Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rambles through Madrid

By chance i got to Spain this week and my journey starts in Madrid. I have not yet been to this city as it is not exactly on the axis of east-west travels of mine - and here i go!

As usual, so much to see and so little time...My program got messed up early in the morning - Palacio Real (photo below) was closed for official ceremonies - as well as the Reina Sofia Museum, my two first objectives. Next i had the bad idea to go to Atocha, the railway station with a tropical garden in its midst. The man at the ticket desk made all possible and impossible efforts to not understand my rudimentary Spanish and finally, after 30 min of talks, gestures, and drawings, sold me two tickets for cash - one to Toledo for tomorrow, and one to Granada for the day after. I had to go see another lady to get my ticket from Granada to Barcelona and to pay by credit card as my cash ran out as quickly as my patience. Anyway, Spanish customer service has some way to go to be at least at the French level, not even mentioning the American one.

This is the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de Almudena in the morning light, that reminded me of our St George's Cathedal in Lviv.

Here is another shot of a lovely garden i stumbled upon near the San Andres church and the San Pedro´s mudejar tower.

And the last shot of the Placa Mayor, still with its Christmas decorations on. Talking about Christmas or Navidad, during my rambles i came upon this strange ceremony attracting crowds in the Buen Retiro park - thousands of balloons going into the Madrid sky. I first took them for birds - and then felt like a Persian or a Chinese traveler in the Middle Ages, contemplating this ceremony i had trouble understand. Finally i found a booklet in Spanish i managed to somehow figure out - the principle of this Arbol de los Deseos was the following - beginning of December Madridians came over to the big glass Xmas tree and filled it with balloons. Each balloon had a wish marked on it. And today, January 6th, certainly to celebrate Christmas with me, all the wishes went to the sky!

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