Madrid – Royal Palace

Just a quick stop back here before heading back out.  Today we purchased hop on hop off Madrid tickets (E40 for M&I) and got a tour of the city; saw the original archways which marked the edge of town; was walled at one point.  Passed so much amazing architecture that you lose the awe.  Even the “worst” corner would be impressive in Toronto.  We disembarked at Palaciois Royal/Cathedral.  First we took a walk to find breakfast….it was afternoon!  Fount a great cafe in the Italian school, had coffee/croissants and more fresh OJ > every chair in the place was different and very chic (all in white or pale wood > see photos below).

Then to Cathedral for a quick E1 tour.  this one was more modern in parts, not all Gothic this time!  The prayer room allowed no photos but was spectacular.  Mosaic and golden sunbursts.  Very peaceful.  then to the palace.

Just Plain WOW!

(The photos of inside the Palace were not taken by me.  Photos were not allowed inside the palace.  These were obtained from the Internet.  The collection here are rooms that I personally viewed. Unfortunately, this website can not give you the true sense of the beauty of these rooms.  They really were over the top!)

they say there are 2800 rooms and we only saw a handful of them.  Every room was a show case.  From multi-coloured marble inlaid floors to the silk embroidered walls to the porcelain ceilings.  the endless number of specially commissioned clocks, the fining room fro 140 seated guests, the custom Chinese porcelain walls int he smoking room.  It was endless the decadence and opulence on display.  The every day silver ware alone could likely go a long way to recouping Spain’s current debt crisis.  Very aware that they were willing to spend fortunes on wars over the centuries, but not on dealing with the current crisis in the country.  The Chapel, the custom furniture, the tapestries….The armouries topped it off with the many decorative pieces along with the matching child armour of the 5, 7 and 9 year old sons – more that 1 matched set per child of course.  the horses the lances for jousting, the guns; all ornate and many blessed by the church. Interesting were the scaled up rifles that were the size of a very large canon.

Then back on the bus to Plaza del Sol.  The center of spain; all streets emanate from here.  It is the meeting place.  Eventually we found a little treasure for lunch E10 pp for the whole meal with drinks and we even had salads.  Got a recommendation to see Carmen ballet for flamenco which started at 8:30 so off home for quick freshen up.

Out for Carmen – M&GL treated M&I for our birthdays.  We thought it was fantastic although GL found it “OK”.  I think due to the stretching of the story for dance purposes.  At any rate the flamenco was great and the stage production well done.  Then home for a night cap of cheese/cold cuts/bread and what we thought was barbedillo wine, (which turned out to be sherry).  Then a bit of blogging some stretches and sleep.  We head off to the north tomorrow.

Then back

Madrid – Prada

Prada Art Gallery

Musece to Prado dominated today.  So many fantastic paintings.  Mike and I walked over a bet before M&GL (one entry & one with book for a total of 12+22=E34 & E3.5 guide headset)  My back is really sore trying to do yoga to help but limited success and Mike had a sore throat so was popping Vitamin Cs.  Saw some fantastic Goya’s first – the dog, the reader, the witch all favorites.  Marucia liked the famous Goya painting of the reclining nude/clothed pair.  I noticed that many painted themselves into the family portraits.  My favorite was the veiled marble carving of Isabella (pictured below).  Also of interest the studies of reproductions.  They were done by laying original over a blank canvas and pin pricking through with coloured chalk.  Also of interest was painters who copied other painters works.  Mostly focused on Spanish painters, but also Bottecelli, Flemish and other renaissance painters.  X-rays of Rapail’s showed that he painted the whole painting with nudes then put clothes on them.  This made for extremely accurate bodies.

We left for lunch having our bigger meal, I finally had oxtail with potato and Gazpacho – again with a very good Rioja.  Then back for more Prada.  I (Audrey) walked into a glass divider when leaving – still hurts my ear.  After Prada back for a short siesta and shower.  The streets seem clear today although there was some confusion as we left at about 6:30pm, but seemed to amount to nothing.

After siesta George did some reference checking to plan our evening, so off to a favorite place of Hemingway for Tortilla Espanol and beer and some great white wine.  Also had a great croquette and a bunch of other less impressive tapas, (denounced to us we may have been getting some food poisoning at this meal:  more to come).

