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Madrid I

June 7, 2014

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Madrid-Barajas Airport

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stepping out of the airport and into the Spanish sun, we could tell that our cold and gloomy days were over. Madrid is about six degrees north of L.A., and the weather in June is much like July in SoCal – warm, sunny days and cool nights. I should be relaxed, but hovering in the back of my mind, always, is the specter of SPANISH PICKPOCKETS!

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The Airport Express bus took us to the Plaza Cybeles. From there, a friendly Madrileno was kind enough to shepherd us within sight of our hotel, the Lusso Infantas, which turned out to be only five minutes away. It was everything we wanted – clean, comfortable, quiet, and walkable to just about everything we want to see.

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A couple of the wonderful old buildings on Grand Via and Calle Alcala, just south of the hotel.

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A hammer dulcimer concert in the Puerts del Sol, a popular spot in the heart of central Madrid.

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The Plaza Mayor.

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Preciados, a shopping street running north of Puerta del Sol.

Monday, June 2, 2014

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A kitchen shop with lots of fancy cutlery. I love these places.

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A block up Preciados from Puerta del Sol is a branch of El Corte Ingles (“The English Cut”), Spain’s largest chain of upscale department stores. Groceries are in the basement, with about anything you’d care to eat. Like snails, and uh, these things…

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Yes, yes, yes, it’s a wine sampler! Put your little plastic cup under the spigot of your choice, push the button and serve yourself. Spanish wines are cheap and good. We took a rioja back to the room.

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Madrid City Hall. The city is full of these beautiful old buildings.

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Lunch at the Taperia, artistically prepared. Alas, my burger bun was smeared inside with ketchup. Where do people get these ideas? The olives, on the other hand, were unlike anything we get in the states, good enough to eat by themselves.

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Many museums open their doors for free during the last two hours of operation. Here, shortly after six p.m., the line at the Prado, as Velazquez looks on. One of the guards assured us that everyone would be in within twenty minutes. We’ll save the Prado for later, though.

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El Parque del Buen Retiro, generally know as Retiro, is a big block of greenery, fountains, and pathways, complete with rowing pond, just east of the Prado.

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We had noticed an obvious increase in police visibility compared with yesterday. Then we saw a headline announcing that the King, Juan Carlos, had announced his abdication with his son, Felipe, to succeed him. Turns out that although Juan Carlos is popular with most Spaniards, the monarchy itself is not, and many are calling for a referendum on its continuance.

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