R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > Madrid
Christmas 2008, Madrid © R. Craig Collins, 2008/9
Travelblog (My notes of the trip, and PICTURES!)
To Madrid Map
To hotel, museum, and tour details
To Reservation Detail, maps
5:00 Hair cuts
1:30 Drive to Houston
Rodeway Inn, Humble
$72.95 + tax
US Airways 740
Metro Passes €55.37
AeroCity Transfer €24
Hotel Persal €556
free after 17:00
Tour of Segovia/Avila
View from Los Cuatro Postes
Visit Avila's San Vicente Basilica,
11th century city walls and 90 towers
11th century Alcazar
AeroCity Transfer €24
10:30 Check in
US Airways 741
US Airways 3321
Rodeway Inn, Humble
$58.45 + tax
Gracie turns 19
Click Persal for our details
Click City Tour for our details
Click Palacio for our details
Click Reina Sofía for our details
Click Prado for our details
Click Segovia/Avila for our details
Click Thyssen for our details
||The Hostal Persal is in a building dating to 1871 which preserves its original structure, and has 80 bedrooms.
The Hostal Persal is located in a pedestrian area in the Barrio de las Letras, in the very heart of the historical and tourist center of Madrid, between the Prado and Palacio Real.
The Persal is beside the Plaza de Santa Ana, and is only 100 meters from the Metro and Puerta del Sol; also, the Persal is very close to the shopping of Plaza Mayor and the Thyssen and Reina Sofía museums...
Discover the magic of Madrid on an introductory afternoon tour that covers all the highlights. You will discover that Madrid is a multifaceted city, from its Arab origins, the court days during the reigns of Phillip II and Charles III, through to the heady nightlife of present-day Madrid.
This afternoon tour is perfect if you're a first-time visitor to Madrid, giving you a well-rounded introduction to the city's sights and leaving you with the morning free to explore Madrid on your own.
Tour departs from Plaza de España no.7 Madrid. The closest Metro Station is Plaza de España (Line 10), exit Leganitos. From there you'll drive along Madrid’s famous avenues, including the Gran Via and Castellana, to famous squares such as Plazas de España, Puerta del Sol and Puerta de Alcala. You'll also visit Madrid's historic quarters and famous parks, including Casa de Campo and Retiro. The tour also takes you past the university, the bull ring and the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home of the famous Real Madrid football team.
The tour ends at Colon Square, where you can stretch your legs and grab some refreshments at the famous Hard Rock Cafe.
€10 Guided, €8 Self Guided
Located in Madrid, near the Atocha train and metro stations, at the southern end of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art (located along the Paseo del Prado and also comprising the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza).
The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Certainly the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's great painting Guernica. The Reina Sofía also has fine collections of the works of Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Julio González, Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tàpies, Pablo Gargallo, Lucio Muñoz, Luis Gordillo, Jorge Oteiza, José Gutiérrez Solana and many other significant artists.
Prado Museum text and image from Wikipedia
9:00-19:00 €6 * 4
free after 17:00
The Museo del Prado is a museum and art gallery , and features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of more than 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects and works of art. Sculpture is represented by more than 700 works and by a smaller number of sculptural fragments.
|Tour of Segovia/Avila text from Viator
Soak up Spain's sensational history on a day trip to Avila and Segovia. With the option to indulge in a gastronomic lunch, this trip is a feast for all the senses!
On your day trip from Madrid, you'll stop at hilltop Los Cuatro Postes to admire superb panoramic views before visiting Avila's San Vicente Basilica. From October 2008 the tour also includes a visit to Avila's cathedral.
Ancient hill-top Avila has been declared a Unesco "Heritage of Mankind" city, and is famous for its intact city walls and 90 towers dating back to the 11th century. The city was the birthplace of the mystic writer Saint Teresa of Jesus (1515–82) and is an important pilgrimage site.
Next, it's on to Segovia to see one of the best Roman-era monuments on the Iberian Peninsula – Segovia's incredible aqueduct. Built in the time of Augustus, the aqueduct has 118 arches and is 10 miles (16 kilometers) long, although just a fraction of its length remains visible today.
Segovia is also famous for its Alcazar, a beautiful 11th-century medieval fort that inspired the design of the Disney castle. Step back in time and imagine the medieval tournaments that once took place and the heroic knights who fought here.
