Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 -- Madrid, Spain

I took the train from Sahagún to Madrid this morning and arrived in the city shortly before noon. I took the Metro (subway) to within a few blocks of the San Fermín youth hostel where I had booked a bunk in an 8-person mixed-gender dorm. However, up until now, I have the room to myself. I am astounded that there aren't more people staying here at the height of the European vacation season, but the hostel is almost empty.

I took the subway to the Puerta del Sol, Madrid's most famous public plaza, this afternoon. It is quite a different place than it was when I last visited it in the 1960s. At that time, the dictator Francisco Franco was in power, and Spain was a backward, poor, and relatively isolated country. The Puerta del Sol was then a neighborhood plaza full of gossiping local residents in the evening. Now it is the hub of a trendy tourist neighborhood, and it seems to be a place where the more attractive young hookers hang out. Yes, I was propositioned, but I kept walking and haven't the slightest idea what the price would have been.

One thing I discovered today is that my left leg causes me to walk with a painful limp, even when I am not carrying a backpack. Tomorrow I plan to visit the Prado art museum, and it will be interesting to see how the leg holds up.

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