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Adventures of a short vet


SPAIN | Tuesday, 12 October 2010 | Views [974]

Most popular busker ever - Goatman!

Most popular busker ever - Goatman!

I forced myself out of bed early to have plenty of time at the train station in case there was any drama with the tickets (you never know with my luck!) but, apart from the expense, there was no trouble getting a train ticket to Madrid. Seems trains are expensive all over the world so you might as well ruin the planet & fly. 

This time I had no trouble finding Cat’s Hostel – a historic old building with amazing Moroccan-style walls, a central area with couches strewn around, and a nice bar, but cramped bedrooms and NO KITCHEN definitely lowered its appeal. Admittedly I didn’t check for a kitchen when booking it but you tend to assume that a hostel would have one – backpackers traveling on the cheap don’t want to have to eat out all the time otherwise we would all be staying in hotels! 

I spent the rest of the day exploring the town centre, visiting the Plaza Mayor (main square), and the Royal Palace, which was surrounded by cops and guards. I wasn’t sure if this meant there was something going on or if it was an everyday thing. I got back to the hostel just after dark and ended up spending the evening having a few drinks with a couple of Americans and an Aussie. They tried to drag me out and I was keen, until I realized the night out only BEGAN at 1am – usually when I get home! Yes, I have turned into a nanna. Though with a big day at the Prado Museum planned I was glad I piked when I heard them get back at 5am!

After a bit of a late start the following day I headed off to the famous Prado Museum, where I ended up spending over four hours taking in the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Valcez, Remys and many more – and I’m not even really into art! I do love the Realism/Romanticism styles though. I finally had to leave to find some food but had to find a cash machine first as I’d given the last of my money to some poor young guy from Lithuania who had just had all his stuff stolen on his first visit abroad. He’d foolishly left his bag at a table while going to the toilet in a café (“only for five minutes!”) and asked to borrow my phone to ring his mum for a money transfer. Poor idiot. Of all the places to leave your bag unattended! It may have been a scam (though he didn’t actually ask for money) but the guy was almost in tears and if he was acting then he earned every penny. I just hope that if I were ever in that kind of situation someone would help me out.

After buying some lunch I walked through Buen Retiro Park (Park of the Pleasant Retreat) and checked out the Crystal Palace and Velázquez Palace that had a random food art exhibition. It was pretty strange, but I scored a free ticket to the Rene Sofia Gallery so decided to check it out the following day. I finally stopped for dinner at the Plaza Mayor, which was hopelessly overpriced. Though I was glad when the dish I ordered in Spanish that came out looking like some sort of sea-slug turned out to be fried capsicum. Always a risk when you’re not quite sure what you’re ordering!

On my last day in Madrid I packed up and checked out by 10am, but was able to leave my gear in the hostel while I spent the morning checking out the Rene Sofia Gallery. This had more of a modern art theme which is not usually my cup of tea, but it was good to see more of Picasso’s later work. After killing some time in the sun I fetched my stuff and caught the metro across town to the Barajas suburb where Hostal Vicky was located. It was a bit of a walk through some deserted streets to the hostal, and I declined a lift from a random guy in a car (yeah right!). It was in a bit of a dingy area and there really is no other reason to stay there other than the free airport transfer, but the people were friendly and the room was really nice. I didn’t know where the tapas restaurant they recommended was, so instead wandered down to a corner shop and bought some bread and salami to go with my cheese and wine (which I’d bought for the previous night and then skipped as everyone went out). Not a bad dinner at all!

Tags: buen retiro park, crystal palace, madrid, prado museum, rene sofia gallery

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