Friday, September 12, 2008

Why Would I Want to Buy a Car When I Can Rent a Seat on a Tour Bus?

We had more adventures today, and we've even prepaid on an adventure tomorrow. That's about as much forward thinking as I've done for this trip. Really!

For maybe the second time in my life, I slept through the alarm this morning. That really is alarming. Grace told me that the alarm was really loud, too. I guess a 37-hour day will do that for a fella. Grace and I are learning the art of travel. Last night, I washed out our shirts mainly because we´d been in them for 30+ hours and you could tell that at a distance. I hung them in the shower, and by lunchtime today, they were dry and ready to go. Grace brought along (what I thought was a dubious product) a bottle of stuff that you spray on wrinkled clothes, and when it dries, the clothes are wrinkle free. It really works! Wow, do I love new technology. Who needs a travel iron?

I shaved today, amid decals and signs in the bathroom decrying Madrid's water shortage. The signs worked. It sparked some efforts on my part to conserve water. I'm wearing my new travel shirt today, and it is very comfortable. It's designed with a yoke across the back that is a vent so that heat is supposed to escape blah, blah, blah. It also has some kind of fiber that wicks moisture away so that you don't get pitted out too much. It seems to work. Best of all, it's wash and wear, and cleans nicely in the sink.

We finally got down to breakfast. High carb, with augmented pork protein, con queso! How did the hotel staff know that this was part of the John Burlison diet? I did eat somewhat sparingly, but certainly had enough to fuel me most of the day. Lots of little old ladies and their gentlemen friends (or husbands) are staying in the hotel, acting a lot like tourists, except they speak Spanish. None of them had hair that had known natural color since the death of Franco. Most were a little stout, but carried it in a commanding and convincing way, accenting their curves with exotic leopard prints and loud/hot colors worn defiantly across heaving bosoms. Give these women fabric, and expect a fashion statement! The men were no match. Also in the dining room were some college age kids in at least two configurations, Russian and American. They had stayed up very late the night before, beneath our room on their balconies, drunkenly singing old American pop tunes. I guess I'm getting used to it. Madrid is a very noisy city all the time, and these kids were no match for my earplugs. They all had healthy appetites.

After breakfast, we headed out for a bus tour of Old Madrid via Madid Vision. These are double-decker buses that travel two different routes through the city. One of the routes is "Modern Madrid," the other is "Historical Madrid." Really, there isn't much difference between the two. We took the Modern Madrid tour first. We got lost (twice) trying to find the boarding stop. We noticed some other tourists having the same problem. This is a big city. Finding those bus stops can be onerous. The tour was along a couple of avenues that Brian, Ron, and I had walked extensively two years ago, so it was exciting to see those neighbhorhoods again, and to hear some of the history of those neighborhoods. The tour lasted about 70 minutes. We got off the bus near the hotel, returned to the room to freshen up, then headed to Starbucks, because I was incredibly undercaffeinated.

We split a sandwich at Starbucks, then sat and talked and drank our iced coffee and mocha lite. We dished all of you, chuckling all the while. We concluded that we have a wonderful family, but it sure is nice to get away from you once in a while. We are truly enjoying this time together, and it's fun and curiously satisfying to sit and sip and talk. We finished our lunch and headed off to a vast city park, El Parque del Retiro. We walked through the park for a couple of hours. It's full of paths, grand statuary, fountains, and palaces. At the Velazquez Palacio, a young couple were in wedding atire, having an extensive photo shoot with their photographer. I have a couple of pictures of them and the photographer. They were enjoying themselves. After the park, we jumped back on the tour bus for the Historical Madrid tour. It took us over near the Royal Palace and in to some neighborhoods that I hadn´t been to. I slept through some of this narrative, because I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I've since recovered. Don't worry, I have pictures of the tours, including the Ham Museum. I hope that I get to eat there.

After getting off the bus, we went to a neighborhood bakery for a snack and some coffee. Grace is now in the hotel room collecting her thoughts. When I get back from writing this, we'll go to dinner, then maybe a walk afterwards. We've purchased our tickets for our tour tomorrow.We're going to Segovia and Avila. It lasts most of the day. I'll let you know how that turns out. Love you all.