Good morning everyone! It’s Friday and MA and I are in Madrid with Viking River cruises. Nothing like a great night’s sleep to kill jet lag. However, I woke up at 3 a.m. wide awake and finally dozed back off. I made coffee in the room, finished yesterday’s blog and got dressed for our tour of Madrid today at 9 a.m. MA and I got downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. We were the last ones to arrive but we had plenty of time. The breakfast buffet was something to behold. We settled for my Weight Watchers standard: scrambled eggs, fruit and coffee. That’s “0” points. I’ve dropped 15 lbs so far om weight watchers and I don’t want to blow it on this trip. Believe me I could have had a feast at this breakfast spread. We gathered our coats, camera and water and our group boarded a small bus for a driving and walking tour of Madrid ending in a visit to the famous Prado Museum.
It’s a beautiful day in Madrid, blue sky and cool temps. Our guide began with the history of Spain and Madrid and never stopped. I wanted to tell her that Spain could have had it all if they had kept Texas in the early 1800’s, but hindsight is as common and bland as boiled potatoes. If the king had only known!
Our bus stopped at the Royal Palace for a photo op, so here it is. One of these street performers was putting the final touches on his gold costume and got really upset when I took his picture. He shouldn’t be in public if he doesn’t want his photo taken. Too bad. Another street musician got a Euro coin for his play and a smile.
We walked around “old Madrid” and stopped at a cafe in the Todo Pasa de la Plaza for coffee and churros. The Plaza had markets galore and I could have spent an hour in there but I had to photograph quickly to keep up with our group.
We got back on the bus and stopped at the Prado Museum. I left my camera on the bus because I really didn’t want to photograph “art”. I had my iPhone anyway.
The Prado Museum is serious about security. They prohibit just about everything except your body. Take a look at what you cannot bring into the museum. They even run you through an x-ray and body scan before entering. Our guide handed everyone a ticket and we began our tour of the Prado.
As soon as I saw the group of kids and their teacher, I was wishing for my camera. No problem, I saw a bunch of Chinese taking iPhone photos…I just whipped out mine and photographed the school group learning about art. I was suddenly accosted by the camera police and told I could not take photos. I tried to explain I was not photographing art just the kids. She insisted and made me delete my photo. Ok! Don’t mess with WW and as soon as she went to the other side of the room and began harassing someone else I took the same photo and stuck my camera in my pocket. It reminded me of the time we were in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and one of the Russian females told me I couldn’t take a picture of their precious “Amber Room”. Little did she realize who she was dealing with. I have the photo in my St. Petersburg collection.
The second half of today’s tour began at 6pm. We gathered in the hotel lobby, boarded our little bus and headed for the first of three tapas cafe/bars. Our first stop was the El Toro Tapas. We all sampled their tapas and red or white wine. I had the sangria. It is a fruit punch made with wine. I remember Muzenski and I had a pitcher of it 50 years ago when we were in Madrid. From the there we walked in the rain to the second bar, the Colmado de las Viandas and to Hacienda Zorita, home of the Pata Negra and the world’s best Jamon Iberico, Spanish ham. We sampled their wine and cheese and olive oil and bread. It was all good.