Well since the last update some of you may not be aware of the big bit of news for Tanya and I. It was our 10 year anniversary of meeting on the 11th August, so we wanted to mark that occasion by getting married so that we could travel as a married couple. Besides, how could we top this trip as our honeymoon! So we had a secret reception in the local registry office with us two and our witnesses being my cousin Darren, his wife Hayley and their two children Tyler and Amelia (our godchildren). The wedding was another thing on the list for organising before we left, but luckily it all came together in the end and the day was very special for us. We will have another service when we return to Australia to share with our family and friends (if we haven’t had a big bust up on the journey :-) )
Having Darren and Hayley come up to be our witnesses also proved to be a blessing in disguise because I don’t know how we would have got the house all packed up and cleared out had they not been there to help. We are extremely thankful that they could be there. We all drove down to Heathrow on the 12th August and had some final farewell drinks. They saw us off at the airport on the morning of the 13th and then Tanya and I were on our own to finally embark on our trip. It doesn’t seem that long ago since we decided to do it, and now this is it!!!
Final morning with the best witnesses ever :-)
Everything we own for the next year
So after a short hop over France with BA, we landed in Madrid. Madrid was never really part of the plan, but by virtue of us wanting to start in Rio, we had to come through Madrid. As we hadn’t made it to Madrid in our time in the UK, we figured it was a good opportunity to ease into the travelling life and give our ‘limited’ Spanish a test in a more European friendly environment. As we arrived in the early afternoon we decided we would find a tapas restaurant while wandering around our local area after finding the hotel. We had decided that given we had just got married we wouldn’t get straight to backpackers hostels and instead have a few luxuries in Madrid. We did pretty well in the end as our Petit Palaces Hitech Hotel was really nice and the location was great. We were just off of Gran Via which is one of the main streets going through the centre of Madrid.
We found a tapas and wandered around the Puerta del Sol for a while which was all very nice during the evening. The first thing that I think hit both of us was how warm it was. I think the UK climate has made us unaccustomed to the heat now. All I seemed to be doing was looking for somewhere to get a drink.
Puerta Del Sol
Our first night on the road together
We spent the following day walking round the main city sights. We headed in the direction of the Royal Palace keeping to the shade along the way as it was another clear sky day and we need to slowly wean ourselves back into the heat. The Palace was very impressive much like many European palaces we have seen. Afterwards we walked through some more gardens in the direction of Casa de Campo which was a large area of parkland on the other side of the river. The reason for coming here was to take a ride on the cable car. We thought that the cable car went over the city, but in fact it goes from the edge of the city into the centre of Casa de Campo. It was still a nice little ride into the park and made us realise just how big the parkland was considering it was right next to the city centre.
Statue in the Palace gardens
Tanya finding a quick stop out of the sun
Table Tennis anyone?
View to Madrid centre from the cable car
Playing around with the miniaturised effect on the camera
In the afternoon we went and got some tickets for a flamenco show at one of the theatres near our hotel and got some more tapas dinner and sangria before the show started. The flamenco show was good and something that was a traditional Spanish experience. We spent another evening drinking sangria and enjoying being on holiday, this time in Plaza Mayor.
The following day we headed out to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu which is home to Real Madrid, one of the most successful football clubs in the world. I did fancy going to a game while in Madrid, but had checked the Spanish football fixtures on our first night in town and the season didn’t start for another week. Unfortunately when I was at a corner shop the prior evening I saw there was some kind of preseason game between Real Madrid and Barcelona being held that night at the Bernabeu!!! So having missed out on the game we checked out the price for a stadium tour, but at €22 each I wasn’t that desperate to do it. Its not like I am a big Real Madrid fan or anything.
Instead we headed over to Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. This is Spain’s premier bullring and regarded as the home of bullfighting. Given we didn’t do the Bernabeu tour, I wanted to go along to the bullfight that evening. Now I know that bullfighting isn’t exactly a great thing for animal wellbeing, but I still wanted to go along to see for myself what its all about and what it is actually like. Tanya on the other hand knew that she couldn’t go along to watch a fight, so said she would go shopping if I still wanted to go. I got my ticket for the evening fight before we went looking for a place for paella dinner. The only other requirement was that the place had to have the mist sprayers that some of the places have for their outside tables.
Plaza de Toros
Tanya making her decision pretty quickly
So nice to eat under the cooling mist
So we split for the evening so I could go back to the bullring for the bullfights. I had got a pretty cheap ticket at €16 so thought that I might have been in the sun rather than the shade, but actually I was pretty happy with my seat on one of the lower levels and in the shade. After the pomp and ceremony of welcoming the fighters to the arena the first bull was let into the stadium. Watching the first bullfight was definitely a little disturbing to a newcomer. Its clear to see that it’s not really a fair fight. I can see why there is so many objections to this ancient sport, it doesn’t really seem right in this day. Although buying a ticket has just supported the fighting further, maybe i can tell my kids about how bad it was and that will not support it further. Its not something I will ever go to see again anyway.
At the end of the night the bullfighter is treated like a rock star with everyone wanting to get a picture and congratulate him at the exit of the arena. I would like to see how he would go with all the escape areas gone and fighting it from the start without any other help. The bull might stand a chance then.
Anyway enough about bullfighting, here are some less graphic pictures of the night.
View from my seat
The ceremonial entrance
The ‘Hero’ at the end of the night
That brought our time in Madrid to an end and we got the metro out to the airport the following morning for our flight to Rio.
Daniel – I wasn’t really expecting anything in particular from Madrid, but I did like the city. It seemed really clean but still had the feel of an old city that has seen many times come and go. The bullfighting was ‘interesting’ but something that I’m ok about seeing. Im not sure how good our Spanish is going to be in South America, but we got by without any big problems.
Tanya – It was soo hot! No wonder I managed to live in England for so long. We did go in the hottest month of the year, but the sangrias and mojito’s never tasted so good. Madrid was a beautiful and very clean city. It was very easy to get around and I always felt completely safe.