We then headed to a sherry only bar Jerez El Menencly (?) where Mike was not allowed to take photos inside the bar.  We had a variety of Sherries (pictures) . The fino from the “top” barrel and others of progressive darkness as they move through other barrels.  Then a late night walk home through the still busy streets @ 1:30am and to bed by 2:30am.  We will need a earlier start tomorrow for the drive to Bilboau (Mundaka) on Saturday.

the photos inside the Prada where obtained from the Internet.  One is not allowed to take any photographs inside of the art gallary.  The collection here are paintings that I (Michael) personally loved. Unfortunately, this website can not give you the true sense of the paintings scale.)


Madrid via Bus.

So here we are after midnight after planning on an early evening.  Long drive today – Mikey did most of it.  Packed up and ate at Seville.  It was a lovely spot.  Ate our pastries (eclair for breakfast!)  with tea (using sugar this time instead of the salt I used by mistake yesterday 🙂 )  Also Manchego and cured ham with toast and apricots.  Got out of Seville very smoothly then just kept driving on the A41.  Stopped for lunch en route.  Veal cutlet for GL, M&M had chicken cutlet.  I had more calamari with a very nice salad of tomato, potato, olives, lettuce, pineapple and oil dressing.  Also filled up with diesel for E52.  GL and I had garlic soup (quite mild but yummy which came with a poached egg in it).  Mike had the samarallejo.

Then on the road to Madrid.  All went well til A4 disappeared and we mistakenly exited.  But found our bearings and then discovered the protests!  Our street was blocked fully by masses of police with riot gear.  So after much small street maneuvering we dropped Mike and Marucia (with out any money! and a dead phone) one block over while GL and I tried to drive there.  M & M knocked (pounded) on the door but no luck.  A little old lady tried to help them but they just had to wait.  Eventually a woman showed up to let them in.  She tried to charge a late fee which we refused due to the road confusion.  Had to pay E40 cleaning fee cash which we new about.

Meanwhile, GL and I were in stopped traffic with many policia.  We even saw water trucks.  Eventually GL & I just parked at the Prado parking area for E30/day.  Finally re-met with M&M and headed back to the parking lot to get more luggage.  We just brought essentials which of course included camera and laptop.

Once the internet was established and Marucia called for Ana to check the house in Burlington we are finally headed out.  Had a fantastic caiparinha at a little bar that Michael had spotted.  The drinks were made with a homemade crusher – Put chucked limes (2) and 1 lemon, scoop of sugar then crush.  Lots of ice then filled cashasa.  GL had another Rum Meil, then for Paella – quite yummy for Mike & I.  We had a funny waiter which made it more enjoyable.  Then back to email Paul & Lucy, Derek.


Seville Day 3

Art Gallery, Bull Fighting and Flamenco!

A fun packed day of activities!  Rose fairly early and heading to parasol for a mediocre breakfast.  Then up the parasol to check the topside.  Another good viewing spot and great because there are no obstructions and the city landmarks were posted on signs.  The parasol is quite well done with five pillars spanning a road way.  It also covers a market and Roman ruins.  We bought some fruit at the market, (the ham, fish and cheeses looked very tempting).  From there we split from M&GL (they headed to the park which we saw yesterday) and returned the fruit to the apartment then headed to the Museu de Belle Artes.  This gallery featured paintings from the 15th century onwards, (we were short of time so only viewed up to the 17th century).  Artists included Murillo, Velazqez, Larbaran, Roelas, Castillos, Valdez, Barrera, Perez and many more.  You can see from the photos that some of the painting were very large.  It takes a unique talent to pain so large.  I expect many were from the Cathedrals and Churches in Seveille.  The building too was impressive.

Met up with M&GL for some beer and tapas.  Then over to Torre del Oro to see the nautical museum.  They had some interesting maps and replica ships.  Columbus’s ship was similar to Cabots (which we saw in New Foundland).  From there to the Bull fighting museum.  Mike went in but M, GL & I headed to the tourist info to get info on which Flamenco shop to see.  Most recommendations were to cross the river to the less tourist establishments.

Seville Day 2

Monday, July 09, 2012

Seville Treasures – Plaza’s and Cathedrals and Columbus himself

We are starting to learn that Mondays are the slow days in Spain – although the tourist sights are open, many restaurants are closed and the pace is much slower.  Mike & I headed out early to the city this morning on our own to allow Mike some photo ops.

