October 13-15, 2022
Madrid is on the move! We noticed it immediately as we arrived at the mega large Atocha Train Station—crowds of people, lots of traffic, fast pace! Our more than wonderful VRBO in the center of all the attractions and action was in a quieter pedestrian-only area; however, the restaurants and upscale shops drew lots of people traffic. Frankly, it was exciting to see the hustle and bustle—even past 10pm there were many people out and about.
Randy and I immediately went to a dry cleaners near our apartment. That was an experience that showed us how far behind we can be in certain areas. The establishment was ultra clean, and the workers all dressed in pressed white uniforms were visible in neat array with work stations that included presses and ironing boards and irons. It looked impressive. When we turned in our clothing, we were given a plastic card with the time the clothes would be cleaned and pressed, something like a credit card. We took it realizing it was different than what we get at home. Next day, Randy and Melisa went back for the clothes and reported that when they arrived, they simply inserted the card into a slot and the clothes racks began to spin and, wallah! the clothes appeared before them, a door slid open for them to remove the clothing, and out the door they went…Easy, peasy. The clothes were very well cleaned and pressed!
Being close to the Grand Via, Madrid’s shopping mecca with amazing architecture all around, we decided to see what that was about. We had to stop often to view the sculptures on the impressive buildings. The stores were jammed with shoppers—we were so surprised with this. Restaurants were packed. The Krahn’s and Standly’s went to eat at Spain’s oldest restaurant, “Sobrino de Botin“, famous for roast suckling piglet. They said it was very good! For lack of a better phrase, I would say our experience on the Grand Via was glamorous. As we strolled, there were demonstrations on the main boulevard. The one for pension justice for seniors was long and had many thousands of senior marchers. The one to bring awareness to the problem of human trafficking contained about a thousand Christian teens all dressed in black. Everything was peaceful and the marchers were drawing media attention.
The Plaza Espanã at one end of the Grand Via was wonderful. A long narrow expanse, it is a pedestrian park filled with flowers and trees and walkways. Madrid is full of beautiful parks. The Plaza reaches to the Royal Palace and Madrid Cathedral. Within the Plaza is a marketplace with neat rows of wooden stalls selling all types of goods. We saw the largest loaves of bread we have ever seen for sale. Before we visited the Royal Palace, we were able to witness the Changing of the Guard outside. Stately, yet, simple. Inside the Palace we were once again absolutely surprised with the huge scale and the beauty we saw. The interior rooms were easily as beautiful, if not more so, than the other grand palaces of Europe we have experienced. Ceramic work on moldings and sculptures were eye catching and colors within rooms were totally coordinated. The artistic tapestries woven by weavers from Brussels were breathtakingly beautiful.
A very short distance away from the Palace is another huge and beautiful park that contains a 2500 year old Egyptian temple, the Templo Dobod, a gift from Egypt to Spain. Pretty cool!
We were sad to leave Madrid! We ate well, had great experiences. We did not rush ourselves as we enjoyed a truly great VBRO in the heart of much activity and beauty!