September 06, 2003


Well, we made it after the 36 hour odyssey from Waiheke Ferry to our hotel in Madrid. The flight went well, we suspect that the sleeping police in Roma caused our flight to be over an hour late! We would advise not to use the Metro here in Madrid if you have large and heavy bags as we did! Many many steps and stairs and a long way to walk in the airport.
The hotel is rather basic but has all the things we need. Took a walk this afternoon in the siesta, all was very quiet, and the temp only 34C with a pleasant breeze.
Our stroll took us through the Habsburg area of old Madrid, all within easy walking distance of hotel. The architecture is not too over done in the baroque style. Saw the Royal Palace and the large Cathedral opposite.
It was then back to the hotel for our late siesta, slept like there was no tomorrow. 8:30pm found us back out on the the streets looking for a drink and somewhere to eat. Everything at this time of day of course is so much more alive. The time now is 10:30, and we still have to find some place to eat. It will then be back to bed and more sleep!!

Our second day in Madrid started off in glorious sunshine although it has been cooler (30C) than in recent weeks, even the locals seem pleased with the passing of the 40C heatwave.
We started off with a walk to the Atocha station where we will leave from on Thursday for a day trip to Cordoba on the super fast Ave train (yes, call us trainspotters, but call us).
Then off to the Royal Botanic Gardens, masses of pictures there, some New Zealand plants too.
The Prado museum was next but we restricted ourselves to Flemish and Dutch masters (and the sole Caravaggio), it´s far too massive to do it all and there is only so much religious art one can take in. I loved the Bosch hallucinating paintings, they are great fun - you can easily see where Dali got his inspiration from.
Then on to the Thyssen-Boremisza Museum, a formerly private painting collection of excellent range, from early Italian renaissance to late 20th Century painters. My favourites were an atmospheric moonlit view of a wintry evening in a 16th Century Dutch village, and a painting of an art dealer´s shop in Antwerp, where two foppish gentlemen (one dressed in ´purest green´ - Percy-style) stand too closely together discussing one of the works. You can imagine they are mightily bitching about it. It´s fun to create your own stories and attach them to the imagery. I thought the whole museum was worth seeing, and we did, it was not too large!
We got back to the hotel and Ewen wasn´t feeling too well after eating a tuna sandwich, dear oh dear, so I got to do the internet duty. We haven´t eaten much in general, it´s a bit too hot to be hungry and I guess we need to acclimatise some more first. The jet lag was over soon after a good night sleep with the help of air conditioning.

Well I seem to have recovered from my ordeal yesterday! NEVER eat tuna! After a sleep, Hans and I were both wide awake at 1am, so we decided to go out for a walk, both heading in the direction of the gay district without a word to each other. This journey took us through a red light district, where the city fathers have seen fit to turn out the street lights! Back to the hotel by 3 am.
Today saw us up by 8:30am and off to see the archaeological museum. On the way we stopped for coffee and a bite to eat as the food at the hotel is a little inadequate. Having taken a chronological trip through Spain's past habitation we headed for the Retiro Mediodia Park. Here we strolled along paths beneath the shade of horse chestnuts, that are just showing a little autumn colour. Out of the park and along a street side book fair (permanent) to Atocha metro station where we took a train back to Plaza Puerto Del Sol. Found a Belgian cafe to have lunch in, I couldn't yet manage to eat all my Tapas fria, cold meats and cheese, Hans said that it wasn't as good as the one in Vulcan Lane.

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