成程 (Naru Hodo) - IC in Japan^H^H Cote d'Azur^H^H USA

Sunday, February 18, 2007


As Spain is close to here, at least a lot closer than Germany, I decided to visit Jose in Madrid. Traveling is cheap nowadays, especially if you book a bit in advance and order via internet. So I took a TGV, the French version of Shinkansen, which was not at all fast on the coast track, to Marseile. This is the closest airport where the cheap airlines depart and while we have an airport in Nice, flights from there are a bit pricey.

My flight was with Ryanair, and I was seriously impressed by the efficeny and quality, especially considering the price. They even arrived 10 minutes early :D.
I got picked up by Jose and we drove to our first stop, his flat to dump luggage and have dinner, a pizza we grabbed on the way there. After I was introduced to Carlos, his 'really relaxed' flatmate :D, we went to a small club to have a few drinks. Instead of the party we expected, we found a small concert with two Spanish guitars, a Bass and a singer. Joder, those guys were amazing guitar players and liked their job. For one song they appeared to fight for the singing girl, throwing musical attacks back and forth :D. I liked it a lot.

Next day I went exploring Madrid. After the rather quiet Sophia-Antipolis (so quiet that I started playing golf) Madrid was a real living city (third or forth biggest in Europe after London and Berlin) and sparkling with life :D. Well Saturday moring at 10 o'clock it is just starting to sparkle but it is for sure more live than in Sophia Antipolis... As tourist, the first place to visit is Porta del Sol with the emblem of the city, the Bear with the tree.

Wandering through the streets I found the first ham (Jamon) shop of the day: "Palacio del Jamon" the palace of ham.

As it was the first time a saw all those Hams hanging around in all their beauty, I was quite impressed. The pricetag was impressive as well... :D.

While I could not afford a complete ham, I bought a piece of bread with a few slices :D. Second breakfast ... :D

Not wanting to eat my first Jamon Iberico on the run, I sat down on a bench in front of the nearby Royal Theater building. Note that the tourist signs are in Spanish, Englisch and Japanese :D.

The crumbs of the pretty fresh bread attracted a lot of small, fearless birds. Without taking particular interest in me, they jumped between my feet and had their second breakfast right there.

The next stop after breakfast was the Royal Palace, Palacio Real. This is also where I realized, that the 'Real' in Real Madrid, the famous football club, stood for Royal and had no connection to 'real' as the english word :-P.

Walking along the outside of the palace to find the entrance, I noticed that Spanish policemen du their duty on police scooters :D.

Soon enough I found the entrance and entered the palace.

The first room on the visitors tour was the kings room. It was a bit dark, to prevent the colors of the carpets and paintings from bleaching, so the dark statues are difficult to recognize on the picture.

Every room had its own characteristic style. Different colors, patterns...

But almost every room had a really impressive painting on the ceiling, depticting some group of gods or angels watching us mere mortals walking around below them.

There was even a 'Asian' room. However it used very bright colors and apart from a few painted cranes I could not find any connections to Asian art and style and frankly don't think it earns it's name. But for sure it had a different design than the other rooms...

The next stop was Plaza Mayor, built in the style of the "Habsburger" so it looks a bit different from the usually white palace buildings, maybe bit like Vienna.

According to the 'Top 10' of things to do in Madrid as a tourist, you have to go to Plaza Mayor and drink a Spanish 'Mahou' beer there. Knowing the duties of a tourist I went to a Tapas bar and ordered such a drink. I managed to do this without knowing a word Spanish (well the Spanish words I know would not be helpful ordering a beer) or resorting to English :D.

After runing around Madrid for some hours, even with my second breakfast, I started to get hungry a bit. Time to go to 'Puerta de alcala' and meet with Jose and Rafael for lunch. Spanish people have a shifted schedule, so time for lunch is 15 o'clock. As the weather was embarassingly nice, we got some sandwiches, similar to the one I had for second breakfast :D, and walked through 'Parque de El Retiro' to eat them near a rectangular lake.

Madrid has several museums and according to Rafael the 'Centro de arte reina sofia', is the best one, including the building.

According to Jose, Rafael is an artist and knows what he is talking about, so I spend the afternoon walking throught the modern art of the Reina Sofia center. I know nothing about art, but the building is quite wired. In a interesting way. Aparently they put a new roof on top of a existing building. Same goes for the art that was on display there. Quite wired, but for some reason I liked it. There was a white image, just with some curvey black lines and a few bright red dots, but for some reason it made me smile :D. Same goes for a lot of the other images and sculptures there. By accident I found out that I like the paintings of a guy called Salvador Dali. Apparently he is quite famous ...

After a long day walking through Madrid, I met with Jose and we returned to his flat. Which was invaded by friends of his flatemate, Yousef and Felipe for a game of risk. I managed to conquer Australia and hold Africa for a round, but in the end the combined power of North and South America, under the comand of Joses flatmate ruled the world...

Dinner consisted of pizza again and Yousef demonstrated how to effordless cut it without a knife.
Beeing strengthened by our meal, we searched the internet for the best place to party and finally decided to go to the Pacha as it promised the prettiest girls and decent music. Both turned out to be true, once the pary started around 3:30 in the morning. Did I mention the shifted schedule of the Madrilenos? :-D anyway it was great :-D. My personal hero was a incredible cool, seriously overweight guy in a suit, maybe in his late 40ies dancing on the table usually occupied by pretty girls and drunken wanabees. My honest respect to this guy! :D

Most of the next day was spend recovering from the previous night. As we came to life at the evening, we decided to do the craziest thing imaginable. Go ice scating in the middle of Spain :D.

Jose managed to even top this, by going ice scating in a suit :D.

The next day was my last day in Madrid, so I just walked the streets to store some of that life and energy for the quiet time in France ahead of me. As it was Monday morning the life in the street was quite energetic and on almost every crossing were people in yellow wests, keeping the traffic flowing. They appeared to be quite effective.

I used the time to stop by the 'Museo del Jamon' the ham museum. The number of hams on display was insane and I bough a few slices to eat with my coworkers back in France.

Final stop before entering the Metro to the airport was 'km 0' on Porta del Sol, the starting point of the Spanish road system. It is quite worn and difficult to find unless you get detailed instructions how to find it like the ones Jose provided :D.