On this day trip you have the option of including a tourist-style lunch
10:00-19:00 €6 * 4
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, or in Spanish Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, is an art gallery in Villahermosa, near the Prado Museum in Madrid. It is known as a part of the "Golden Triangle of Art", which also includes the Prado and the Reina Sofia galleries.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza fills the historical gaps in its counterparts' collections: paintings by Duccio, and his contemporaries, and works of the early Flemish and Dutch painters like Jan Van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Holbein. Other highlights include works by the most famous Renaissance and Baroque painters, including Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Murillo, Rembrandt and Frans Hals and wonderful portraits by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Vittore Carpaccio.
Also important for the Museum's collection are Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by artists like Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh, as well as twentieth century masterpieces like a Cubist work by Picasso
to Picture of Diane at Homecoming
to Christmas in Austin Pictures
To Reservation Details and other maps
Dec. 25, 2008
12:30-1:40, Lunch at Jack in the Box, on the way to Houston
Tacos, etc. ($11.96)
4:15, stop in Conroe for a snack and gas ($3.54)
5:15, arrive at the Rodeway Inn in Humble, room 109 ($85.95)
5:15-7:20, Dinner at Denny's ($30.10)
Not too many places open, and this one had just a horrid wait for the food
Lots of soup, Slams, and Diane tried Pancake Puppies, hush puppies made with Pancake batter
7:30, we forgot to pack an alarm clock, so we found a CVS and bought on, ($9.73)
December 26, 2008
8:30, Breakfast at Rodeway Inn, mostly juice and pastry
9:20, back to CVS to kill time and let Gracie by some vitamins
10:30, check out of hotel, drove a few miles to Preflight parking lot, then took shuttle to IAH. Checked in at kiosk, and got our planned seats to Philly, and our boarding passes to Madrid. Not too bad getting through security, but a bit of a pain to hold passports, laptop, liquids, shoes, and bags. Hope the liquid rule goes away soon. Grabbed lunch at food court, girls got McDonald's® while the grown ups got mexican at Panchito's. ($22.92).
1:42, Gate A17, scheduled departure time, we finally started boarding US Airways Express #3136 about 1/2 hour late.
As we had seats at the very back of the plane, we boarded with the first group on the jet puddle jumper, and made it to our seats at the back left of the plane, dropping our carry on as we went. Basic flight, no frills or food service, got to Terminal B about 6:30, and made our way to Terminal A.
6:45, grabbed some pizza at Famous Familgia ($18.34)
8:10, began boarding US Airways #740 Boeing 767 right after First class folks, as again we had the back left of the plane.
8:55, near on time departure; offered chicken or pasta for dinner, and watched "Journey to the Center of the Earth" on the cabin screens, no seat back entertainment here.
December 27, Saturday
Pastry and tea/coffee for breakfast
10:15, near on time arrival at Terminal 1, but had to wait for about 30 minutes for gate to be put in place.
After very quick trip through security and Passport control, ran to Terminal 2 to pick up our 3-day Metro passes, for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
11:10, located Aerocity pickup point, but driver was late.
11:35, boarded a beat up Nissan van, and passed Parque de Retiro, Puerto de Alcala, and Banco España.
Passed the hotel a few times as driver circled area which is a pedestrian zone with pop up street blockers. Finally he backed down a street to drop us off. (€24,00+1,00)
12:30, checked into a great room, #116, actually a mini suite, with wall dividing the two bedrooms, one floor above ground level.Wall mounted TV, and a little balcony for each window.
View from our room, Madrid is very clean, but the graffiti artists do make there mark, usually on fences and metal shutters.
The girls on the balcony
13:00, walked north about 3 blocks to the Sol metro station, near Puerta del Sol, and bought a 10 ride ticket to get us to and from the tour. (€7,00)
Got to Plaza de España and located Julia tour office south of the park. We traded in our vouchers, then strolled up the Gran Via and had lunch at VIPS. We had jamon y queso toasties and bottled water (€27,20) before returning to the plaza to explore the Christmas fair.
14:45, headed back to Julia, where we joined a Trapsatur bus for our panoramic city tour.
Our first stop was Templo de Debod, near Museo Cerralbo, an Egyptian temple donated to Spain for the help with the Aswan Dam.
From here we walked to the south side of the park, where we could see the Palacio and Catedral on a hill overlooking the gardens and the west side of Madrid.
From here we drove down past the Palacio and Catedral, past San Francisco to Puerta de Toledo... part of the old City wall.
From the southwest part of the city, we drove back up to the center, passing the old city hall, Plaza Major, the Puerta del Sol area, then by the Plaza Santa Ana, near our hotel. Heading north east, we passed , the Banco de España, new City Hall, the Neptune's fountain near the Thyssen, then down the Prado, passing the Prado and Reina Sofia museums, then back up to the Cibeles fountain in front of the City Hall, passing the Puerta del Alcala and the Parque de Retiro we had seen earlier. (Pictures of these sites are included later, when we visited them on foot.)
