in Checking In, Travels

Spain, Part II

After a restless night, still not used to the time change, we awoke to start the day with a free walking tour of Madrid through New Tour. We met at Plaza Mayor and joined the English-version of the tour, led by our tour guide, Ramon Amoros.

Ramon, our Madrid tour guide

Ramon is a twenty-four year old Argentinian who has lived in Madrid for ten years, first coming to Madrid to study as an illustrator. When the Spanish economy tanked, he considered moving to Berlin but chose to stay in Spain. His brother suggested he take the tour guide gig and he has been doing it now for two years. He speaks fluent English and could easily pass as American. Leading tours is his only job and he is very good at it: a very smart, funny guy. His illustrations are quite impressive, too.

Ramon led us around key sites of Madrid and pointed out the various statues in the plazas we visited, interweaving his descriptions with information on the personalities involved. We heard about the Builder King, the Loser King, and also the Lazy King. We also learned how famed astronomer Gallileo Galelli was consulted to help build the world’s first bronze statue with a horse rearing up. Gallileo was the one who suggested the first half of the statue be hollow, with the full weight added to the hind legs. It was an impressive feat.

We visited a flamenco bar, stopped in for a long break at a sandwich stop, spent some time in front of the royal palace snapping photos, and viewed part of the original walls that once surrounded the city, all the while learning about the history behind each place. At the end I felt I had learned a thing or two about the country.

Seeing Madrid

After our walking tour we chilled out for a quick moment at our apartment. Then we headed out again to visit the park on the western side of town with an Egyptian tomb in it. Travis had wanted to see this place and Ramon told us it had some of the best sunset views in Madrid, too. We walked around the gardens to the top of the hill on the western edge and peered out over the city. A busker playing Spanish guitar sang close by and I bought his CD for 3 Euro.

Kelly and Hallie then left to go shopping while Travis and I waited around for the tomb museum to open. He and I waited for 45 minutes or so before being let in but it was interesting once we were in. Hieroglyphs told of ancient ceremonies and plaques in Spanish described the uses of the tiny rooms inside. The tomb itself was gifted to Spain and moved to this park in 1970 when it was in danger of repeated flooding at its original site in Egypt. It was a good taste of what we might see when we one day get to Egypt.

Our next venture out was the Prado museum where we viewed Picasso and Dali paintings. We also enjoyed riding the artsy glass elevators. Then we enjoyed a dinner off the beaten tourist path at La Buha, where we were the only ones who spoke English and dined on tortillas, tostas, and good wine, though Travis was not enraptured with his ham-heavy entree.

Madrid’s Egyptian tomb

That was about all we could muster for this day. We walked back to our apartment and were all in bed by 10 PM, again spending another restless night as our circadian clocks struggled with the time change and the holiday revelry continued into the night.