Monday, 9 April 2007

My Spanish Indecision - Easter in Madrid

Madrid for Easter

A long weekend and my thoughts were in overdrive about where I had never been before. I had the choice between Copenhagen and Madrid, I ended up with Madrid because it had hotels belonging to the Accor chain which Copenhagen did not, I had decided on a 4-star Sofitel smack bang in the centre.

This means, I have still not visited a Scandinavian country ever, sad, but I have till now resisted every attempt to get me off to Norway for official business, I have cried I am from tropics, do not send me to the North Pole, that grovelling supplication has kept me out of those lands all winter.

Then to learn that Madrid would be colder and wetter than Amsterdam over Easter, it would make one think the weather travelled with me.

My flight over was quite lovely and as we approached Madrid the cloud cover was not so bad that I even took pictures from the flight being able frame in the shadow of plane I was in.

Per hotel per issue

I seem to have my share of problems with hotels no matter how will appointed, this time with was first the LAN connection which got fixed after the receptionist lost me an important write-up, I should have kept him miles away from my laptop.

The next day, suddenly, the television would not recognise that there were 2 guests in my room and so would not provide a menu of other service options, just television channels and no LAN link.

When I called reception about the problem, the man was about to start with telling me the service is not a primary hotel facility, I cut him off with a terse - Don't give me that kind of line, it is unprofessional and annoying to guests. My requirement is a room with a full service of Internet access and television services, please arrange this as you will see in my reservation request.

The television did not get fixed till the next morning, but I ended up with a free 24hr wireless LAN connection access, which was helpful but then some service-oriented businesses try to cop-out with a compensation offer rather than providing the service or ensuring the service is available.

Basically, I hate compensation, it cheapens the whole idea of expecting and receiving the service you have requested.

Doing Madrid

We have done a few things, good Spanish food but we have never been about to get a decent restaurant before 22:00 even when we got the reception who are slowly redeeming themselves to book a table in the restaurant that serves the best paella in Madrid. La Paella de la Reina 39 - reservations recommended.

The Royal Palace in Madrid has had my custom, a whole day spent looking through the opulence of Spanish royalty or possibly the rape of the people for the aggrandisement of the privileged few - sometimes visiting such places does tempt one to become republican.

After 4 hours of museum saunter, neck ache from looking up at frescos of megalomania and idolatry, masters by the hands of Goya, Valasquez and Caravaggio to name a few, my back ached like I had been given the Spanish Inquisition version of a back massage, thankfully, my cane did help in succouring the pain.

It definitely became clear why the Spaniards had the temerity to challenge England to many wars, many of which they lost, the Royal Armoury was quite a feast of weapons wrought to damage other fellow human-beings and how royal kids were groomed for a life of the savagery of war.

No flash photography was allowed within the palace walls which meant some rooms were too dark for photography to produce the best images, makes one wish for a camera that develop the real colour of the objects even in the dark, something like infra-red but more colour than green.

Another procession

As we returned to the open courtyard outside the palace, one long procession of religious relics, a guard of horse-riders, people in black and red hoods that could instil the terror of the inquisition, ladies in Spanish comb headdress looking almost too regal but definitely sophisticated - indeed, a Spain steeped in Roman Catholic rituals preserved in the formaldehyde of time - a sight to behold.

There is so much to do in Madrid, and we have hardly done anything, we sighted a cable car service (Teleférico) from the palace and went looking for the 2.5 kilometre ride the next day which was quite good - in all I have taken about 500 pictures, it is possible to suffer repetitive strain injury just clicking away with amateur paparazzi abandon?

Visit my Photo Album to see Madrid and Madrid Tour, I still need to give descriptions to most of the material and there are still about 400 pictures to upload.

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