July 2005


Madrid II


I started Friday by picking up a copy of The Guardian and reading more news about the London Bombers. I sped through the paper before meeting my sister. We were off to do the Palacio Real de Madrid; where the Spanish Royalty lived.

The Palace was beautiful and enchanting on many levels. We started off wandering through the Royal Pharmacy, which includes many old, and empty, bottles that once held the cures to the king’s ills. I noticed that one of the signs had an inverted photo of the room we were standing in—bottles that were on the right in reality were shown on the left in the photo.

I’m a freak for noticing this kind of thing.

After the Pharmacy we headed to the apartments, which included a grand entrance up the stairs. The apartments were fantastically beautiful, but I imagined all the money that went into the building of the palace while the citizens suffered. There was opulent room after room, including the Throne Room where the King sits when he’s ruling. My favorite room was the Porcelain Room—which was covered in Porcelain and had the most beautiful statue of Atlas (see it on Flickr). All-in-all, it was a really a beautiful room. The entire set of apartments were very nice.

From there, we headed over to the Municipal Museum, which is a genre of museum that both my sister and I thoroughly enjoy. This one was adequate, and included a model of the city.

We separated after that and I went back to my hotel for a siesta.

Spanish Lifestyle Observations

The Spanish life-style is significantly different from anywhere else I’ve ever been. I picked upon that pretty quickly. Being at the far western edge of the time zone, the sun goes down incredibly late. It’s also a very warm country as I mentioned yesterday. I believe that it is the heat during the daytime that prompts the odd lifestyle.

In the mid-afternoon when the temperature exceeds 40°C (~103°F) activity stops. People stay inside eating a late lunch and taking a siesta. I wandered around a neighborhood nearby my hotel pausing in a small plaza where there was a small playground where little kids were playing and an open area where a game of pick-up football (soccer) was being played by kids. The streets and the open plaza were the center of activity with lots of families and people congregating and talking.

This kind of lifestyle, while not unheard of in the States, was remarkable because the games were going on at 9 pm. When I was a kid this age, I was in bed by 9.

The dinner hour in Spain is late. Friday night I made my way to Pink Pollo. The restaurant opened at 8:30, and I finally broke away from the plaza to go in for dinner at 9:15. I was one of the first people in the restaurant. In fact, just before I left a few more tables filled up. The late dining hours presented a problem the next day when my sister and I went out to a restaurant that was recommended, we arrived at 7, but the restaurant didn’t open until 9. Most local restaurants don’t open until at least 8:30.


Saturday I slept in until 9, went out grabbed The Guardian, and had breakfast from a supermarket. Once this was done, I got on the Metro and headed across the city to the Casa de la Moneda Museum—a money museum. I arrived at the Museum, which is located at the Mint. There the guard spoke little English and convey that I had to check my backpack and relinquish my camera. And then the one guard made me walk through the metal detector. It was strange and I’m not sure that it would have prevented me from bringing a weapon into the building. The detector didn’t catch my mobile.

I went up to the museum on the 3rd floor. The museum was mostly in Spanish—well all of the signage at least. What was odd was that they had some short films that were available in both Spanish and English. The museum had a great collection of coins from Greece through today, including the introduction of the €uro. There was also a collection of paper money from around the world, including from the Confederate States and banks in Minnesota. The exhibit closed out with lessons on engraving money and the creation of stamps.

From there, it was already noon and I wandered down Calle de O’Donnell heading toward Retiro Mediodía, Madrid’s city park. Walking down Calle de O’Donnell was typical of my walks around Madrid. There was a huge construction project down the middle of the street. In fact much of the city is under construction. Everywhere I went I encountered construction of some kind: most of it appears to be for an 8 kilometer tunnel under the city, but that didn’t explain the construction on Calle de O’Donnell, nor could it possibly explain every piece of construction I encountered.

I stopped in a small supermarket and picked up some cherries and something to drink before heading into Retrio Mediodía. Once in the park I sat on bench, ate some cherries, and then wandered south through the park. I wanted to kill a couple hours because my destination was the Sofía—Madrid’s modern art museum, and after 2:30 on Saturdays, it’s free. Eventually I found a shady area at the southern edge of the park where I did some reading and relaxing. There was pleasant eye candy.

At 2:30 I stood up and made my way over to the Museum.

To be Continued

2 comments to Madrid II

  • mateo


    Your descriptions make it almost as good as being there. I wouldn’t mind doing the things you are doing instead of being stuck in Btown. Though we are having 90 degree weather and construction as well. Although I *have* been drinking a cerveza and taking a siesta after work lately, so maybe I am living the life a little bit! Heh.

  • MT

    Sounds like my lifestyle these days. Get up, work for a while, eat a late lunch, take a nap, and eat dinner around 10 p.m. DAMN FOOTBALL!!!