Day 19. Madrid. Thursday 6 October

Madrid is the capital of Spain hosting approximately 7 million in habitants and our next destination. We are travelling there on the AVE fast train in First Class. The train station Eustacia Sants in Barcelona is big, clean and well designed. The train is something else. Very new and modern and very first class. It was a real pleasure to travel on the AVE. It is smooth, fast (over 300km/h) and beautifully designed. It now rates as my number 1 train for first class travel. In just over 3 hours we arrive in Madrid. The taxi driver was interesting using both GPS and map, still couldn’t work out the old part of the city and end up stopping and we had to get out and walk the rest of the way. I just laughed. It was only 2 blocks but I saw the irony in having the latest technology plus a map and still being unable to locate the address. I guess everyone gets a little lost sometimes.

Our hotel is beautiful and brilliantly located right near Peurta del Sol, a major square in Madrid. It is also where the geographical centre of Madrid is; all distances are calculated from this spot. There are a lot of streets that shoot off Peurta del Sol and its right in the old part of the city. Right in the middle of the action. Awesome. Have some lunch and then have a walk about. We visit the supermarket (Corte del Ingles). Best one I have been too yet. I love looking at the similarities and contrasts in food products. I love that there is a whole isle dedicated to Olives and Olive Oil. I love all the weird lollies you can buy and some of the silly names of food. I love the bread called Bimbo.  I think the Haribo sour crocodiles are cute.  I particularly love that there are not 50 varieties of milk. There is just plain, normal milk.  Mark has a cold so he goes back for an early siesta and the kids and I check out the shopping action. We visit fnac, which is a technology store with about 5 levels. I had just found out about the death of Steve Jobs and couldn’t get it out of my mind. When I look at all the technology dreamed and realised by one man and see it everywhere I think of the amazing legacy that one person has left. His imprint on people’s lives is truly amazing. He once famously said “I want to put a ding in the universe”. Well done Mr Jobs. You certainly achieved that.

The shoe shops are amazing; there is not a shoe in existence I don’t think that isn’t here. Not good if you have big feet. Ryan is a European 47 and 45 are the highest they go to. That’s if you can find a 45. The winter clothing is out in the shops and is truly beautiful. I resist the urge for now and am just content to window shop.

We head out to a great little street behind our hotel called Calle Barcelona (how apt?). We have tapas and sangria at a brilliant place called Xaiko. We dined on patatas braves, smoked salmon, prawns tempura, jambon croquettes, chorizo and cheese, plus house salad. Well-prepared food, visually stunning with beautiful flavours.  We are now in the Spanish habit of going out for dinner at about 8.30-9.00 and getting in very late. There were so many people out last night. So much fun and so full of life. My kind of place.

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