Day 399: Site of El EscorialMarch 20, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C
Back in the car this morning, heading south-east for around 3 hours. Slightly better weather, but it was still freezing cold! And as we drove further towards Madrid, it started to lightly snow and howl an absolute gale.
Our stop for today was at a place known as El Escorial on the outskirts of Madrid - a monastery/basilica/palace that was very important to the Spanish royal family. After a McDonalds lunch we arrived around 1pm, parked up and headed in. We had to go inside immediately because it was snowing and the wind was tearing through the site. It's the first day of spring today - and hard to believe we skipped this site 12 months ago because we were worried about it being too hot to leave Schnitzel in the car. Today we were worried it was too cold!!
Managed to film a bit of the exterior, but then bought our tickets and headed in to discover no photos anywhere inside either. Arrgh. I don't even know why, it's not like there's religious services there or stuff to get damaged by camera flashes. Very annoying.
We wandered around anyway, having a look at everything. It's an interesting site regardless, with a large central basilica and a palace on either side - one dating from the Habsburg dynasty, and the other from the Bourbon dynasty. Amused to note that the King's bedroom on both sides had a handy window connected to the high altar of the basilica, so that the king could attend Mass without leaving bed. My kind of style!
Very impressive library room too, with lots of old books and atlases. I also liked the Hall of Battles which was about 50 metres long and decorated on both sides with paintings of important battles in Spanish history. They were direct copies of old tapestries that have since been lost, and apparently much of what we know about medieval warfare comes from these images since they're quite detailed.
There was also a large underground area known as the Pantheon, where almost every single Spanish monarch (both Habsburg and Bourbon) are buried! There's even space allocated for the current King, Felipe II, and his father Juan Carlos who abdicated a few years ago.
Back to the car after a couple of hours where Schnitzel looked quite snug and warm under his blankets, so no need to stress. The weather situation hadn't improved any, so we just drove straight to the hotel about 20 minutes away on the outskirts of Madrid. It was a bit of a highway stop and I didn't have high hopes, but it actually proved to be quite comfortable. Just a typical semi-modern budget hotel.
Only real issue was that we arrived around 4pm, and the restaurant didn't open until 8:30pm!! We'd had lunch early at about 12:30 since that was when we came across McDonalds, so the wait was a bit tortuous, but we made it. Room service pizza was the order of the day.Read more