Monday, 25 September 2017

Trafalgar Spanish Tour Day 1: Madrid

Our Spanish trip involved a combo of self-directed and tour package. After spending 3 days in Madrid, we started our Trafalgar's Spanish Wonder tour (9 days, 10 cities. Maybe i dunno how to count. I come up with 8 days, 9 cities from the follow itinerary map). The tour ended in Barcelona, which we would spend another 4 extra days by ourselves.

Madrid - the capital city - and Barcelona are the 2 cities that worth digging a little deeper. For the rest, we thought it would be easier to avoid the hassle and join a tour.

Itinerary for the Spanish Wonder tour by Trafalgar. Numbers denote number of nights of hotel stay
Itinerary for the Spanish Wonder tour by Trafalgar. Numbers denote number of nights of hotel stay
(Click image to enlarge)

Today, we were being driven to the hotel for our 1st night stay in Madrid. We stopped a few places on the way.

We made the 1st quick stop at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. This is the home of Real Madrid. If you're a citizen of CANZUS, Real Madrid or this stadium doesn't mean much.

Don't confuse CANZUS with Kansas. It's all in shouting upper case. CANZUS is an acronym for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. The shorthand is strictly my own coinage for this purpose, there's no official recognition. The only interest and knowledge about this place to the CANZUS people (of whom i'm one. Guess which one. Hint: look at my spelling) is that the only discussion we have about this place is the clarification between the word 'football' and 'soccer'. Yes, you know i'm talking about you...

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
Real Madrid insignia

Outside CANZUS, soccer is the most popular sport in 200+ countries, and Real Madrid is 1 of the most prominent team. So this is a hallowed ground, the cathedral, mecca of soccer. Million fan around the world make their pilgrimage here. To our tour group, where majority of the members are denizens of CANZUS, our gaping mouths are probably yawn, not awe. It might as well for we were given about 3 mins to absorb the magnificent indifference. Just enough time for me to snap a few, and wasn't even enough time to look for the gentleman (what gentlemen? Any gentleman. I'm not picky).

Now that i think about it, CANZUS is simply the English-speaking Anti-Soccer League of Nations. Instead of reaching for conspiracy theory - a pastime we enjoy all too much nowadays - i want to appeal to my rational side and explain that these countries are simply belonged neatly to the continents of N. America and Australasia. This geographical (c)lumping explains why UK, albeit an English-speaking country like CANZUS (in fact, the mother of the English mother tongue), is nuts about soccer because it isn't part of N. America or Australasia. It's part of Europe, the epic centre of soccer fever (although the Spanish Fever (in soccer) is greater).

Panorama, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
Dottie, I've a feeling we're not in CANZUS anymore...
(click photo to enlarge. You must !)

The 2nd and final brief photo stop we made was the Monument to Calvo Sotelo, which locates on a traffic island in Paseo de la Castellana (The Castillian's Mall), aka La Castellana where we were dropped off to admire the view. La Castellana is noted for being the longest and widest avenues of Madrid.

La Castellana as viewed from the Monument to Calvo Sotelo, Madrid, Spain
La Castellana as viewed towards south from the Monument to Calvo Sotelo

This place is 6.2km from the centre of Madrid as the crow flies (since we didn't get there riding on the back of crows, the actual distance covered by our tour coach is considerably longer).

The 2 modern Leaning Towers of Madrid provides a nice backdrop for framing of the Monument. These 2 provide a nice juxtaposition between slanting inward (convergent) vs slanting outward (divergent) structures, glass and steel vs masonry, airy and light vs solid and heavy, dark vs light shades, the modern vs past, finance vs politics (although Sotelo was a minister of finance). It's like saying, "look at the progress of Spanish modern history, from the fascist minister of finance of the past to the capitalist free market enterprise of today and tomorrow". The leaning towers might be interpreted as vanishing lines that symbolize a vista into the future.

In the opposite direction, you get the vanishing horizon of La Castellana, over this direction, you get a vanishing point skywards. Almost like a cathedral ceiling effect, drawing your eyes to the heaven.

Monument to Calvo Sotelo, Madrid, Spain

Whatever your interpretation, together they give you a forceful visual impact. It's a nice pleasant surprise.

Unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which suffers from weak foundation issue; this tower duo was designed this way because the architect drew his plan with a crooked ruler (i'm thinking Francisco Franco).

Monument to Calvo Sotelo, Madrid, Spain

The hotel we stayed for the night is at the outskirt of Madrid. A business hotel, meaning it's decent but without bells and whistles (be serious. they're here for business, not for fun). I don't mind it at all except no views or sights of interests for you to wonder around by yourself.

Hotel, Madrid, Spain

I had to take care not to get off at the right side of the bed in the morning daze so as not to walk straight into the pillar. In this case, the right of the bed is the wrong side of the bed. So beware of being whacked by the Madrid Morning Post if you stay in this room.

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