Madrid (1)

Trip Start Sep 11, 2015
Trip End Oct 26, 2015

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Where I stayed

, Comunidad de Madrid,
Friday, September 11, 2015

Random things that I noticed in Madrid...

- People are just as glued to their phones here as in the Netherlands or maybe even more so. Many of them almost bump into you while walking because they only have eyes for their phone.

- The unwritten rules about affection in public are way different here. People young and old are always (French) kissing and touching. 

- Aargh! Over here they have the "beer bike" too! :-/

- I remember now, shops are open until 9 or 10pm. Quite practical for the shopper. 

Friday 11 September

Landed at 2.30pm, reached hotel at 5pm.
I have a tiny but complete and affordable private hotel room (Hostal La Bañezana) in Calle de la Cruz just southeast of the famous (Plaza Puerto del) Sol. The area is very touristy but close to many sights and convenient for reaching other areas. 
On my second stay in Madrid next week I will have an apartment in the cool multicultural area Lavapies. 

San Miguel food market
Walked around, chatted with some Belgian ladies who gave me a tip about Mercado de San  Miguel, a nice food market which turned out to be lovely. I told them about the flea market they should try and visit Saturday.

Also saw Plaza Mayor (a bit boring and very touristy), and spent time reading my book on a nice terrace on a square. Got free snacks with every drink. Had my first 'tinto de verano', yum! Red wine mixed with Fanta lemon.

The hammam did not have a timeslot for a massage, only two hours later. 
I was tired from lots of walking and went to hotel instead, and watched a Disney movie in Spanish, with a cold beer I bought in a shop.

 Saturday 12 September

The dark roll-down window cover had me wake up at 9.30am thinking it was still the middle of the night. But when I learned the time I was rested enough. :-) 

Changed from shorts into long trousers after all and I'm glad I did. Though it was a warm day with hot periods and sun, there were cooler moments when I was in the wind and shade. And sitting down is sometimes uncomfortable with bare legs on wrinkly seats.

Walked to Atocha train station because that is where I need to collect my rental car tomorrow. The old station is beautiful and has a botanic garden in the middle. Also found the car rental place (quite well hidden!) where I need to be tomorrow. Good thing I now knew where to find it. 

Flea market & artisan market
It was a longer hike than expected to my main plan for the day: the monthly flea market called 'Mercado de Motores' in the Museo de Ferrocarril (railway museum). It was fantastic!

Outside were the 'amateur' vendors with real flea market stuff. I bought a nice blouse for €5.
Indoors were multiple historical trains, and the professional vendors who sold handmade art, jams, olive oil, furniture, etc.

There were various seating areas indoors and outdoors where you could enjoy fresh food and drinks. I lounged in a lazy beach chair for an hour or so, sipping cold beers and reading my book and people-watching.

Fashion photo expo 
After this I went to two exhibitions in Thyssen museum. One showed lots of work by one of Spains most famous 17th centrury painters, Zurbarán. Many religious paintings. Nice for a quick look, but it soon bored me. 
The other expo was a collection of fashion photos used in Vogue over the years that were inspired by (or composed alike) famous paintings. This was a great exhibition! One of the photos was a really good one by Dutch Erwin Olaf. The others were also inspiring, funny, touching. 
I was surprised how many young girls were taking pictures of themselves beside those expo photos. Apparently no picture is complete without your own face in it! Selfiiiiieeee!

Lovely Retiro park
I was indecisive for a while: another art gallery in a whole different district (Malasaña) and check out that supposedly cool district? Or laze about in the big Retiro park nearby? 

I was a bit tired so I decided to opt for the Retiro park, which was lovely. 
It has very crowded parts and very quiet ones. Not evenly spread out. Weird, how people always gravitate together and most of them seem to love crowds.

I enjoyed the cold drink I had bought from a kiosk and read my new book (finished previous one), first on a quiet bench. Then when it got cold in the shade, I went to the sunny steps of the monument and and watched all the people in rental boats in the big lake in the park, some teenage boys were playing and trying to get their friends wet under a fountain and trying to impress girls in another boat of course.

Then went to the gay district of Chueca to eat, hoping to find a really gay vibe but it didn't feel 'more' gay than other parts of the center I had been, which also feel fine and have lots of gays in the streets. I had some pintxos in a bar, but solo dinner is never one of my strong suits. All the things I did in daytime, I love doing solo. But nighttime bars and dinner, not so much. And Spaniards are group animals so the contrast is big.

Took super crowded metros at 10pm and went back to hotel to chill and download photos off card.
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