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Real Madrid - Nos encanta España!

Days 73 to 76 Madrid

sunny 38 °C

The weather is HOT and we don't have air conditioning so trying to stay cool is a challenge - which we happily meet. We have AWESOME bars, restaurants and yummy food on our door step.

Venturing out for dinner on our first night, we fell in love with the area. This is the Real Spain!


Roaming the Plaza del Sol with street performers whose skills are on a whole other level, mariachi bands who are always off key, street vendors selling anything and everything. The crews selling knockoff handbags, sunglasses, hats and shoes, with eyes constantly scanning the crowds for police, laying out their fake wares on sheets tethered at each corner, ready to be whisked up and flee with the sacks thrown over a shoulder at a moment's notice.

I made friends with the local general store owner who happily sells me Beers, Wine, Cava - Jen's new favourite drink - and as I discovered, Spanish Sherry, the renowned Tio Pepe's nonetheless, which I thought was Dry White Wine, but was actually not too bad, over ice.

The TV has a tragically awesome HIT-TV channel streaming current and recently current hits. Neither Jen or I have watched music videos lately, so we receive an education on what the Kids are Doin' these days! It reminds Jen of Saturday morning Video Hits.

Our Apartment overlooks a bustling street right off Plaza del Sol which is busy 24 hours a day. After our daily siesta, we open our double french doors (once the extreme heat between 3 -5 pm passes) and let the sounds and smells of Madrid envelop us, and then we head out for dinner.


Our first morning it's off to do a Segway tour to get a quick feel of Madrid and also go to the Bernabéu, home stadium of Real Madrid, voted by FIFA as the greatest football club of the 20th Century. I actually thought it should have gone to Collingwood but I will let that slide. Given it was FIFA, voting had to have been rigged.

We met our guide to get our instructions and crash course in How to Segway.


We have some apprehension as to the process of hopping on one of these contraptions. But how hard could it be we asked ourselves? The sum total of our briefing comprised the guide saying, "Step on, here is the stick, push forward, it goes forward, pull back it goes backwards, move left it goes left, move it right it goes right, OK, practice over there." directing us to an adjacent laneway.


One minute later, "Okay, be careful, leave 1 m space, don't hit anything and let's go!". Great safety talk!


Vamos, We're off.


[A bit difficult to take photos on Segway but this was the most quintessential Retro building I've ever seen]

We then speed for the next 45 minutes zipping through the streets of Madrid - with our guide pointing out key city features - to arrive at the famous Bernabéu.


For the Non-World Game followers, Real Madrid is Cristiano Ronaldo's current team and has been by far the most successful football club in the world, ever.


11 Copas de Europa, 19 Copas del Rey, 32 Campeonatos de Liga Champion, 1 Copa Mundial de Clubes de la FIFA. The stadium holds 85000 people and when full of screaming supporters it would be intimidating.


The Tour is very well done, starting with a view from the top section.


What we would ordinarily call the NoseBleed Section, but when en Español...


The tour is very well put together.


The anticipation builds as we enter the trophy room, a multi media extravaganza, with display cabinets overflowing with trophies and memorabilia through the ages, video displays of past and present players, famous matches and the history of the Club.


The presentation was interactive, and walking through the area it gave you a huge sense of awe and the tradition behind it.


I could have spent all day in there watching the clips from historic matches and the theatre of penalty shoot outs and great goals.


I have previously talked about the great Puskas, one of my father's idols and a Hungarian Legend. He played 254 games for Real Madrid and won 3 European Cups, so a little link back to my Dad.


A most impressive collection of silverware.


All of this culminates in the room everyone comes to see. As we walk the tunnel, through pulsing lights and the sound of a thumping heartbeat, gets everyone aroused.


We enter the darkened sacred inner sanctum which houses Eleven gleaming Copas de Europa,

along with Ballon d'Ors awarded to legends of the game each year.


No other side has come close to matching the success of this team, ever. FIFA therefore created a special award, Copa Mundial de Clubes de la FIFA for the Best Club of the 20th Century.


We get to wander the change rooms.


There's plenty of twinkling eyes and giggles from the girls, knowing that Ronaldo has been naked - RIGHT HERE!


Compared with the visitors quarters, they do have a very nice set up.


"We never want to look too far ahead. We take one game at time!"


Then out through the ramp to ground level - where the magic happens.


Looking back up into the stands, its easy to see this as the modern Colosseum where today's gladiators fight with honour and determination (and for rewards far greater than any Roman Emperor could have imagined) to the fanatical cheers of passionate supporters.


I was in heaven but Jen also got a kick out of seeing what a club like Real Madrid is like and how the locals love this Club so much.


Having Ronaldo, probably one of the two of the best players in world toady, also helps.


