Madrid

Madrid is slap bang right in the middle of Spain. I found this pretty inconsiderate considering that we wanted to make small jumps along the coast. Wary that even in October this area is very hot, and without the breeze of the coast or the facilities usually found along the beaches we decided that we would have to find campsites. It’s just too uncomfortable not to have a proper shower here. So therefore this limits our stay to a few days as unfortunately I’m not made of money.

There’s very few campsites in Madrid, and we basically had the choice of two. Obviously we chose the wrong one first. We drove just under an hour north of the city to camping la Fresneda. This was in a big patch of green on the map, so we took a punt that it may be nice. It wasn’t – far from it, infact. I don’t know how they have the cheek to call themselves a campsite. Anyway we were left with Camping Osuna, which is closer to the city, but also more expensive. Our first thoughts were, this is a bit scabby, but it actually wasn’t that bad. It’s quite deceiving from reception, but the site extends quite a way, and the facilities were always kept spotless. The only issue here was the noise. It’s situated right between two busy roads, and there’s a really noisy school or park nearby to add to it. We paid 22 Euros per night here and after a few tight fisted grumble noises, I decided that it’s wasn’t too bad – knowing the van was safe while we explored the capital. There’s a metro station fairly close to the site, and this takes you directly into the city. It’s 2 Euros each way per person, and takes about 30 minutes.

We left the metro via ‘Opera’, which is really close to the Palace, arriving just in time for the changing of the guard – or at least the Spanish version. I found it quite ironic that there were a load of police that were guarding the guards throughout, but this was fair enough as someone had to deal with the Asian tourists. They go bonkers for all this Royal palaver. I was a little confused as the first bunch of horse guards trotted in chatting to each other, I thought this may just be the warm up act, although they did have very shiny boots.  Then a marching band turned up with some confused stop-starting, and then some big old shire horses turned up pulling heavy cannons. I don’t think anyone knew what they were doing. I was expecting to see a performance with military precision and some very stern faces. I’m not a big fan of all this bravado and poncing about, but if you’re going to get all dressed up at least act the part. I started to feel a little patriotic knowing that we wouldn’t put up with this nonsense at our Queenies house – Amateurs!

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They fired their cannon at the end of the performance, which completely startled this poor little dog. Scared out of his mind, and with his owners not paying him any attention, I was considering going to try and calm this dog myself – then Karma struck perfectly on que and the little dog pee’d all over his owners trainers.

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There’s loads to do in the city, but it is a little spread out, we even set a new city record, covering 14 miles as we explored on foot. The Parque de El Retiro is a great way to while away an afternoon, watching street performers as you stroll through the park. Head towards the crystal palace, and keep an eye out for the little turtles having a wonderful time as they propel themselves through the water and squabble for the best place on the  ramp.

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We had the cunning idea to visit some of the museums later on in the day, as entry became free after a set time. Unfortunately so did half of Madrid, and the queue to the Museo Nacional del Prado was roughly around half a kilometer long. Our plans quickly changed as we stood in amazement looking at the ever growing queue. We couldn’t quite understand why people would put themselves through this ordeal. The Reina Sofia was down the road, but unfortunately we found this to have the same problem, so we took ourselves off to a local coffee shop to have a grumble about bloody tourists! After a nice coffee and a hefty wedge of carrot cake I felt revived and ready for a short walk to the Plaza Mayor. We ended the day with a Chocolate and Churros, although they didn’t quite live up to their reputation, I think we just chose the wrong place to have our churros experience. I have faith that you can find the authentically light an fluffy kind somewhere in the city, but not at  Chocolateria San Gines, which is odd because that’s what they specialise in. Maybe they were just having a bad day.

 

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