Spain, Portugal and Morocco travel blog


So out we went to explore. First we found Plaza del Sol--the center of Madrid....& Spain. It is a large busy square with a fountain, several bronze smal statues, sidewalk cafes and stores. We crossed the square, found Calle (street) San Jeronimo, and walked down to Neptune's Fountain. He rides a chariot pulled by seahorses. To our right is the Prado. The lineup is short sowe join and buy tickets for Monday. We wander back to the hostel stopping for a bite along the way.

When we get back, Gord does not have the keys! The desk buzz us in and we tell them. You'd think we lost the them on purpose! We were lectured like 2 misbehaving children....not once but 3 times--twice by the same person. We checked the room, but no they are not there. Another lecture. We go have dinner, they lock our door. They let us back in, unlock our door...with another lecture. We both have a sleepless night wondering where the keys were lost.

So Monday a.m. we are up early--and leave the hostel at 7.30a. We stop for bkft and continue on to the Prado. We stop and ask if any keys have been found. No. We spend 3 short enjoyable hours at the Prado. We go back to the hostel to find our room has been unlocked all day. That's enough! We find another hotel--Hotel Castiĺlus--just down the street. They are dismayed at the way we have been treated. They give us a discount on both our parking and our room. We go back to the hostel and check out. To the question "Our keys?" We say any other hotel would have replaced them without treating us like miscreant children! And our room was unlocked all day. Not our problem! Where is our key?!! At this point I said "I work for a major travel agency and that's your problem!" To a weak "oh" we left. We were warmly welcomed by the Hotel Castiĺlus.

Afterwards we wandered back to Plaza del Sol, found a restaurant and had dinner. We took the Hop on Hop Off bus around town picking out places to visit today.

This morning Booking.com wants to know why we were a 'no show' at the hostel so we explained what happened.

Today we walked to the Palacio Real, waited in a short line and explored the small part open to the public. It is a huge rock building. The locally sourced rock staircase with lions halfway up and sculptures along with the opulence of the painted ceiling leave you unprepared for the 23 rooms shown. Some are opulent--like the royal navy room of King Carlos--some are gaudy like the porcelain room. All in all we had seen and read all in 1 1/2 hours. We walked around the grounds, had lunch in the cafeteria, found the royal gardens and caught the Hop on hop off bus to Plaza Mayor.

This plaza we found interesting. It looked to be the courtyard of a more interesting castle with its now converted red buildings on 3 sides and its tiled 4th side. And its entry gates. Now there are many sidewalk restaurants and little shops. Apparently the oldest restaurant in the world is here.

From here we went to the mercado close by. It was remodelled in the '90's. Here we found lots of tapas bars, wished we hadn't had lunch, tried some wine and paella--a rice dish--and continued on. We then caught the Hop on hop off bus back to the Retiro Park.

This is a scenic peaceful quiet park except for a couple of sidewalk musicians--accordian player and a trio. There are gardens, 2 'palaces', the Valazquez and the de Cristal. Both were closed to the public. There is a monument 'Alphonso XII' on the edge of a man-made lake, some outdoor restaurants, huge old trees--one from 1633--and beautiful walks. This is one of our favorite things in Madrid.

On our way out we stopped to talk to a couple from Adelaide Australia. They are at the end of a 5 week holiday.

From here we walked past the Prado remembering many of the neat paintings and sculptures in this huge art museum home to our hotel for 1 more night.



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