Downtown Madrid

Downtown Madrid

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.

Enjoying the ride on the hop-on-hop-off bus.
The view north on Paseo de la Castellana toward the Obelisco de la Caja u Obelisco de Calatrava (Obelisk of the Box or Obelisk of Calatrava).
The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu the home of the Real Madrid Football Club.
The Fuente de los Delfines (Dolphin Fountain) at the north end of Calle de Serrano.
A building on Calle de Serrano with multiple flags.
The Metropolis Building on Gran Via.

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.

The Prince’s Gate at the Royal Palace.
The Palacio Real in Madrid.
Two of Los Reyes Españoles de la Plaza de Oriente (The Spanish Kings of the East Plaza).
Two more of the Spanish Kings.
Another pair of Spanish Kings.
Yet another pair of Spanish Kings.
Y dos mas!
The monument to King Felipe IV near the Royal Palace. He reigned from 1621 to 1665.

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.

Inside the Torre del Oro Bar at Plaza Mayor.
Tyler and his new invisible friend at Plaza Mayor.
The monument of King Felipe III at Plaza Mayor. He reigned from 1598 to 1621.
Detail of the monument.
Refrigerator magnets galor near Plaza Mayor.

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.

The Kilómetro Cero (Kilometer Zero) at Puerto del Sol (Sun Gate).
The monument to King Carlos III at Plaza del Sol. He reigned from 1759 to 1788.
The iconic Tío Pepe (Uncle Pepe) sign at Plaza del Sol.
This is El Oso y el Madroño (the Bear and the Madroño), the symbol of Madrid at Plaza del Sol.
Another view of El Oso y el Madroño.

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).

Spanish and European Union flags flying at the
Fuente de Cibeles (Cibeles Fountain). Cibeles is a mythological Greek goddess of nature and fertility.
Detail of the Fuente de Cibeles.
The Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate).
Happy to be sitting down at Parque de El Retiro (Retirement Park).
The large pond at El Retiro. In the background is the monument to Monument to King Alfonso XII. He reigned from 1874 to 1885.
One of the major paths in the park.

The following day we took a quick trip to shop at El Rastro.  A weekly flea market that begins near Plaza Mayor.

Spring has sprung at our home in Pozuelo.
Riding the metro to Madrid’s city center.
Shopping at El Rastro.

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