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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Madrid

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 09/08/2012 09:20:26

From Porto I took the train back to Lisbon and had 6 hours to kill before my 10 pm overnight train to Madrid. After a quick catch up with some of my friendly hashish distributors I went back to the square to find a restaurant for dinner. I ended up at Sol Dourado whcih turned out to be an excellent choice - a prosciutto and melon entree, rock bass main, incredible half jug of freshly made sangria punctuated by a free shot of delicious cherry liquor.

The overnight train to Madrid would have been very comfortable, if only I was a foot shorter. That being said - I did manage to get a fair bit of sleep on the 10 hour journey which is more than can be said for my past plane trips. After slugging it through "border control" (i.e. the door of the train - no-one even asked to see my passport between Portugal and Spain) I had arrived in my second country.

"Hmm, is it time to go warring yet? Senor Clopclop - are you ready to ... wait - did you hurt your freaking hoof again? You clumsy bastard!"

As foretold by AuntyGen - Madrid was rife with beggars and I was constantly approached whenever on the street. I quickly noticed that my iPad no longer had 3G access so I made my way to the local Vodafone store. I had originally requested 2 gigs (apparently pronounced "jiggers" over here) instead of just 1 when in Portugal, partly to ensure I wouldn't run out - and partly to hear the word "jiggers" repeated. Again, showing my ignorance, I was not aware that Vodafone Portugal is a completely different company to Vodafone Spain and of course it will not roam (how laughable to even suggest it). As they had sold out of pre-paid micro-SIM cards, my only internet in Spain will be hotel WiFi until I get to Valencia.

Even if these were just inventive beggars, making Elmo the taller of the two is inexcusable!

I had some great suggestions for Madrid from Carolyn (thanks!) consisting of the indoor fresh food market Mercado San Miguel, the Chocolateria San Gines and some rowing in the Parque el Retiro. Unfortunately I could only fit in two of these activities, so to be fair I did the first two in the order that Carolyn listed them

This meal from the fresh food market shows just how far I've come in terms of aquatic creature consumption ...

... while this just show that I love chocolate

"Please no, my wife requests I cut down on the amount of decapitated humans I consume."

I imagine the faded areas are the result of an over-eager museum cleaner on his first day

When I got back to the hotel I decided to engage in another local custom - and had my first siesta. I've been trying to fit so many activities into each day while I am here - I think I would certainly benefit from a daily siesta. Rested and relaxed, it was time to meet some locals.

A friend from work (thanks Andrea!) happened to know an ex-school mate that was living in Madrid, and hooked me up with a local connect. Paul and his lovely wife Isabel were fantastic hosts - I had a truly amazing night of tapas and wine, great stories, a meal of ox-tail and live music at a street fiesta. I learnt that tapas originated in the 13th century when a king noticed his subjects getting shit-faced too frequently and decreed that food must be eaten before each drink is consumed (the plate of tapas was provided on top of the drink - tapas means to cover). He also showed me the site of a cancelled construction of a pool where the disenfranchised youth were meeting to discuss their plans of social reform. Knowing that I had nothing planned for the next day, Isabel helpfully suggested that I visit her home town of Toledo - a thirty minute train ride away.

I woke up a little late, but without too much delay I was on my way to Toledo. Toledo was the original capital of Castile, and the architecture has been largely untouched since very early history. With limited time I took a "hop on, hop off" bus around the main sights and decided to have lunch in the town centre. I had my first taste of Menu Diario - a choice of two courses with dessert and house wine - and thoroughly enjoyed my gazpacho and pollo de la Toledo. I finished up my tour of Toledo with a visit to the Museo del Ejercito (the Army Museum) which was actually built on top of the remains of the Alcazar (a stone fortification from the 3rd century).

So much of Toledo remains untouched - please ignore the crane in the right of this photo

The bridges of Toledo all looked pretty sweet

After a quick train back I prepared for an early night - tomorrow I leave for Valencia.

This is the 3rd in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012

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