Madrid, Spain – April 2, 2010
Today is Good Friday, a beautiful spring day. It is a holiday in Spain, so virtually everything is closed. Because of that, mom, Claude, Leslie, Tyler and I decided it was a good day to take the Madrid Vision bus tour.
We headed toward the city center of Madrid in a quest to find one of the buses. The red vehicles are double-decker buses with the top deck open-air. There are two routes; one is old Madrid and the other is modern Madrid. Each tour takes about 75-minutes. We ended up taking each tour. While riding the bus, one can listen to the audio of the tour in several different languages. One can get off and on the bus all day on the day for which the ticket was purchased. All in all, we thought it was not worth the 17€ (US$21.08) per person that we paid. As it ended up, it was really just transportation.
We got off our old Madrid tour bus at the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). Unfortunately, we could not tour the palace because it was closed due to the holiday. So, we took a few photos of the outside of the palace and the East Plaza. That plaza is notable because of all of the statues of former Kings of Spain.
From the East Plaza, we walked to the Plaza Mayor. One of the must-see business at Plaza Mayor is the Torre del Oro Bar. The business caters to those that love the sport of bullfighting and to curious tourists. Inside are several heads of famous bulls. Additionally, there are photos on most of the walls of matadors that were severely injured or killed while fighting bulls.
After some more shopping and a tapa at Plaza Mayor, we walked to the Plaza del Sol. Across the street from the plaza is the Kilómetro Cero (Kilometer Zero) marker. That is the point from which all distances in Spain are measured. While we were in the plaza, I was able to get a photo of Madrid’s signature bear and the strawberry tree statue, El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Madroño) and the iconic Tío Pepe sign. A madroño is sometimes referred to as a strawberry tree. It is actually a small tree or bush that produces a red fruit with a yellowish center. They are said to be sweet.
Leaving Plaza del Sol, we walked to Retiro Park. On the way, we passed by the Fuente de Cibeles and the Puerta de Alcalá. Once at Retiro Park, we found a small cafe at which we had a light lunch. After lunch, I took some additional photos in the park and then we all headed home. We were all tired after walking some three kilometers (1.86 miles).
The following day we took a quick trip to shop at El Rastro. A weekly flea market that begins near Plaza Mayor.