We stopped at the Romero Diaz store, where we saw a flamenco dancer, sampled the Spanish liqueur Licor 43, or Cuarenta Y Tres (Spanish for "43"), which is made from citrus and fruit juices; it was a bit strong for our palettes.
From here was drove through the Salamanca district out to the Moorish styled Plaza del Torros bull ring where a circus was set up.
Inset show aerial view, from Google Maps.
Then we drove past the home of Real Madrid, the local soccer team, Bernabéu.
The insets show the aerial views.
As we drove through the financial district, we could see the modern take on a triumphal arch, leaning high rises.
Inset better shows the buildings, also known as KIO towers, or the Port of Europe.
We stopped at the Hard Rock, near plaza de Colon for a rushed Pepsi, then headed back Gran Via, where we got off and walked back to Plaza de España. We hopped the Metro to Sol,, and wandered the blue lit Christmas Fair at Jacinto de Benavente. After getting a souvenir (€1,00) we we would return to this plaza for shopping (and desserts) nightly!
18:00, We searched near the hotel for dinner, and found a Donner Kabob place on Espoz y Mina, where we had frites, donner (lamb) and chicken gyros, the girls also had their favorite, european Fanta. (€18,00)
19:30 Stopped for cookies at the market near Plaza de Ángel (€1,50) ...
and headed to the hotel. It was quite the Grand Central station all night, including a marching band that walked by!
December 28, 2008 Sunday
The weather, by the way. was to constant, thirties at night and forties during the day, overcast until the last day, and often windy. The hotel room was usually chilly, and with the drunks wandering by, and our body clocks still on Texas time, it was not a great night to sleep, so we rose early.
8:30, breakfast. The breakfast room had wi-fi, so the little laptop came down with us to check weather, museum times, etc. (Gracie also chatted with friends). The typical breakfast went like this: cereal and milk, ham and cheese with bread or croissant, orange and pineapple juice, the odd hot chocolate, coffee or tea, and aqua de grifo (tap water).
9:15, walked to Sol, and used our passes to ride to the Opera station. Due to a bit of construction, we made a wrong turn and walked back to Sol instead of our intended destination... but that was the only time we got out of whack. Decided to walk to the Palacio, passing through Plaza Major and passing the old city hall again on the way. We came out by the Catedral, and entered the Palacio. (€23,00)
View of Catedral from Palacio Real.
Views of Palacio Real courtyard.
We toured the Salons of the Palacio Real (inspired by the king's boyhood spent at Versailles, when the old place burned down, he built this nifty little place. We saw some Stradivarius instruments, and also toured the Armory, and the Farmacia... the Armory was especially neat. Bought souvenirs, (€14,30)
11:00, walked along east side of the Palacio, heading for the Opera station.
While I always use Photoshop to adjust the brightness and contrast of my pictures (most places don't allow flash, I tried out a new toy to combine images for panoramas... Microsoft's new ICE (Image Composite Editor). The images to follow with black edges are the stitched images joined by ICE... very slick tool. Note in the image below, when combining the image above with another, it removed Susann to maintain the walkway!
From Opera, we rode to Sol, and changed lines to ride to Atocha, near the train station and the Sofia Reina museo.
There were 'modern' Christmas trees at all the big plazas, here is the one near Atocha, and the night view.
On Sundays the Sofia Reina museo is free, so there was a bit of a line, but not much.
12:00 The Sofia Reina museo is mainly modern art, with a decent share of Picasso and Dalí. The most famous piece is Picasso's massive gray scale Guernica below, which contemplated the bombing of Guernica by the Germans during the Spanish civil war in 1937, with Gen. Franco's permission. There was also a good deal of modern sculpture, such as the bookcase in wood.
Art is about two things, one is conveying an idea (the Dutch masters, for instance), and the other is conveying emotion, which is the forte of modern art. However, I better appreciate art where the emotion is backed up by obvious talent... so I like Dalí (bottom right) more than Picasso, and Goya (over at the Prado) more than both of them, as Goya could paint in three genres. Got some souvenirs plans.
There were also a lot of slide shows on the 4th floor, photography displays, and audio video on the third floor. Some ridiculous, some sublime. I suppose I like the second floor the best, with the Picasso and Dalí works.
