Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014 -- Madrid, Spain

My big toe on the right foot is getting better, but my left leg is far from healed. I suspect that I'll be off the Camino for at least another week.

Three young German women moved into my dorm room yesterday, and I have never seen anyone travel with so much stuff. Normally, a person arrives at a youth hostel with only the possessions that can be easily carried in a backpack. These women are traveling by car, and the car is so crammed full of junk that the three of them hardly have a place to sit, not to mention the large quantity of stuff that they carried into the room: clothes, a guitar, jackets, a stack of magazines, several frying pans of various sizes, a collection of pots and pans, a full set of china including mixing bowls, and boxes of stuff of whose contents I am unaware. Why would someone take a full set of cookware and china plus a refrigerator to a youth hostel?

When I first entered the room after their arrival, a blue large plastic box was sitting on a chair, plugged into a wall socket, and humming away. Naturally, I had to ask what it was, and I was told it was to keep their food cold. In other words, they had brought a small refrigerator along!

Here they are rearranging a portion of their baggage in the room.

Before they started rearranging the stuff in the room, I saw them outside repacking what was left in the car including sleeping bags and mats, plastic boxes full of small items, a beach umbrella, folding chairs, and who knows what else. It wouldn't surprise me if the kitchen sink weren't buried in there somewhere.

My morning excursion was to the Plaza de España, which is the area where the government buildings are located. Here's what I first saw as I entered the plaza.

I had trouble taking the picture above, because soon after I got there, the fountain in the foreground shut off, and I wanted to wait for it to start up again. A group of squeegee men was working the intersection behind me, and every few minutes they would run into the plaza, drop their squeegees and bottles of soapy water behind a bench, and stand around looking innocent. I suppose that meant they had spotted the police. I couldn't distinguish what language they used among themselves, but each time they started back toward the intersection, one or more of them would ask me for money in a mixture of English and Spanish: "Change! Change! Por favor!"

The Plaza de España is where the famous bronze statue of don Quixote and Sancho Panza is located. Due to the bright sunshine, I couldn't see the screen of my cell phone when I took the following selfie, so I almost cut poor Sancho out of the picture.

The royal palace is located near the plaza. This is the first view I had of it as I approached.

Below is a view of the palace's front gate. I was surprised at the lax security. There was no fence but just some signs in front of the palace stating in Spanish and English that unauthorized persons were not allowed beyond that point. The only guard was a single police officer sitting in the squad car shown in the picture. While I was standing there, the gates opened and a car drove out from an inner courtyard. Then the lone police officer shut the gates by hand without appearing to lock them and went back to sitting in squad car.

1 comment:

Ed O. said...


I am enjoying reading these posts and seeing the many interesting photos.

Enjoy the upcoming portion of your journey.