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Entries about madrid

Quick stop in Zaragoza! then on to MADRID.

Half way between Barcelona and Madrid we stopped overnite to break up the bus journey, then a few relaxing days is Madrid.

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Friday 25th October 13 (day 55)

Not a good start to the day, the elastic on my Keen sandal wore thru! bugger!

I was up on the street looking for bread at about 9am. Not much use as the supermarket did not open until 10 and the bakery a few doors down was also not yet open. So breakfast was going to have to wait until we arrived at the bus station. Due to this we decided to leave a little early so we would have time to find something to eat. When handing in the room key the receptionist handed us a breakfast voucher for breakfast at the hotel where we had spent the 2 previous nights. We were not told that breakfast was included in our room rate at the pension, but it made the high price a little more bearable. Lucky too that we had decided to leave for the bus station early so we still had enough time to have breakfast, catch the metro just 2 stops and still be early for the bus departure.

Barcelona was not looking like it was going to be enjoying a lovely blue skied day today like yesterday, so it was not so bad leaving. We were glad we had such a nice day yesterday.

Our bus journey today is just under 320km away to Zaragoza. This place was chosen by me only for the fact that it was approximately halfway between Barcelona to Madrid. I don't think there is anything really significant to stop at Zaragoza for except to break up the trip. Our bus departed Barcelona at 11.30 and with a 20 minute stop at a place called Mont Blanc we arrived at our destination just before 4pm. The countryside was not very exciting along the way and to tell you the truth most of it looked like desert.

Highlight for me was spotting not just one but two Osbourne Bulls (google if you don't know what that is).

There was a tourist office at the bus / train station who advised we could get a bus just outside to very close to the pension I had booked online last night. The station here was absolutely massive and seemed a little overkill for the size and destination of this town. I guessed that maybe it was a leftover from when Zaragoza hosted the world expo in 2008.

We waited about 15 minutes for a bus and only had to walk about 3 minutes to our pension, which was excellent and one of the cheapest places we have stayed all trip. 27 euros for the night.

The historical centre was only a 20 minute walk away and we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and exploring the town. Found a great bull ring and a very hard to miss massive basilica! I presume this town only has this impressive building because it is on the pilgrimage trail.

We walked along the river and came across a group of men in suites having a photo shoot using the stone bridge and the basilica as a backdrop. Of course Lyn and I in our daggy backpacker clothing jumped in next to them and were advised in broken English that they were shooting photos for financial magazine, and the photographer told us the guy he was taking photos of was 'man off the year!' They were good sports and had a bit of a laugh with us and even helped us later with taking a photo of us with my camera.

It was still quite warm here in the afternoon and evening, with the temp reading 22 degrees when we were walking home and that was after dark.

We have an early morning call tomorrow as we are booked on a bus at 8.50am to continue our journey to Madrid.

Saturday 26th October 13 (day 56)

It was still dark at 6.50am when the alarm went off. It was still dark at 7.30am when we waited at the bus stop for a bus to the bus station. It was still dark at 8.00am when we arrived at the bus station. It was still dark at 8.15am when we were waiting for our coach to arrive. It was only just light at 8.50am when the coach pulled out of the bus station commencing our journey to Madrid.

Again the scenery along the way was not much to recall. Of course we are in olive growing country so we did see millions of olive trees growing in groves across the hillsides for as far as the eye could see.

We arrived in Madrid just 10 minutes later than scheduled at 1.10pm. My friend Dean, who lives here in Madrid, was there to greet us and escort us via metro back to his and Alec's apartment where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. Ironic thing is, our visit has coincided with them moving to another apartment, so we are a bit in the way but they were nice enough to let us stay during the move. I think Dean must have sensed our desperation for the need of a washing machine and took pity on us. I promised we would not be in the way or need any entertaining, just point us in the direction of the washing machine and a bed for a few nights.