14:00 Stopped at the BBQ grill near the Sofia. We split bocadillas Ingle and tortillas, (English ham or bacon sandwiches, and egg and potato casserole/quiche. which is flat... the only resemblance to a mexican tortilla is general shape) (€17,50)
There was a hillside covered with shops near the Ministry of Agriculture that we browsed about after lunch.
About 15:00, headed back to Sol...
...then south to the Hotel for a brief siesta, of sorts.
16:30, Walk to the Prado. Sunday nights are free at the Prado, and the line down the street made it look like everyone in Madrid knew that.
After getting past security and the cloak room, we knew our time was limited... so we focused on the Spanish artists, having already seen Rembrandt's that were there with a temporary show, having exposure to the Dutch Masters from Amsterdam, and having seen Greek and Roman statuary (the Elgar Marbles) in London and Rome. There were a lot of Velázquez and Goya; Goya seemed to have three schools... the first similar to the Dutch Masters with elegant, detailed painting, then less detailed (more impressionistic) work, then what could be called the dark pre-modern art. Below is a Velázquez we all liked.
19:30, We visited the museum shop, and got a small book (€4,00); we then admired the now lit Christmas decorations in the area, and headed back up the hill toward city center.
20:00, we arrived at Picolino, and had Pizza for dinner. The girls had Fanta and cafe, I had agua grifo. (€20,25)
21:00, walked to the market near the hotel for cookies, and snacks for the bus tour the next day. (€4,80)
December 29, 2008 Monday
7:30, standard breakfast.
8:30, Metro to Plaza España.
9:20, board the Trapsatur bus lead by Andres, and headed north northwest past Salamanca... to the Central Range mountains, and snow.
After crossing through a tunnel, we headed back to lower altitudes with less snow, and into Ávila.
10:30, we stopped at a shop for a break, just outside the city walls. (€1,00)
After the break, we headed to the Basílica St. Vicente, named after a child and his siblings martyred by the Romans.
We then walked the streets of Ávila, passing a great old post office building.
Across the street, we took a brief visit to the Catedral of Ávila.
We then walked through the Main Plaza with its bell tower, toward the Church of St. Teresa.
Ávila is one of the highest cities in Spain, and one of the coldest. While the snow was on the nearby mountains, Andres told us it was many degrees below Celsius a few weeks before.
Church of St. Teresa, built on the site of her birth.
There was a lot of "breath of God" or gold leaf over the intricate wood carvings in the main church, and side chapel.
After we looked at relics, there was a magnificent view of the area on the way back down to the bus.
11:30, back to the bus, and the drive to Segovia. This is the view of the Catedral from the parking lot, below the ancient city.
From here we walked up the hill, to Cordero's for lunch. Just beyond Cordero's, you can see the Roman Aqueduct.
The meal was included in the tour... we could have opted out but we have learned that it is a great way to sample to local cuisine, and get it finished in time to rejoin the tour. We started with white bean soup... the beans were huge, the size of an oreo. This was followed by Segovian veal served very much like pot roast, followed by veggies. We added some drinks for the girls (€6,50), and then we had ice cream for dessert.
13:45, we headed to the Aqueduct. This was in use until the middle of the 20th century, and it just staggering in its age, and size.
The guide said it would be easy to get to the meeting point, the Catedral... he stretched the truth a bit. Below is a model of the city they had, and an added Google map, plus our eventual route... not too bad.
A few of the sites on the way to the Catedral.
Our first view of the Plaza Major, the Catedral, and the floor plan.
15:00, The Catedral is just outside the plaza where Queen Isabella was crowned... the original burned in the early 1500s, and while the new structure went up in a bout 60 years, the interior was not done for another 200 years. While the Catedral in Avila reminded us of Canterbury with its high ceiling, this was more like Westminster, with the middle quior (choir stalls). Unusual about this catedral was the cupola above the altar.
The back of the alter, chapels, and the quior.
The water downspouts looked like Dragons...
15:30, we headed to the Alcázar. While the moorish influence is heavy, it was a Christian stronghold build in the 12th century, and was later home to Isabella. In the early 1800s it became a barracks, and in 1865 a fire gutted much of the palace. But the reconstructions are true, and the citadel is still very impressive.
View of the Alcázar. park entry, and overlooking a monastery.
The bridge and moat to the Alcázar.
The Alcázar. armory.
Throne room, and view of ceilings and rose windows.
Bedroom, tapestry, and hall of Kings.
Detail in Hall of Kings.
View from the inside the Alcázar, toward the Monastery, and the 13th century Templar church.
16:15, After a little shopping (€1,50), there were many great views as we walked the old road inside the walls, back to the bus.
