We were up early to catch the 337 bus from Chinchon to Madrid. It took 45 minutes and it was nice not to have to think about where we were going. The bus dropped us near the centre of the city and we took the lazy option and went by taxi to Plaza Mayor.
The square was begun in 1617 and only took a couple of years to build. The statue in the centre is of Felipe III who ordered the square to be built. The square is now lined with shops, including the information centre where you can buy the tour bus tickets.
We took the tour bus because it is a good way to get your bearings in a new city. When we got on, the only seats were down the back, facing the wrong way and we could see nothing except parked cars. With a bit of wrangling we worked our way to the top of the bus and in a couple of moves, into the front seats. This takes years of practice. We could see very well from our new positions, but the bus was mind numbingly slow and the commentary didn’t match what we were looking at. Anyway, we did the complete loop, not daring to get off because there were queues of people waiting at each stop. Despite its shortcomings it did give us an idea of what we wanted to see.
Opposite another puny Neptune we came across a group of lively musicians. Lucky them, they scored the euro coin I found on the floor of the tour bus.
We wandered down the very pretty Paseo del Prado which has a central walkway and garden. This street has several galleries and museums. It was nice to be under the shade of the trees on such a hot day.
We had lunch at a very pretty restaurant under the trees.
Madrid has the most beautiful parks and gardens. We had a wander in a huge park off Calle de Alfonso XII.
We wandered to the huge Royal Palace. While trying to figure out where to buy tickets we notice a terrible stench. I checked my shoes, Jim checked his shoes, we checked each others shoes, but could see nothing. Then we noticed other people looking at their shoes. One chap was checking his thongs for encrustations, you wouldn’t want to mess up your dress thongs, would you? (flip flops for non Australians) I happened to look across to the gardens and noticed manure scattered over the new grass. I could imagine the gardeners hiding behind a shed laughing at tourists contorting themselves looking for dog poo.
No photos are allowed inside the palace (unfair) or I could have shown you the 400 square metre banquet hall and the room entirely covered with porcelain tiles.
We wandered down the lively Calle del Arenal in the late afternoon with the other Madrid wanderers – the equivalent of the Italian passeggiata.
There was a delightful bookshop near Pasadozo de San Gines.
We strolled around the old streets. I love the street signs.
The balconies have thoughtfully placed tiles on the underside for the benefit of those looking up.
We ended our day in Madrid back where we started – at Plaza Mayor which was full of football supporters getting ready for the game.
Back on the bus to Chinchon.