the Spanish Civil War. It is grand and imposing, a cross on a hillside visible from far away. I think it is remarkable that the Spanish have built such a memorial. Inside, is a basilica, hewn into the mountain itself, the entrance to which has gates that are three-of-me-tall. The tunnel that leads into the main hall has stories from Christianity inscribed on it’s walls, in between giant tapestries that hang from the ceiling to the floor.
El Escoreal itself is nothing much to write about.
our ride, a Peugeot, the crappiest car I’ve ever driven, slow, very slow, the only car I’ve ever red-lined, this piece of goop only served to exacerbate a really bad ache in the neck.
in quiet contemplation … a severe neck-ache … at El Escoreal
the valley of the fallen
to give you a better idea of the scale
Being jetlagged in Spain does mean that you get to eat some interesting breakfasts. The first morning in Spain I wandered down Puerta Del Sol and stepped into a café and ordered a sandwich. I also needed to buy glue which was a fairly interesting exercise in itself – pointing to a stamp and a postcard and trying to bring them together is not the best way to tell an old shopkeeper that you want to buy a fevistick.
A spanish footlong!
The next day was a longer more involved brunch.
Paella, something which I don’t very much care for, it’s a little on the sweet side which I think is weird for rice to be (unless it’s payasam or kheer)
I forget what this is – but it sure looks good right now
Oh and I’d had another sandwich
We also went to the Reina Sofia – the modern art museum. Well, I had to drag my compatriots out there. It was an illuminating visit, I don’t think any of us grokked the hidden meaning behind any of the art. Don’t get me wrong, it was impressive, technically very difficult and it is possible for the layman to parse parts but it is not possible to understand the bigger picture.
Picasso’s Guernica deserves it’s own separate mention with a vague description (your narrator is not accountable to any standards of quality and can do as he pleases which is very liberating). It is huge. It is very interesting to read about. It cannot be photographed.
this one is very famous
these weren’t at the museum per se but we weren’t able to fathom their exact purpose