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With only one full day in Madrid we needed to hit the ground running, which is exactly what we did….running around Retiro real, a beautiful park once owned as leisure grounds for the royal family.

About 75 hectares of sculptured grounds, with a magnificent Crystal palace surrounded by lakes, and a huge rectangle man made lake, popular for rowing.

Absolutely fabulous, and such a change from Barcelona, with grass and trees aplenty.

They certainly knew who to live it up, the Spanish Royals, wallowing in an ostentatious display of wealth, but more of which we would see later!

Home, refreshed and off to the Mercato San Miguel, probably the most famous market in Madrid, for breakfast.

Unlike Barcelona La Boqueria, this market is quite compact, only about 20 stalls selling the usual market stuff, with a strong emphasis on grog!

Looks promising……oh wait, it’s only 9am.

Damn, coffee and croissants it is! Plus some fresh peaches to keep the PT crew happy! Ok, ok, maybe a churros as well.

Pretty much next door is the Plaza Major, the centre piece of the ‘Centro’ district, a beautiful plaza enveloped by a rectangle of five level terraced apartments.

 As Plaza’s go it’s pretty stunning, and we would have really enjoyed it even more if not for the monster thunderstorm which stopped everyone , including the street performers in their tracks!

It belted down for about 30 minutes, and when it finally stopped we headed back home to make use of the complimentary umbrellas, before setting forth again.

Strolling the streets is a great way to get a feel for the city, and stroll we did…..and did….and did!! Finally stopping outside the Palacio Real, humble home to the Royals.
Feeling sorry for these downtrodden folk, we coughed up €20 to check out their digs.

As much as I wanted to enjoy looking at their ostentatious display of wealth and power, I just came away feeling a little sickened by the excess.

They had rooms for getting dressed in, for chatting, and rooms for morning tea for Gods sake! Every room was used for some menial task, mainly to display the wealth and privilege the common people could never even dream of.

The building isn’t even all that impressive, huge yes, but a bit shabby up close, and so over the top inside. And we only get to see a small proportion, as it is still the official residence of the Royal couple today.

No bloody wonder civilian revolt is a right of passage.

Rant over, pushing on!

We had a look at Egypt’s gift to Madrid, a 2nd century temple, dismantled and rebuilt here as thanks for their help saving the temples of Anu Simpel!

A little odd, but nice enough looking, except for the special art installation ‘ witches hats’v strategically placed to ruin all photo’s!

We made our way back through the city centre to the Retiro Park again, to have our lunch of baguettes and patisseries, at 3pm! Time gets away from you when your walking all over town.

We had our first brush with Spain’s intrepid pickpockets this arvo, sneaky little shits they are, working in teams to catch the unawares….um, unaware!

While crossing a busy intersection Rachael wondered why these three girls needed to be so close to her while looking at their map, not realising they were using said map to cover the fact they were trying to open her bag and pinch her wallet.

Dumb arse kids picked the wrong target, one filth look behind and they were gone…never get into Rachael’s personal space!

Mind you, it wasn’t till after we realised what they had tried to do.

Lesson learnt, keep your wits about you and your guard up.
Stuffed, and ever so slightly frazzled, we headed home to siesta, before travelling back up the hill to San Miguel for dinner, simply because I hadn’t partaken in the afore mentioned focus on grog this market seems to thrive on!

Quite the bustling place it is when the lights come on, heaving masses all elbowing their way to the bar, sprinting to grab that elusive bench space, and if the gods permit, and treasured stool to go with it!

We stood!! Losers!

Sangria with olives and gherkins with tuna, pickled onions and olives for starters. Mojito or Rioja with empanadas for main, fresh air for desert!

Another monster day, a million miles walked, thousands of calories consumed, hundreds of sights seen, and forty winks required!!

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