Monday, January 13, 2014

A Madrid Streetwalker

UFF... HER FEET HURT, TOO.
I'm back in Fuengirola after an incredible first taste of Madrid. I had the privilege of staying with our friend Guadalupe in her beautiful home outside the city.

We spent most of each day exploring the amazing city, which constantly changes its face as you pass from one neighborhood to the next — from grand and impressive to intimate and charming. Public sculpture everywhere. Truly a fascinating, historic, and beautiful place.

Guadalupe and I walked everywhere (although we were late to meet a friend for lunch one day, so hopped on Metro, Madrid's subway system). I arrived Thursday around 3:00 and we logged 8.5 km (5.3 miles) in the next 2.5 hours (she's got a pedometer on her iPhone).

Guadalupe is a partner in a new business with four other professional women who have all been good friends for years. They plan to host people in their homes (in and outside the city) for a week of immersion in conversational Spanish (for all levels), which will include an insider's view of Madrid. I got to meet (and fall in love with) them all. I'll tell you more about that in a later post.

In the meantime, I'll just sit here with my feet up and share some photos. The weather was ideal for walking, but not ideal for picture-taking. (So I only got about 230 pictures.) Don't worry, though, I've narrowed it down. The first photo below is of the Royal Palace. It was built from 1738-1755, long after Madrid was wrested from Moorish rule by Alfonso VI, King of Castile, 27th great grandfather of our very own San Geraldo. I told them who I was but we still had to pay to enter ... and we weren't permitted to take any pictures once inside! (Click any photo to experience the grandeur.)

THE ROYAL PALACE.
NOW USED ONLY FOR STATE CEREMONIES.
MADRID CATHEDRAL (OPPOSITE THE ROYAL PALACE).
CONSTRUCTION BEGAN IN 1879 BUT STOPPED DURING THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR.
CONSTRUCTION WAS FINALLY COMPLETED IN THE 1950s.
MONUMENT TO JUAN VALERA Y ALCALÁ-GALIANO — AUTHOR, DIPLOMAT, POLITICIAN.
(SCULPTOR: HIS NEPHEW LORENZO COULLAUT VALERA) 
CIBELES PALACE (ORIGINALLY THE MADRID POST OFFICE, OPENED 1919).

SPANISH INDEPENDENCE WAR HERO LIEUTENANT RUIZ.
SCULPTOR: MARIANO BENLLIURE.
METROPOLIS: CLARK KENT AND LOIS LANE NOWHERE IN SIGHT.

It was a really special weekend and I wouldn't have missed it for anything, but it sure was nice to see San Geraldo waiting for me when I got off the train yesterday. It seemed like we had been apart forever. Dudo and Moose were clearly happy to see me, as well — although at first it was only because it was "treat time." Right now, however, they're both in the den with me. Moose is sound asleep nearby and Dudo has climbed on and off my lap about two dozen times carrying every one of his toys along with him. Ah, he just settled in for a nap. 

25 comments:

  1. impressive
    i hear there are a lot of pickpockets there

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    1. John:
      As in any big city, you've got to be aware (especially in those touristy areas), but I felt really comfortable there.

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  2. They say a 'change is as good as a rest', Mitch....and this looks like an incredible city to see and experience.
    And check our that post office!!
    Cats....they never 'admit' how much they miss you!!

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    1. Jim:
      That post office was stunning and there's so much more. I saw only a fraction of a fraction and photographed even less. Can't wait to go back. Oh, and the cats have admitted they missed me. I've been getting so much love and attention.

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  3. In the first pic are you sure that it wasn't one of those 'living statues'? I think you ought to have crept up behind her and shouted 'BOO!'. That would have 'exposed' her for what she was. Ha!

    We've been hearing a little about one of the Spanish royal princesses being involved (allegedly) in some sort of scandal, financial I think. Is it big news there - or just a yawn?

    On my returning home after one of my rare away trips I'm always most excited at being reunited with my 'kids', but they seem more interested in getting their usual food again and being back in their familiar routine once more. And I can go to hell for all they care!

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    1. Raybeard:
      That first statue did have that "look," but I don't think she'd be allowed to pose topless.

      Yes, the problems in the royal family are big news here. It was a topic of conversation Saturday night among the enlightened group of women I was with. (The one man in the group was a lot quicker to jump to conclusions.)

      I was a bit put out by the cats when I got home and all they wanted were their treats. But, since then, they have been doting on me...

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  4. Ooooooh, I've never been to Madrid! I want to go! I spent a few days in Barcelona once, but that's all. Love these photos :) How nice for you to have had a friend who lives there, to show you around.

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    1. Judy:
      Madrid was splendid. Can't wait to go back with San Geraldo for in-depth explorations. Drove by El Prado Museum, but didn't go inside. So unbelievably much to see. For Guadalupe, autumn is the most beautiful time in the city.

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  5. Twenty years ago I visited Madrid and the city stank like an ashtray. I saw many people walking around smoking two cigarets at a time. A few years ago I was shocked to see how the city had transformed itself; no smoking to be seen and the city was immaculate.

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    1. Stephen:
      I was surprised to see yet another Spanish city that was remarkably clean. Spain banned smoking in public places just before we came here to look for a place to live in 2010. It's so much more pleasant.

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  6. It looks very clean and not as busy as I would have expected. I like the third photo up, giving a glimpse of more of the city.

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    1. Andrew:
      I've got more photos to come that give a broader view of the city. It was very clean and well-tended. It was bustling in places. We stopped at the public market and I was almost overwhelmed by the numbers of people (but I got over it).

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  7. That immersion Spanish project sounds very interesting... Bill & I keep looking for new adventures.... sounds like our kind of thing. And.. happy homecoming! It's fun to travel but so great to be home again...

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    1. Sharon:
      I experienced the immersion program myself over the weekend and really enjoyed it.

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  8. Madrid is a wonderful city, we just loved it.

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  9. Very cool - and San Geraldo is from royalty (for real??)! You have exquisite taste in spouses!

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    1. Cheapchick:
      San Geraldo is "connected" to royalty way back in all directions (kings and queens of Scotland, England, Norway, Spain, Portugal...). Fortunately, he doesn't require anyone to bow or curtsey in his presence. Very humble.

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  10. So where do the Spanish royals reside?

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    1. Spo:
      They live in the Palace of Zarzuela, west of Madrid. They have a summer residence in Majorca (called the Palace of La Almudaina), which was built as an Arabian fort and became a royal palace in the 14th century.

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    2. Oh good, I was worried so.

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  11. The best part of being away is returning to love. Why yes, I am in a bit of a sentimental mood today.

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    1. Jacquelineand....
      I've been in a bit of a sentimental mood myself... and, even more, a grateful mood. I was treated with such warmth and kindness by Guadalupe and her family and friends, and then I got to come home to San Geraldo and the boys. Feeling very fortunate right now.

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  12. Ah, I had a cousin who lived in Madrid for years, and was never able to visit her then. It looks wonderful and how special to have a friend to show you around. And then, coming home again, the best of all.

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    1. Kristi:
      Timing can be the pits sometimes, can't it? We used to have the money to travel and not enough time. Now we have all the time in the world and not enough money. I'm glad we now at least live close to lots of new places for us to visit.

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