Its a wonderful rivalry between Madrid with Ronaldo and FC Barcelona with Messi - Spain is almost the Futbol centre of the Universe. I visited a few sports shops in both Barcelona and Madrid. Not surprisingly, they stock almost exclusively EVERYTHING FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, and very little else.

The ride on our Segway was just as quick back as we spent a little longer at the Stadium as we planned. You all will be happy to know we got back safely, no accidents, no falls, no near misses.

Lifestyle in Spain is very different to back home. People wake up late, things slow down between 2 and 5 pm, and come alive around 9pm. Dinner kicks off with a sangria and normally finishes around 11.30 pm.

When in Spain....do as the locals.

Next day, two words......day off.

Slept in! Headed out at lunchtime to something that should be introduced in Australia. It's Museo de Jamon. Vegetarians avert your eyes.

Basically a delicatessen with a stand up bar serving Bocadillas (sandwiches) as simple as can be with gloriously rowdy waiters yelling your order to the crew in the back.


Within moments, fresh bread, with your choice of cured ham cut off the bone and local cheese for €1.50 and €.90 Cervesa appears in front of you. No butter, mustard, lettuce or other fancies.

You get a little appetiser when you order (a bowl of crisps, a mini hamburgesa or olives) .

There are hundreds of smoked and cured leg hams ageing in tiers hanging from the ceiling.

The noise and chatter is a glorious messy atmosphere.

Local workers, office people and tourists roll in and out all day. We ate here a couple of times - the Bocadillas were amazing and for the sheer entertainment of the waiters and the customers. Today we got takeaways heading off for a picnic in the park for a siesta under the trees.


The park is near the Palacio Real Espania and the Catedral Al Mudena.


Reminds me of Buckingham Palace


Despite it being baking hot, its cool in the gardens.


Back to our apartment with a stop off near the Plaza de Mayor coming across the Peluqueria de Caballeros. What's that you ask?

It's a barber shop and I needed a haircut. Apparently this is one of (or could in fact be) the oldest barber shop in Madrid.


No one spoke English but a few gestures, and the barber taking one look at my head, we were good to go. The old photos on the wall of well dressed and likely important clients, telling of its history as the prime barber shop of of its day. Once it was a long room with 30 barber chairs lined up. Whilst Barber shops like these are making a resurgence back home, its a place where tradition is its pride, not a fad for hipsters. Great value at with €12 euros and the barber was meticulous with the little hair I have.


Emboldened by our Segway hire, we elected to hire bikes for the day. A five hour bike ride around the outer area of Madrid.


As Madrid is very bicycle friendly, it was nice to be able to stop and start at will and especially enjoy two huge parks that are only 2 km out from Plaza Del Sol to roam around.

We visited: Palacio de Cristal, Garriera De St Jeronimo, Paseo De Prado, Estanque, Templo de Bod, and back to the Palaceo Real Espania for a lovely lunch of Tapas.


We were just in time for Turtle Feeding


"I like Turtles"

Dinner was in our local street that we've come to love and it had to be Paella. Again we washed down our food with sangria, and the paella traditional and delicious with the streets always alive.


Overall we found Madrid to be closer to what we hoped Spain would be. Food, culture, vibrant, alive, friendly and great place to hang out. Our Spanish is kind of getting better but so many people speak English now, we often get tongue tied, as we figure out what we want to say in our heads, start to speak only for them to answer in English - so a weird Spanglish ensues.

Next stop will be Casabermeja, most likely the opposite as this small town is away from the tourists and very traditional.

Travel day to Casabermeja. If you go to the map, it's 1 hour bus ride north from Malaga which is the start of the Costa Del Sol. The main beaches run from Malaga all the way down to Gibraltar a distance of about 140 km. Overall the trip to Casabermeja went well and was made simpler with the instructions from our host Luis.

Although, it did not start off well as we entered the subway at 6.15am. After buying our tickets to get to the train station, 3 metro stops away we read the notice board that said the line was closed down for refurbishment and we had to either take a bus or take another line. The joys of travelling on your own and we had to catch a train in 1 hr time. Plan b into action, catch a taxi. Disaster avoided and we're on our way.

Hola Casabermeja, home for the next 13 days.

Posted by tszeitli 05:26 Archived in Spain Tagged food bikes madrid hot tapas sangria segway cava cervesa

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Good grief! I could have easily thought your first several paragraphs were about China, minus the Spanish signs, of course. I often think how the human nature essentially is the same, although each culture expresses differently.
Can't believe you first rode Segway in Spain! I tried it in China in 2010, but received no safety caution whatever, as you could imagine. It is really fun. Tom looks like a terminator in that photo. :-0)

by Angela Zheng

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