Friday, 20 August 2010
And finally I'm here. After what felt like forever travelling, I finally arrived in Madrid this morning - feeling more jetlagged than if I'd flown transatlantic - but having emitted much less carbon.
For those who don't know, I've taken a carbon challenge this holiday and have got here without flying. It involved only 3 trains - well, 5 if you include the 2 underground journeys - but unfortunately 2 of them were overnight. Never the best of sleepers at the best of time, I discovered that neither of them lived up to their name. Not much sleeping was done on either, although to be fair that was definitely down to me on the Paris-Madrid journey since it was actually pretty comfortable.
Anyway, I arrived here at 9.15 am, successfully navigated the Metro and found my way without too much confusion to my fabulous hotel not far from the centre of Madrid. And it was all the more fabulous since even though it was only 10 am, my room was ready and I was able to crash out for a couple of much needed hours.
So after my siesta and a shower, I was ready to hit Madrid. However, it was me that was hit as soon as I stepped outside the hotel. Don't worry not by anything more damaging than the heat - unbelievable, at least for a Scottish girl after the summer we've had. Hot or what! But undeterred I headed off towards Plaza Mayor to find the tourist information, first stop on any holiday. After that, it was a wander about until I realised I was heading in the direction of the Prado and I reckoned since I was there, I might as well head in.
What a delight - the art was fantastic but I must admit, the air conditioning was equally welcome!
But before I sound like too much of a philistine, let me just say that the art was staggering. Velazquez, Goya, Rubens, Bosch, el Greco, Durer - stunning! And somewhat scary too - particularly Goya's Las Pinturas Negras and Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. Look closely at the latter and see if you can find the innovative flower vase!
After the Prado, it was a wander back through the streets of Centro and Sol, past my hotel to catch the evening sunlight at the Royal Palace and then back 'home' for supper and bed. All in all, a good day - despite my jetlagged feeling - and even getting by with my school girl Spanish. Train ticket to Cordoba for next week bought from an assistant who didn't speak English - at least I think it's to Cordoba, but who knows?!
Watch this blog for more news on the great solo Spanish adventure. Day 1 and still going strong.