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3 travelers at this place

  • Day50

    Marvellous Madrid

    September 17, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We left Barcelona at the right time, before protesters started demanding a referendum to decide if Catalonia will become an independent republic and separate from Spain. Oblivious to the bubbling political turmoil, we boarded our bus for Madrid, an eight hour trip via Zaragoza, only to realise that we hadn’t been assigned seats next to each other (and neither did many others travelling together). Then commenced the musical-chairs negotiations, trading one seat for another until we reached our desired seats. And with no common language, there was a lot of pointing and head nods. At one point, the game even involved a nun dressed in her habit.

    Madrid, meaning the place of abundant water, really lives up to its name, with what seems like a city of fountains. It should also be called the City of Tapas. Tapas, tapas and more tapas everywhere in Spain. No wonder there isn’t an obesity problem in Spain when all meals are bit-sized appetisers. Tapas for lunch, tapas with beer, tapas for dinner, tapas everywhere you go. Combine your tapas to make a “normal-size” meal.

    Prior to setting out on our gaycation, we started to learn some Spanish and felt reasonably confident that we would, at least, be able to order food. In the most part, we got by, murdering the Spanish language along the way. When we tried to speak a little Spanish, the waiters and waitresses often responded in English and so the conversation would go back and forth, mixed English and Spanish.

    Our Air B&B host spoke a small amount of English, at least better than our Spanish, and similar to the wait staff, our conversations included a lot of pidgin English, broken Spanish and the odd Google Translate look-up. It felt like Wheel of fortune at some points: can we buy a vowel? Or Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Eddy, can we phone a friend (Steph, Paola or Cinthya where are you?). We had been learning Latin American Spanish prior to landing in Europe and couldn’t quite get used to the European Spanish pronunciations. It felt like we were mocking someone with a speech impediment or we had burnt our tongue on a hot drink and couldn’t pronounce our words properly. Gra-th-as instead of gra-see-as.

    We also thought we might get some yoga practice in while in Madrid because our Air B&B host is a Yoga teacher but alas the closest we got was barging in on Juan Carlos doing a shoulder stand and a downward-facing dog. Unfortunately, we were unable to impress him with our suave yoga poses and transitions that Tracy Gray has painstakingly taught us over the last 6 years. Instead the evil fairy was in our ear calling for us to consume drinks and, of course, the obligatory tapas.

    Madrid wasn’t all drinks and tapas. In between all the frivolity there was some sightseeing. The city centre was in walking distance so we clocked up some miles going back and forth. It was also a way to counter all the calories consumed. Did we mention there’s tapas in Spain? The first few days were spent wandering the streets from one attraction to another: the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Puerta de Toledo, San Francisco el Grande, Plaza Major, Plaza de Sol, Parque de Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado and Museo Reine Sofía to name a few.

    At the Museo Nacional del Prado, we noticed a theme in some of the medieval artworks that we hadn’t noticed elsewhere, or maybe we just blocked it from our memories. There appeared to be a fascination with breast milk, particularly the Virgin Mary’s breast milk, spraying across the artwork. To us it just seemed like an odd motif (or is it just a gay boy thing?). The Museo Reine Sofía, on the other hand, housed artwork by more contemporary artists who took the fascination of the human body to another level. Google Lee Lozano and you will know what we mean (NSFW). If you're faint-hearted, it might be best to move on. Nothing to see here.

    In the suburbs, the same fascination didn’t exist but there did seem to be a trend for granny chic shopping trolleys or as we knew them growing up: the granny master 2000. They were seen everywhere, being used by the young and the old. The little old grannies we made fun of in the Nineties would fit right into the Latina district without any sense of shame.

    Another crazy fashion statement or perhaps the next fitness trend was exhibited by a woman wearing a sandal with a sock on one foot and a rollerblade on the other. She was alternating between hopping and skating, neither of which seemed an efficient or effective mode of transport. Maybe she lost a shoe and gained a Rollerblade (or vice versa) or maybe she’s lost her marbles.

    Like all good things, our Madrid experience had to come to an end but not without experiencing some of the nightlife in the gay area of Chueca, with its rainbow flags strewn around the neighbourhood. Even the train station is painted rainbow.
    Meanwhile Australia is still deciding whether same-sex relationships are worthy enough to acknowledge within the law.

    Next stop: Lisbon.
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  • Day59

    Day 59: Enjoying Madrid

    April 15, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    No work for today after our productive day yesterday, and it's Easter Saturday so most things are open again. We had some exploring to do since we hadn't really seen all that much of Madrid on our first time through, two months ago today funnily enough! First stop was the most important art museum in Spain - the Prado, full of Renaissance and earlier art.

    Opening at 10, we hoped to get there soon afterwards but as usual could only manage about 10:40. Very long ticket queue already that looked like it was going to be an hour+ wait, but we were inside within about 35 minutes so not too bad. The gallery itself is enormous, with wings and halls and room after room of famous artists. Not quite on the scale of the Louvre, but definitely a lot larger than the Guggenheim we'd recently visited.

    The paintings were mostly ordered by nationality, so you'd have Spanish artists in one wing, Flemish in another, then Italian, French and so on. We sort of wandered around not quite knowing where to head first. Lots of well-known artists on display, including: Goya, Velazquez, Rubens, Rafael, Rembrandt, Bosch, Titian and El Greco. We basically exhausted ourselves looking around fairly non-stop for about 5 hours, with only a short break in the restaurant for lunch.

    Headed back around 4pm where we relaxed in our apartment. I headed back out shortly afterwards, as I had a ticket for a football game - Atletico Madrid vs Osasuna at the nearby Vicente Calderon stadium. I'd noticed on the map it was only 15 minutes walk from our apartment, realised that there was a game on while we were there, bought a ticket online for about 50 euros and headed over!

    Great experience, with the crowd well into it singing and chanting fairly constantly. Atletico are one of the strongest teams in Spain, so it was no surprise they ran out as 3-0 winners. It should've been more as well, since they had two penalties in the last five minutes, both of which were saved!! I discovered later that this was one of the last home games they will play at this stadium, as they're moving for next season and it's into the last few games of the season. It's not hard to see why either - the actual stadium was mostly a dump of cinderblocks, concrete and rusty iron.

    Arrived back home around 9pm where Shandos was still awake, surprisingly, so I grabbed half a chicken from the great-smelling chicken place a few doors away. Very tasty. Stayed up a bit too late as usual, though we're moving on in the morning. Still haven't quite done Madrid total justice, but we've made a much better fist of it this time around.
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  • Day58

    Day 58: Working in Madrid

    April 14, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Very quiet day today. Back in Madrid but everything is closed due to Good Friday. We bunkered down in our apartment and got to working - I caught up on some writing and churned through about 5 videos. Means I've got a nice buffer pre-loaded into YouTube and can afford a few days off editing and uploading.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Carabanchel, كارابانتشيل, Karabanĉelo, カラバンチェル, Carabanchel distritu

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