Yo habla Englais?

Trip Start Sep 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Friday, September 17, 2010

Hola! Yo Habla Englais?

That was the phrase that I used most often in Madrid this past weekend. One quick witted airline clerk responded, “Poquito, yo habla Espana?” I responded, “Un poquito, poquito!” Not surprisingly, you can get by with a few words, phrases, smiles and gestures in almost any language.

Arriving in Madrid at 9 a.m. local time after our 10 hour flight from NYC, we were dragging. Our flight was delayed on the ground at JFK due to thunderstorms for three hours. Everyone was happy to escape the airplane upon arrival. A quick trip on the subway to central Madrid and a short taxi ride put us into our room at Hostal Triana, which occupies two of six floors of an old building a block from Plaza del Sol. Nap time for 4 hours.

Friday evening we wandered around sampling tapas and wine and just checking out the scene in the immediate neighborhood. It is always a culture shock coming to Europe. The architecture, the layout and size of the streets, the people, the language all seen so very exotic. Every corner you turn is another monument or architectural masterpiece. We finished off the evening by attending “Ballet Flamenco Madrid”, an entertaining mix of Flamenco, modern dance and ballet. This took place across the small plaza from our room.

The Hostal Triana is centrally located between the two top sites in Madrid, the Prado and the Royal Palace, home of King Carlos. Saturday morning we walked to the Prado right at opening time, avoiding most of the crowds. After viewing hundreds of paintings and sculptures, most notably the Spanish masters, Goya, Valenzuela and El Greco, we were ready for a break. So, we jumped on the “hop on- hop off” double decker tour bus and saw the sights of Madrid, while resting our feet. The “Palacia Real” is the home of the Spanish monarchy and they open about 15 rooms for public viewing. Arriving around 3 p.m. put us in a line for about 20 minutes for tickets, but after that the crowds really spread out. The wealth that was invested in the care and keeping of the monarchy was astounding. But, then again, look at the White House…..

Saturday night started with an all you can eat buffet, the Hawaiian state sporting event. The Spaniards wouldn’t stand a chance in competition with the local bruddahs back home in Hawaii nei. The selections were tasty and identifiable, a real bonus. After our feast we jumped onto the ol’ double decker for another tour around town under the lights. The monuments really are spectacular all lit up. We “hopped off” at Plaza del Sol amidst the thousands of Madridlenos who stroll about, seeing and being seen. A seat at a corner café is prefect vista to watch the flow of humanity. Most of the strollers will start looking for a restaurant around midnight, most live entertainment in clubs starts at 23:45, we are not used to this lifestyle.

Sunday was sleep in day….arose at noon local time. A quick takeout lunch and a tour of the Sunday flea market. They shut down a half dozen streets in the antique shop area and put up 10’ by 10 booths chock a block in about a square mile. Like the states there is a lot of repetition in goods offered, scarves and “pantaloons” were the prevalent offering, but everything from shoes to junk and stuff were displayed. This is a good time to mention that Madrid is built upon a bunch of rolling hills, we went down one street and up the next…great exercise.

Sunday night is the night for bull fights. A quick ride on the subway deposited us at the Plaza de Toro. Inexpensive (10 euro) tickets put us in the sombre (shaded) section close to the action. Bull fighting appears to be a very stylized ritual. I will give a brief description, the squeamish and PETA supporters should log out now First, the bull enters the ring to the applause of the spectators. El toro is then teased by a half dozen matadors who are either trying to get him excited or worn out, I don’t know which. The primary matador then takes over to entice the bull to execute several daredevil passes through the cape. At this point the Pescadores enter the ring on padded and blindfolded horses. Their role is to wound the bull by spearing them with a lance near the spine, while the bull is trying to gore the padded horse. Two wounds per session and lots of blood flow. This would seem to cause the bull to lose strength as they are slowly bleeding out at this point. The brave matador re-enters the fray, enticing El Toro with cape fluttering, pelvis thrusting and verbal taunts to charge the blood red cape. Next come the colorful skewers administered to the back of the bull by one or more matadors. They goad the bull into charging them by waving the skewers and then they feint, run or jump out of the way at the last second, and thrust the skewers into the back of the bull, causing additional blood flow. The primary matador steps back in to give the bull some more cape exercises and once this becomes tiring for either the bull, the matador or the crowd, he bring the sword into play. The now weakened bull stands in front of the matador who has raised the sword above the cape, if the bull won’t charge the matador will lunge. The goal appears to be to bury the 28” blade into the back of the bull thereby hitting vital organs and ending its life. For the three fights we watched, this happened only once, necessitating additional swords, stabbings and blood. After the bull is mortally wounded two or three matadors harass him until he falls to the ground and then one of them administers the coupe de gras by plunging a dagger into the neck at the base of the skull. Much fanfare and cheering take place as the carcass is dragged from the arena by a trace of mules. Okay, been there, done that, didn’t bother to buy the t-shirt.

On to Lisbon in the morning.
Slideshow Report as Spam


nancy on

Great pictures - didn't you love all of the fountains in Madrid. Glad you're having so much fun. I didn't have the right blog address so Dave just sent me the updated one - now I can get your updates. Have a big Margarita for me :-)

Brigitte on

Enjoy Spain - I would like to join you!
Drink wine and live the good life!

PJ Value on

Thank you for sharing this Grand Adventure with us!!!
Wish we could be there as well!!!

Linda on

Wow! How awesome!! You folks are just an example of what we all need to do.

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