Every corner you turn on every walk we take brings another spectacular building with beautiful detail and incredible craftsmanship.  While most buildings are older, even the new buildings have a style we are not accustomed to in North America.  Even the lamp posts – which are quite new – are thoughtfully designed and integrated with the environment.

I had the classic Spanish breakfast – cafe con leche with tomato tostado (Mike is off of gluten so has to skip the bread) sitting across from the Seville Cathedral which is the 3rd largest in the world and the largest Gothic one in the world.  We took a walk past the cathedral but knowing we were meeting up with Marucia and GL we travelled on past to return later.

We headed to the Santa Maria Luisa Park which took us past many more inspring buildings.  We crossed through the university, museum, and an old theatre (now a casino) before getting to the park.  We also passed the Torre del Oro which is a 12th century Muslim tower which protected the city along side the Guadalquivir river which runs through Seville from the Mediterranean – it is placed at the spot furthers up the river where navigation from the sea is possible.  It is now a marine museum (which we later visited).

In the late 1880’s one of the infantas donated the land to the city which became Santa Maria Luisa Park.

In the early 1910’s, the south end of Seville was rejuvenated in preparation for the Iberia-American exposition of 1918.

A massive Plaza de Seville was built at the one end of the 1/2 mile long park.  Every province of Spain sponsored a tile panel around the massive semi-circular building – with a fountain the centre and a moat encircling the inside semi circle of the building.  There are large towers at either end a central tower all joined by a 3 story building.

Today they are primarly in use as office spaces, so you are not able to tour inside of the buildings – but you can see from the photos here that the exterior is still well maintained and impressive.

Although we did not have time to walk through the rest of the park, it is full of horticultural gardens complete with green parrots in the orange garden.

We returned to the cathedral to meet up with Marucia and GL for our 2nd breakfast before heading into the cathedral.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Seville – with the Barbers and the Oranges – that one!

So off to our 2nd stop. We had thought of perhaps doing Cordoba on the way, but as it is Sunday much stuff is closed – and it is a fairly long drive, so we headed straight there.  And just as well given the chaos when we got there….!
Got to Sevilla in good time and snagged ourselves what seemed an ideal parking spot outside the next place. But despite having called her ahead and waiting for quite some time, still no show of the owner.
 So called her back up and let her know we were going for a cerveza and would be back in 1/2 hour or so.  Marucia and I returned, but still no Rosa.  And then for some reason, I double checked that we were in fact at the right address….
Well google is just too good at trying to correct you sometimes I think. I had found MalaKer on google – the name of the house – when I really wanted 23 MalaVer.  Coincidentally both were # 23 and had no # on the building – so Marucia’s comment on the phone that there was no # did not register that we may be at the wrong spot for Rosa.
 So off Marucia and I went on the search for the real residence – a quest which had us stop and ask for directions about 5 times (thank goodness Marucia speaks Spanish!)- everyone circling us in closer each time.
And every set of directions was centric around churches;  go to the first church, turn left, pass 2 churches then turn right etc.   From the first request we sounded very close – but an hour later and rather overheated, hungry and sweaty we finally arrived.  Rosa was an angel and she and her husband drove us back to Mike & GL and even drove our car back to the new place – and it is wonderful – very tastefully done and well appointed.
On our adventure, Marucia and I had walked past the Parasol – an intriguing new architectural addition to the local market square which Mike & I had just seen on TV a couple of weeks prior to heading to Spain.
So once we settled in, we headed back to the square to see about getting something to eat.
Rosa gave us the local scoop on where the best Cervezaria is (beer bar), and what wine to drink.  The locals don’t drink red around her (although that didn’t stop us from stocking up on some from the local shop).  The white wine to drink is a barbidillo – nothing like the vino verde of Portugal, and can’t say I’m a huge fan.
And as always, Michael finds interesting theme items to photograph.  He found the posters around Seville quite intriguing.
Although we walked pretty much everywhere, bike rental was a very viable option – all the major cities in Spain had the bike rental stations commonly spread through the city.  We saw lots of usage of the bikes – and as you can see there were bikes available, but also there are empty spots showing they do get used.