Looking back toward Segovia
Looking back at the Alcázar. from near the Segovia museum/gate, and looking up at the Catedral, from the road inside the city wall.
The Gate in the city wall of Segovia.
14:30, Diane and Susann went looking for drinks, but found none, the bus rolled out about 15 minutes later and soon we encountered thick fog and snowy areas, on the way to Madrid...
...but we made it safe back to Plaza de España, and took the Metro to Sol.
From Sol, it was back to the Hotel for a bit.
19:30, the Girls insisted we try Spanish McDonalds, which we found at the east end of Puerta del Sol. (€18,10! For two burgers and two happy meals! €18,10 is like $30.00!) Plus we had to fight lines, and crowds getting the trays upstairs to the dining area. Never again will a foreign McDonald's see this Collins member.
We then walked around Puerta del Sol, admiring the light show and shops.
The moving light display was great.
20:40, we headed back to the Christmas fair and got Choco Gofres (waffles with Chocolate). (€10,00)
21:15 it was back to the hotel. Most nights we watched a little English CNN for news, and some various shows in Spanish, German, etc. We liked the blooper-reel sport shows the best.
December 30, 2008 Tuesday
9:00, slept in a bit, and had breakfast.
9:55, walked to the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. This former private collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza is now owned by the State and is a great compliment to the Prado and Reina Sofia. (€20,00)
The museum has many old works, Dutch Masters, Impressionists, and Modern art, including Jan Van Eyck, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, Degas Van Gogh, Lautrec, as well as twentieth century masterpieces like a Cubist work by Picasso and splatter art from Pollack. While we cherry picked the Prado, and Reina Sofia, we lingered here and saw all the paintings.
Then we headed to the museum shop for a book on the place... couldn't swing the €49,00 tomes, but found a neat spanish language book with many of our favorite images. (€3,00)
13:45, walked to the Banco de España, then over to the Correo to mail Gracie's post cards. Stopped to admire the Cibeles fountain, the new City Hall, and the architecture, including the Art Deco Metropolis building.
We decided to stick with a known quantity for lunch and headed to Picolino.
14:45, Pizza and Fanta (€20,50).
After lunch it was time to sight see and souvenir shop (€43,45), spending a lot of time around Puerta del Sol.
One of the big things at this time of year is folks wearing colored wigs, and odd buskers in character suits.
Then we headed to Plaza Major.
Plaza Major was even neater when the lights came on.
18:00, we headed back to Puerta del Sol for dinner at Pan's.
We had tortilla and bocadillos, looking out over the square. Too much like McDonalds... (€22,25)
Diane was looking for one last souvenir, so we headed back to Plaza de España and the covered Christmas fair. When not surrounded by Christmas, normally you can see the Don Quixote statue, we had to dig a bit to find it...
...before resting at the same fountain we stopped at our first day in Madrid.
We then took our last Metro ride back to Sol, passing a bagpipe busker on the way.
For dessert, we stopped at our favorite plaza one more time, and had our big treat for the trip, hot chocolate and churros at Maestro Chocolate (€18,80)
December 31, 2008 Wednesday
After breakfast, we were picked up by AeroCity at 8:20. (€24,00+1,00)
We checked in, and spent our last €17,00 on souvenirs and snacks, and boarded our flight to Philly on time. We were served an interesting sandwich for lunch, and the girls watched "Hancock." We got into Philly early, and grabbed some 'real' food for dinner. We were half an hour late leaving for Houston, but got in pretty to close to the plan; we got the car and headed back to the same room we had at the Rodeway in Humble. We celebrated the New Year and crashed... we drove back home January 1, 2009... stopping at Katz's Deli in the Woodlands for brunch... and ending a great vacation!
At St. Michael's
At St. Michael's
Gale and Mike Hasler
Gale, Kelly Malott, Mike, and Merri Cronk
Diane at Homecoming
Reservation Details and Maps
Wells Fargo Currency Exchange
Preflight IAH Parking
6633 Will Clayton Parkway
Humble TX 77338
Covered Parking $5.59/day
21A 21C 29A 29B
22A 22C 30A 30B
Check in Terminal 1 In front of Arrivals lounge number 2
or Check in Terminal 2 between Arrivals lounge 5 and 6
or call 900.71.35.83 from public phone
Madrid Metro passes
Collect Madrid Card at either the Madrid Airport (Barajas) Terminal 2
(Centro de Atencion al Viajero de Metro de Madrid , next to Bajaras Underground Stop 7:00-22:00)
or the Madrid Tourist Board
(Plaza Mayor 27 9:30-20:30)
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