After dropping off our bags, we went out and had lunch which consisted of an assortment of tapas: including my personal favourite: ham. If any of you reading this have been to Spain and have eaten the cured ham you will know where I am coming from! We also had cheese, croquets, potato - all to die for and washed down with another Spain favourite of mine: tinto de verano (which my lovely niece describes as poor mans sangria - but she has never tried it so how would she know)! But I guess it's not far from the truth as it's red wine mixed 50-50 with lemon fanta! Yes I can feel you red wine drinkers cringing at the very thought of mixing red wine with soft drink, but it's very refreshing and a popular beverage here in Spain (as well as in Springwood, Queensland after I introduced Miss A to this concoction :-) cheers Miss A we had a couple for you).

After lunch Lyn and I went for a wander around down town Madrid. Place was crawling with tourists and locals alike. Being a Saturday and a sunny day to boot, every man and his family were out and about. Exhausted after our 2 hour walk we returned to the apartment for a little siesta before going out for dinner. Hey when in Rome, or more like when in Spain - have a siesta.

We left for dinner at about 9pm - early by Spanish standards - and met up with some of the boys friends. It was midnight by the time we had finished dinner and despite our afternoon nap the day was starting to take its toll and I for one was glad to see my bed.

Sunday 27th October 13 (day 57)

Leaving the boys to continue their packing and moving, Lyn and I took ourselves off on the metro to the El Rastro Sunday Market. Famous in Madrid this market has been going for 100's of years and you can buy just about anything from old rubbish to antiques to tourist rubbish to new stuff, clothes, shoes, bags, everything.

First up we stopped at a cafe to have coffee and a toasted sandwich as we needed the energy if we were going to see the majority of this market.

The sun was out and so were the crowds. This place is known for pick pockets and I was chosen by a particularly brazen girl as a would be victim. As I stood talking to Lyn about something we were looking at in a stall this girl with a poncho on stood close to me and attempted to unzip my bag. Lucky for me the zip tab had broken off my bag and it was not so simple to open, but even so she was not being very subtle about it anyway. Almost tugging at the zip I looked down at her hand and then looked her in the eye and she did not even bat an eyelid. Just looked straight through me as innocent as the day she was born. I should have yelled and made a fuss, but I was just so gobsmacked at the way she just looked directly at me and then casually walked away when she realised that I realised what she was doing. Extra careful after that, keeping a hand on my bag at all times.

We bought a couple of little things but mostly just spent the time wandering through the market having a look. Before we knew it, it was lunch time and in one of the streets of the market was a food outlet that people were lining up to get into so we thought this must be good. We also joined the queue and were rewarded with yummy open XXXX bread topped with our choice of: baby eels, octopus and ham with cheese. After eating them we understood why the locals were lining up for them.

We had a lazy rest of the day, with everything getting it's turn in the washing machine.

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Monday 28th October 13 (day 58)

Our main objective for today was to pack up some things we are carrying that we want to send home, take them to the post office and mail them away. We still have some camping stuff from the bike part of our trip that we want to keep but do not want to carry with us any longer.

The man at the post office was very helpful, sold us a box (which we didn't even manage to fill but the next one down was too small) and helped with filling in the paperwork. Getting rid of a bit of weight is a relief and hopefully will make travelling a little lighter. (Cobi this box should reach you in 4-5 weeks).

This done, we actually did nothing else for the rest of the day. I tell a lie, I did use this day to organize visa's etc for a future leg of our trip. Thanks again to Dean for leaving the wifi on at the old apartment for us to use. Not exactly sure what Lyn did with her day - between washing machine loading and unloading that is.

Later in the night we took the metro with Dean and Alec to see their new place and went to a local bar/restaurant to have dinner and say farewell. It's a shame we did not get to spend more time with the boys but we are really grateful for them letting us stay over in the middle of their move. These few days of catching up on washing and other travel housekeeping has been great. And just the fact of having somewhere to stay without having to do or go anywhere is a great way to wind down a little after constantly moving. Thanks Guys, sure we will be back in Madrid again - and we must plan that trip to Poland!

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 13:13 Archived in Spain Tagged madrid zaragoza Comments (0)

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