A Capital Day
Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
33Trip End May 23, 2012
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This is our first long distance (5 hours) trip on a Spanish "Renfe" train - and the Intrepid group file on to the same platform. The train is comfortable, although the cafe car comes nowhere close to it's French SNCF cousin! The menu is very limited, but for 3.90€ l get a bottled OJ, croissant and coffee.
The scenery is pleasant, much like yesterday's... soaring peaks, green fields, masses of apartments and smaller houses with patchwork roofs of red tiles. Scores of windmills are lined across the hilltops, turning gently and we pass a windmill factory. The blades stacked in the yard are enormous up close but the concept still makes so much more sense than burning coal..
The countryside opens out to vast expanses of green and fallow fields, interspersed with towns and industry. The train's motion and soft cacaphony of Spanish conversations send us both off to sleep for a while...
The trip takes us south-east through Tolosa, Vitoria, Miranda (where a second train is coupled to our three carriages), Burgos, Valladolid, Segovia, then Madrid's Charmatin station.
We transfer to the Metro and descend through vast concourses. Built to accommodate the 1982 FIFA World Cup, it is now all but empty. Our hotel (Room Mate Laura - funny name - https://mobile.ihotelier.com/mbe/mobile/13253/index?languageid=1) is a modern delight with designer touches and a kitchenette to boot! The further south we go, the better and cheaper the accommodation is becoming!
An afternoon walk leads us to Plaza Mayor - a major and elegant square that is unfortunately reduced to a tacky assembly point for numerous dubious costumed characters, others soliciting money and scores of artists drawing cartoons
The next find is La Mercado de San Miguel - the original market hall. It is now a bustling food hall, much like the Queen Vic night markets with a huge array of foods in an exotic venue. We circle the aisles and find enough nibblies to build a dinner, including delicious frozen yoghurt with chunky orange topping and churros and hot chocolate.
A slow amble home sees us stumble on a crowd gathering along both sides of a nearby street. A local lady tells us it is a military parade and we opt to not wait. Heading in the direction of the Palacio Real - the Royal Palace - we find the head of the parade and it's real reason... It is May 2 - Madrid Fiesta or Fiesta de la Comunidad de Madrid and numerous bands and soldiers on horseback in various colourful uniforms are just marching out. We score a great vantage point!
These later areas of the city show much more promise than the grungier areas we first met around the station... Tomorrow may well be a CAPITAL day !