With a Covid Winter looming over the entire earth, reducing our desire to get on planes filled with disease-ridden, droopy-masked Typhoid Marys sneezing all over us, we wedged one last trip of the year into our travel bag by making the six hour drive to visit Madrid, Spain’s largest city.
It is also the third largest city in the EU, the 54th largest on earth, and the 4,231,421th largest in the universe. But don’t quote me on that: the Zynglovians, who do nothing but track this kind of data, have an internet search engine that’s a little left-leaning, so take it with a grain of slamanja. Could be only 5,521,563rd for all I know.
What some geography-challenged Americans might not have known is that to get to Madrid from Portugal you have to drive through Los Angeles, as you can see by that road sign. I know, right? Who knew? But now I suppose we know why there are so many Spanish speakers in California. Of course, if you know any Spanish you’d know this sign was saying it was the “other” (otero- duh!) Los Angeles, and it’s located just below the blacksmiths. Seriously, that’s what “Herreros” means. See- no matter how much misinformation these blogs provide, we guarantee (or your money back!) there’s almost always one truth in each paragraph!
One of the first things we do when we arrive in a city is do an internet search on “Things to do in…” By doing so, we can get a pretty quick idea as to whether it’s a city with lots of historical things to see or if they need to set up centers for the Treatment of Tourist Boredom. For instance, if the number five thing to do is a children’s playground or a hot dog museum, then we know there’s a high TTB factor and we won’t need to be there very long. With Madrid, it seemed as if most of the things to do involve day trips to some of the surrounding towns, like Avila, Toledo, and Segovia. Madrid itself is modern, bustling, and not nearly as full of obvious history as most of the other towns we visited. Sure, there are lots of museums and such, but neither of us was in the mood for museums. Covid is still a concern so we generally spent our time outdoors or in our car running over Spaniards.
It was not an easy city to drive in, especially considering that I was having problems with my eyesight. Freeways criss-cross the city like a plateful of noodles, and the Spanish aren’t too patient with an old blind guy trying to drive while listening to both Google Maps and his wife yelling at him as to where to turn… and they don’t always agree. “Turn right.” “No, turn left!” “Left now?” “Right.” “You mean right?” “Rerouting.” “No left” “Right?” “NO!” “Too late now!” “Rerouting.” “Watch out for that car!” “Did I just hit something?” “Yes, step on it!” “Left or right?” “Rerouting…”
This was the view from our apartment. These towers are pretty much the only buildings that poke up past the Madrid skyline. Europe isn’t as big on skyscrapers as in many other parts in the world. Probably because they’re afraid the Germans are going to come back and blow them all up again.
There are a couple of major tourist areas in Madrid. One of them is Plaza Mayor, which is, amazingly enough, a plaza. And it’s muy mayor. Which means “A big town leader.” I think. Anyway, the Christmas tree was just being set up. The timing of our trip was fortuitous because about a week after we left Spain, it got hammered with a bunch of snow. And you don’t want to be in Spain when it’s all drunk and everything, even if it’s from snow alcohol.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is probably the main tourist tra- er, stop. It’s a big palace. I mean, royally big. Which is I’m sure how it got its name (good thing it isn’t just damn big). It was closed the day we were there, and I had little interest in spending another day trying to navigate the downtown Madrid streets. Even with the GPS, we made multiple wrong turns and maimed several Spanish people. At least I assume they were Spanish based on the language they used while cursing.
I did find this view from the palace fascinating because the palace feels as if it’s right in the heart of the city, and yet you just walk to its courtyard wall and you see trees as far as the eye can see. Well, depending on your eyes. I thought I was taking a picture of a statue.
After a long day of walking around, a nice big helping of beef is all anybody needs. That and a cardiologist.
While Madrid didn’t exactly blow us away, it did offer up three different doors of the day. I think Carolyn was really in love with that first one. She hasn’t looked at me the same since.
As far as we’re concerned, while Madrid is a large and influential city, we really enjoyed the outer towns with their castles and aqueducts and history a bit more. And those are coming up next! (Unless you’re reading this after that fact, because this site scrolls down in reverse order of time. I think that’s why some people think we’re getting younger.)
(Not that I’ve heard anyone say that, but I’m sure they’re thinking it.)
At least we made it home safely, as you can see by the above footage. Not a scratch on us!
Truth be told, I was just practicing for the roundabouts.
My next stop after this trip was to the ophthalmologist for cataract surgery. And that’s the truthpppplllhhh. No yolk!